Turanchik will not participate in private mayoral forums
In a call for transparency, Tampa mayoral candidate Ed Turanchik has issued a refusal to participate in private forums regarding the mayoral race. Turanchik believes that “any forums conducted should, at a minimum, be open to the press”.
Turanchik’s invitation to various private forums has spurred his refusal as the candidate and County Commissioner calls for a race that is more about the public and less about specific interests. “These forums would be limited to select, private participants,” said Turanchik in a statement released on Friday. “I was also advised that the candidates would be requested to collectively address economic and community development issues that are generally or specifically pertinent to the sponsoring organization.”
On top of releasing a statement outlining his refusal to participate in private forums, Turanchik released a video on facebook explaining his decision.
These private forums would also bar access to the press, allowing them to operate nearly in secrecy. According to Turanchik’s statement, some of his opponents in the race have accepted the same invitations that he is declining.
Government meetings, as opposed to candidate forums, are subject to the Florida Open Meetings Law. The Open Meetings Law is one of the so-called Sunshine Laws promoting government transparency. This means that all meetings of a governmental body are treated as public meetings. There are some exceptions, such as meetings that involve security decisions. These laws do not apply to candidates, allowing for private forums like those to which Turanchik is opposed.
The election for the next mayor of Tampa will take place on March 5, 2019. Candidates have until January 18, 2019 to declare their candidacy, though many have already begun to campaign including Turanchik. The election will not feature an incumbent, as current mayor Bob Buckhorn is term-limited and will not run.
Turanchik is the Hillsborough County Comissioner and therefore has strong ties to Tampa and the area surrounding it. His campaign for mayor centers on improving the city’s public transportation situation, often cited by locals as a sore spot.
Tampa’s next mayor is going to also have to contend with environmental issues facing the city such as flooding and drainage concerns, and with the proposal for the Tampa Bay Rays to build their stadium in Ybor City that will almost certainly involve a fair amount of funding from both Tampa and the surrounding Hillsborough County. To that end, Turanchik was part of the planning of what is now Amalie Arena in Downtown Tampa.
Other mayoral candidates for the 2019 election include Philantropist David Straz, former police chief Jane Castor, businessman Topher Morrison, and city council members Mike Suarez and Harry Cohen. The race is expected to really ramp up over the winter, after statewide elections such as the gubernatorial race and the race for the United States Senate have concluded.
In April, Ed Turanchik appeared on the Chris Ingram Show to discuss his candidacy and his vision for Tampa. The clip can be found here.