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Tampa City Council taps Frank Reddick to become new chairman

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

It was over in less than a minute.

The much anticipated vote for City Council chair was decided quickly this afternoon, as the newly sworn-in City Council named Frank Reddick to become their new chairman for the next year.

As expected, it was a close vote, with Reddick defeating current chair Charlie Miranda on a 4-3 vote. Voting for Reddick (besides himself) were Yolie Capin, newly elected Councilman Guido Maniscalco and Mike Suarez, the man considered to be the swing vote on the seven-person board.

Miranda received votes from Harry Cohen and Lisa Montelione to go along with his own vote.

“I would hope that I can count on my friend and  colleague, Mr. Miranda, to help guide me through this process as we move forward in the next year,” an obviously humbled Reddick said after learning he was the new Council chair.

After the vote, Reddick said he was surprised at the outcome, believing that he wasn’t certain anyone was going to nominate him. “I feel good about it. I always believed that we should rotate the chair, and that’s why I was pushing for that.”

The Council is scheduled to host a workshop later this spring on possibly rotating the council chairmanship on an annual basis, and Reddick said today he still supports that idea. “I’m not fascinated by serving in one capacity for the next four years. If someone else wants to run for chair? Fine with me. I’m not selfish in that respect.”

Based on a vote from last month, however, it appeared that the Council might maintain its current form of leadership. Reddick, Capin and now former Council member Mary Mulhern argued last month that it was time to create a vehicle to open up the process and add some diversity for leadership.

There is already considerable interest in who will lead the board in 2017 and/or 2018, as Mayor Bob Buckhorn contemplates a likely run for the Democratic nomination for governor. That would make the chair at that time in a great position as the 2019 mayor’s race rolls around, as at least two members of the current board are strongly considered as likely mayoral candidates.

But Reddick made it clear last month that he won’t be one of them, perhaps allowing others on the board to freely elect him in 2015 to open up the process.

Charlie Miranda has served as Council chair for the past four years, and wanted to keep the job, which provides no increase in salary (the board members make slightly more than $42,000) but is considered a leadership position. Going into today’s vote, the election was considered to be between him and Reddick, with recently re-elected Councilman Mike Suarez being the swing vote.

Suarez said Reddick’s comments about how the Council should rotate chairs was “stirring” and persuaded him to support a change in leadership on Council. “This is the first time I think we’ve had a race for chair since the first one we served on back in 2011,” he recounted. “This may be a tradition to keep working together, (to) find people that want to keep leading and be part of the chairmanship.”

When asked if he really was more concerned about being chair in 2017 or 2018, when being in that position could present a leg-up in the race for Tampa mayor in 2019, Suarez demurred in Buckhornesque fashion.

“I look forward to everyday on Council. I enjoy it, it’s fun. Regardless of what happens. I know there’s been a lot of things in the press about ‘we want to make sure about who the next chair could be the next mayor’ — we have to make sure that we serve the people first. That’s our first goal always, every single day. If we think about other things, I think we lose of the things that we were elected to do, which is to serve the city of Tampa.”

Outgoing board member Mary Mulhern tried to light a fire behind her now former colleagues at one of her last Council meetings recently, saying she couldn’t understand why they were OK with the status quo continuing on for another  year.

“I just was glad to see that they voted for a new person to reenergize and change the dynamic and not have a four-person voting bloc, so that’s very encouraging,” she said today.

Councilman Harry Cohen was voted Council Pro-Tem, meaning he’ll fill in for Reddick when necessary. Yolie Capin was voted chair of the Community Redevelopment Agency, and Lisa Montelione was voted co-chair.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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