Tampa GLBTs uncertain of vote for mayor
Topix Editor note: Rose Ferlita and Bob Buckhorn are both republicans with proven track records for pro-GLBT causes and equality. Mayor Pam Iorio has publicly stated support for Buckhorn as Tampa's next mayor
TAMPA, FL - Carl Slifer faces a conundrum.
The Tampa resident wants to vote in the upcoming mayoral election March 22 - but he's still undecided as to who will receive his vote. Rose Ferlita, he says, has a strong track record of fiscal responsibility and leadership, but Bob Buckhorn appears to have a more clear-cut vision for the future of the city.
“Honestly, I don’t usually have to look at the finer points in an election because I can vote for the person who will most respect the gay community,” Slifer said. “But this is a tough call.”
In interviews with Watermark, both Ferlita and Buckhorn said they support LGBT causes and that they admire outgoing Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio’s work in bringing equality to the city. Iorio incorporated domestic partnership benefits, for example, when she first took office in 2003.
“I was [former mayor] Sandy Freeman’s assistant for eight years when we passed the original Human Rights Ordinance,” Buckhorn recalls. “I have also stayed in the fight and plan to continue doing everything I can to move equality forward—including all of Pam’s initiatives.”
For Ferlita, watching Iorio enact the Domestic Partnership policy in 2003 wasn’t enough. She wanted to voice her support for it as a city council member.
“I could have kept quiet, but at the next meeting I said, ‘This is not something legislative. Pam put in an executive order and I wanted to say I endorse what she did.’ There is no place in my record for anything I believe in that shows just because someone is gay he or she should not get the same rights. I just don’t believe that.”
For those who are afraid that the candidates will use LGBTs as a wedge issues in the final days of the campaign, both say that’s not in their nature.
“There is no room for wedges in fairness,” says Ferlita during an interview in her campaign headquarters. “I’m so strong about that … and I believe in this. I practice what I preach and with me as mayor, there will be zero inequality.”
Buckhorn, who was a city councilman from 1995 to 2003, says he would keep Iorio’s policies intact if he were elected mayor.
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