Capin drops commission bid to lead Straz-for-mayor panel
TAMPA — City Council member Yolie Capin will drop her bid for a County Commission seat to head David Straz’s exploratory committee for a possible 2019 mayor’s race, she announced Friday.
“I’ve been talking to David for a while and I decided this was a better use of my time and talent,” Capin said in an interview. “My heart is in the city. I’ve lived in the city my entire life except for about three years” when she lived in unincorporated Hillsborough County, she said.
Capin added, “I think we’re going to see a lot of change in this city — at least I hope so.”
She had planned to run in 2018 in a primary against state Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, for the District 1 County Commission seat currently held by Sandy Murman. Murman is expected to leave in the middle of her term next year to run for a countywide County Commission seat.
Local Democrats have been unhappy that Capin and Cruz, viewed as two of their strongest local candidates, were running against each other instead of seeking separate offices and some have said they were trying to resolve the situation.
But Capin said she hadn’t experienced any pressure to leave the race.
“Anybody who knows me knows I wouldn’t be talked out of anything,” she said.
Cruz said she had no part of any attempt to change Capin’s plans — “I know of nothing like that” — and she hasn’t talked to Capin since they filed for the commission seat.
“Yolie’s been a friend and a good Democrat and I look forward to working with her toward a victory on this commission race,” she said.
But Cruz acknowledged the news brightens her prospects.
“It will position me to be a stronger candidate for the general election because I don’t have to split my money between a primary and a general, and it clears the field for fundraising,” she said.
Capin said she has come to know Straz, in part, through their mutual efforts to foster U.S. engagement with Cuba.
She said she doesn’t know what effect the move will have on her own political future.
“People have been telling me I should remain in public service,” she said, “but for now I’m focusing on this.”
Straz announced the creation of his exploratory political action committee Friday, saying it starts with a budget of $250,000 and is now accepting donations.
Other members are committee manager George K. Guida, owner of an accounting firm; Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick; former television anchor Leslie Spencer; business owner Tommy Castellano of West Tampa; educator Dr. Liana Fernandez Fox; Dr. Eddie Garcia, former chairman of the Florida Board of Veterinary Medicine; and financial adviser James W. Warren III.
Straz, 74, is a retired banker and philanthropist who spends his time on civic and charitable work for institutions including the University of Tampa and the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, named for him after a 2009 charitable gift.