Joe Henderson: Dick Greco Jr. – Not a typical political candidate

People running for political office usually bellow they will shake things up, find solutions, and FIX THIS MESS!

Dick Greco Jr. isn’t doing that.

I found that out when I tossed him a hunk of red meat. I asked what Tampa would look like four years from now if he is elected Mayor. He did not roar. He was circumspect.

“That’s a good question,” he said. “I would definitely want to continue what we’re doing now.”

That might be a good strategy. These are good times in Tampa town. But it’s also not a typical strategy.

Don’t get the idea Greco doesn’t have priorities and a plan if elected, though. He has three main points.

He would continue Tampa’s Sisyphus-like quest to solve traffic congestion. Greco would keep spending on the city’s infrastructure.

“Vote for me! I’ll improve the city’s drainage system!” Not sexy, but necessary.

He also would seek “connective” ideas, things that benefit large groups of people.

Take his connective approach to commuters, for instance.

“We’re all used to the same traffic,” Greco said. “Used to, you could count on traffic being heavy from 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. for rush hours. Now there is an inordinate amount of traffic at any time of the day or night.

“We can’t just keep building bigger roads and putting more cars on the road. It may require a cultural shift toward mass transportation, or pretty soon the whole city will look like a parking lot.”

That sounds what current Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has stressed while in office, although Greco’s oratory is more mellow. And if voters don’t choose him in the general election on March 5, so be it. He is confident the city will be in good hands, whether his or someone else’s.

Candidates wanting your vote don’t often take that approach.

“It’s a good field of candidates,” he said. “At our debate (last week), everyone was really nice to me. Ed Turanchik was especially nice. These are good people.”

I agree. Strong field.

So, what about the Tampa Bay Rays? Where does Greco stand on a stadium in Hillsborough?

The team, as you know, recently abandoned plans for an $892 million stadium in Ybor City. Except, well, it hasn’t really been abandoned and could come up again.

“For the Rays, I feel like whatever is good for the region, including St. Petersburg, is good for Tampa,” he said.

“As far as Ybor goes, I just can’t tell you today what will happen unless there is a miracle where the public (financing) part is concerned. I wouldn’t rule anything out. The Rays definitely would be an asset for Tampa and Ybor City.”

By now, you may be getting the idea Greco – Dickie, as he likes to be called – isn’t a typical candidate. For instance, he just got into the race last week. Turanchik, by contrast, has been running for a year.

Out of eight candidates, only Greco and qualified write-in Reginald Howard have not campaigned for months. But Greco does start with some recognition. His father, Dick Greco, Sr., served as Tampa’s Mayor over parts of four different terms.

By the way, the elder Greco, who is 85, was only recently released from Florida Hospital. He had been there since before Christmas with a stomach ailment. His son said all is well now.

Back on point, Dickie was a long-time Hillsborough Circuit Judge before retiring in 2017. He has long considered running to Mayor, but, he had other priorities.

“I didn’t want to give up my travel and spontaneity,” he said. “Friends and family were encouraging me to run. I was around my Dad at city council meetings and his mayor’s office when I was growing up, and I have a good feel for what goes on.

“And really, it just seems like people are just starting to focus on this race. I’ll try to do everything I can to get out to meet and greet people and get my message out.”

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


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