Capin drops com­mis­sion bid to lead Straz-for-mayor panel

Tampa Bay Times - - Local - BY WILLIAM MARCH Times Cor­re­spon­dent Con­tact William March at we­

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.

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