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Tommy Castellano calls Jackie Toledo and her campaign “an embarrassment”

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The District 6 Tampa City Council race went into a whole new stratosphere on Thursday when Tommy Castellano issued a blistering statement against one of his opponents in the race, Jackie Toledo.

Using words like “pomposity,” “arrogance,” and “an embarrassment,” Castellano ripped into Toledo and the campaign she’s been running, writing, “Mrs. Toledo is the equivalent of a bull-in-a-china-shop, except that everything that it is broken will be paid by other people showing complete disregard to rules and the will of the people.”

Toledo, a transportation engineer running for office for the first time, has been hit with a barrage of negative news over the past week. The Florida Department of Transportation criticized her for filming an ad on a FDOT construction site without permission, and when challenged by reporters about the ad last week, she didn’t have a very good response.

And then last Friday a friend of Maniscalco’s filed an official complaint with the city of Tampa over the portrait she used as her main campaign photo for months that showed the official seal of the city in the background, also a no-no.

“It’s a pattern,” Joseph Procopio said when asked why he was filing a complaint.“And we want the people of District 6 to see this pattern.”

Castellano says that the negative campaigning began with a “push-poll” directed at offering negative information about himself and Guido Maniscalco. He gets extremely personal in his criticism in the statement, calling Toledo an “immature candidate and the lies associated to her is irresponsible and despicable.”

Toledo has been by far the leading fundraiser in the District 6 campaign. The district encompasses West Tampa, Seminole Heights and part of South Tampa. It’s a seat that’s being vacated by Charlie Miranda, and the only race where none of the candidates have held elected office before (This is Toledo’s first run for office; Both Castellano and Maniscalco have been unsuccessful in prior local races).

Anthony Pedicini, Toledo’s campaign manager, sent this response to Florida Politics via email:

“Jackie Toledo is the only real candidate in this race period. She’s the only one talking about issues. She’s the only one meeting voters every day at their doors. While her opponents point fingers and call names, Jackie Toledo has mounted the only serious campaign in district 6. We won’t sink into the mud where Maniscalco and Castellano find themselves.  There is no room for name calling in a city council race.  This latest gimmick deserves no attention and voters will see it as nothing more than the last ditch effort of a desperate candidate who has struggled since entering this contest.”

Here is the Castellano statement in full:

Recently the Tommy Castellano for City Council District 6 has been thrown into a excessively dirty campaign by the Jackie Toledo team and Mrs. Toledo. We have remained on the above board but the lies from Mrs. Toledo must stop. It is disrespectful to the Tampa citizens and demeaning to the position of city council.

Mrs. Toledo is the equivalent of a bull-in-a-china-shop, except that everything that it is broken will be paid by other people showing complete disregard to rules and the will of the people.

She turned this campaign partisan beginning in her January phone push poll started in which she attacked her opponents of being a members of a Party, and a veteran as if it is a bad thing. Mr. Castellano has been non partisan for years and a proud Vietnam combat veteran, who started a very successful 40 year business in Tampa and mentored many of the largest air conditioning companies in Tampa.

Mrs. Toledo has shown a lack of integrity in 10 mailers over a stretch of a week attacking her opponents after she was called out by the media for a number of egregious responses pointing the finger at others or feigning ignorance. She stated when challenged on the video which was done without permission by the Florida Department of Transportation, that other people do much crazier videos on Youtube, and the union called her to complain, and that the foreman gave her permission, anybody else she wants to throw under the bus and cost their jobs? City Council is a serious job, it is not high school, requiring taking responsibility for your actions. Her actions at the job site involved workers from the contractor Apax as the logos were on the uniforms. She risked the lives of workers and film crew going into a job site without insurance and as she stated “to check on a complaint” by the union that workers from out of Tampa were being used in the project. Her pomposity and arrogance endangered the jobs of the hard working men in the site, her film crew, and herself.

She was caught photoshopping the official picture of the Mayor of Tampa with her image, and she responded that she had nothing to do with it, yet used it for months on her Facebook page.

At the Downtown Partnership forum when asked about a possible referendum on transportation, which has failed before, here and in Pinellas, she stated that she would not wait for a referendum and would take action. Mrs. Toledo is amazingly unaware that as a city council person she does not have that executive capability as it is a legislative body. Her campaign expenditures and her litany of promises have exceeds any reasonable city council race. She has resorted now to character assassination. Her desperate mode makes this campaign wonder, why?

She has stated that she wants to change all the traffic lights in Tampa as a solution for the traffic problem, totally ignorant that the present city council has already scheduled for that and it is programmed. Mrs. Toledo over and over shows total ignorance on how the city works claiming her degree in traffic engineering, which she hasn’t used in years and the fact that she is a mom as her qualifications. When asked about her traffic engineering accomplishments the answer was mum. She has never responded a fiscal question and has supported light rail without understanding that all six studies argue against it and would cost hundreds of millions. As a District 6 representative any present light rail plan supports West Tampa or East Tampa in any significant fashion.

For the citizens of District 6 to have endured the constant barrage of negative postcards, the constant shenanigans of an immature candidate and the lies associated to her is irresponsible and despicable. The city of Tampa does not deserve this. The city of Tampa does not like it, and its citizens will not tolerate it.

The Toledo campaign is an embarrassment to the people who trusted her and donated to her campaign. She has betrayed them with lies and manipulations, and without herself taking any responsibility. She is an embarrassment to all the other 7 District Candidates running in all the other city council races. She is an embarrassment to all those who have worked hard to support her. She is unworthy to hold the office of city council person.

I was born and raised Tampa. I have contributed directly to the economic growth of Tampa by hiring hundreds of employees, paying millions salaries and in taxes. I have helped dozens of entrepreneurs establish their own businesses.

Never have I seen a candidate that lied on commercials, made up photos, failed to break down the expenses of her expenditures in the required financials to be filed every ten days, 10 mailers, TV commercials, etc. Her actions reflect a reckless pattern not belonging at the city council.

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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