District 5: In East Tampa's City Council race, it's all about jobs

February 22, 2011
By Stephanie Wang, Times Staff Writer

TAMPA - Among the four Tampa City Council candidates in District 5, there is a single rallying cry.

Jobs, jobs, jobs.

The familiar cheer echoes around the state and the country, but it rises earnestly from areas like East Tampa. In this part of District 5, redevelopment efforts push against high unemployment rates, foreclosed homes, illegal dumping and empty lots.

Lynette Judge: "In order to have the community rebound, we're going to have to put people back to work."

Herold Lord Jr.: "My priority is to be an advocate for District 5. That means economic development."

Frank Reddick: "District 5 cannot afford to take a back step at all."

Carrie West: "We are the most depressed area. It's easily 20 percent unemployment in District 5."

The candidates are competing to replace Thomas Scott, who is running for mayor. District 5 includes East Tampa, Ybor City, Downtown and the Channel District.

Judge, 46, a school social worker, takes a socioeconomic approach to the district's issues: Establish regulations for employers to pay a living wage, she suggests. Remove the check box for previous arrest history on applications for employers who receive municipal funding. Help nonviolent ex-offenders re-enter the workplace.

"People work, but they don't earn enough to sustain themselves or their family," said Judge, who also ran for the same City Council seat in 2007.

Reddick, 55, president and CEO of the Sickle Cell Association, suggests an easy way to generate jobs: Give preference to local bidders, especially minorities, for city contracts.

"They should have a piece of the economic pie," he said.

Reddick is making his third stab at City Council elections - his fifth try for public office overall after attempts to become county commissioner and state representative. He held a three-month appointment to City Council in 2007.

Reddick's history of involvement with local groups, including the East Tampa Community Revitalization Partnership, guides his faith in existing programs to support neighborhood improvements.

"We have the basic premise in place," he said, listing city attributes such as a stable school system and good climate.

West, 58, owns an Ybor City business, MC Film, and touts his experience attracting dozens of new businesses to the historic neighborhood through his leadership with the GaYbor Coalition.

He strongly backs proposals to create more tax-deferred enterprise zones throughout the city to revitalize targeted areas.

The 40th Street Corridor near Busch Gardens, he says, is a model success story that came from small changes.

East Tampa draws much of the attention for improving economically depressed areas, but West also envisions business expansion opportunities through the Port of Tampa, including opening up exports with Cuba and other countries.

"That's where I can start seeing some new promise," said West, who also ran for City Council in 1998.

Lord, 26, is the lone District 5 candidate who hasn't campaigned for a council seat before. He will graduate this semester from the University of South Florida, and he worked for then-County Commissioner Scott and former Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson.

Lord seeks simple solutions to attract jobs to Tampa, such as tax breaks and easier permitting processes.

"I'm just trying to find areas where we can compromise and even relax some of the hindrances that hurt businesses, some of the hurdles that businesses face," he said.

This story has been updated to correct a mischaracterization of candidate Lynette Judge's idea to help non-violent ex-offenders re-enter the workplace.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at swang@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

[iCopyright] 2011 St. Petersburg Times.

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