I filled out my mail-in ballot today and was reminded of something strange – I read before that the mayor received no major challenger in Tampa’s city election on March 7th. But here it was in black and white. I have… just one option?
Instead of voting for Jane Castor a second time, I wrote my own name in. This is my small act of defiance.
We count on the mayor and city council to admirably perform in the kabuki theater for us each day. But there’s nothing glamorous about this past year or so’s most recent act. Both institutions and their members suffered scandals and pushed for escalating checks to the other.
And the reality is, both institutions probably deserve to have those checks, or at least similar ones, placed on them. The city council has a lot of great reasons to be skeptical of Mayor Castor. Castor, in turn, has a lot of great reasons to be skeptical of the city council.
I’ll recap the ongoing conflict in the next few days, but I want to hit home with what really pissed me off. Recently, the mayor shared plans for an expansion of the Riverwalk. In the midst of a very obvious failure in the last year or so to meet the public’s pretty lax expectations of transparency and leadership by example. At a time when our city receives more national attention than ever.
We’re gonna do the Riverwalk again? Every single mayor in my lifetime, and a couple of them before that, have hung their hat on the goddamn Riverwalk. “If we expand the Riverwalk, we can ignore the eroding sense of local flavor in the city! The NFL broadcast will have two angles to shoot the city from instead of just one. Can you imagine that?”
A Riverwalk that doesn’t even have any SHADE! It’s practically unusable for seven or eight months out of the year.
What about unveiling the plans for dealing with Tampa’s sharply growing and underserved unhoused population?
What about going along with a few-strings-attached federal grant application which would include studying the effect of turning I-275 into a boulevard, instead of continuing on with a living monument to the destruction of Tampa’s multiethnic center of old? (You don’t even have to go through with it! It’s free money and the people of Tampa paid you to say no, that would be unthinkable? If I say no at my jobs, I get fired!)
What about not appointing your friends to positions of power and it turning out horribly?
What about putting up a few more trees?
What about protecting local businesses from the increasing demands of predatory, highly-profit-driven real estate investors?
No – we’ll build the Riverwalk right to their doorstep.
I think Jane Castor is a good person. When it’s all said and done, she may even be a good mayor. But right now, she is not. And almost every city council seat is up for grabs, partly due to their poor job performance. She deserves a competitor too.
And, given her outsized chance at victory since she’s the only name on the ballot, that competition is gonna be me.
Election Day is March 7th, 2023. If you vote by mail, vote early, or vote on election day, I’m asking you, friend to a friend, to vote for Matthew Sandler. Ask your friends and family to vote for me. It’s probably not gonna make a difference either way. But competition is part of the American way of life, and right now, our mayor needs some.