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Another day, another Tampa forum: David Straz, Jane Castor split on red-light cameras

“Get rid of these damn red light cameras.”

Monday kicked off with yet another Tampa Mayoral forum, this time with the West Tampa Chamber.

All seven candidates squared off at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC. In a forum that was supposed to center on West Tampa-specific fixes, the biggest takeaway wound up being David Straz‘s new campaign promise — no more red light cameras.

The day also marked a trove of new campaign finance reports showing Jane Castor continuing a campaign surge.

Here’s what the Tampa campaign trail looked like coming out of the weekend.

Straz wants to pump the breaks on red light cameras” via Florida Politics — “Get rid of these damn red light cameras.” That was one of the first things Straz said at the West Tampa Chamber forum Monday and the first time he had mentioned publicly his disdain for the automatic red light violation machines.

Straz said “the people don’t want them” and called them nothing more than a “moneymaking machine.”

But his new political beef raised some eyebrows.

“That’s the first mention I’ve heard of that so clearly he’s done some sort of polls. I don’t make decisions based on polls,” Castor, who has been a longtime supporter of red light cameras, said.

Straz didn’t acknowledge any polls, but he didn’t deny them either.

The same day, Straz announced a new television ad on Spectrum cable channels in Tampa that also talks about getting rid of the cameras.

Other reactions

“Just don’t run red lights” — Topher Morrison

It creates “a budgetary crisis” for low-income residents and families — Ed Turanchik

“I learned from the Florida Department of Transportation that red light running is one of the most significant risks of accidents with fatalities.” — Harry Cohen

Straz will find the fluff!

Straz has made no secret of his plan to launch an immediate and full-scale audit of the city’s budget if he’s elected. But now he’s making it clear what he’s after, “fluff.”

Straz was responding to questions about maintaining city services amid a potential flurry of budgetary shortfalls. Instead of sticking with the usual political jargon about “making government lean” or “trimming the fat,” Straz latched onto the new, fluffier word.

He also reiterated that he would make city government more transparent by putting the results of his fluff search on the internet.

His comments drew sharp rebuke from Morrison who said he was calling Straz’s bluff (no apparent intention to rhyme) because Straz refused to give any examples of the budget overruns he claims to have identified.

Castor was also quick to point out holes in Straz’s audit plan noting that the city already conducts audits “12 ways to Sunday” and puts them on the internet.

Nevertheless, Straz’s campaign capitalized on the meme-worthy fiscal responsibility by taking to Twitter with a giant tub of none other than Marshmallow Fluff.

Missed the forum? Watch it here, thanks to Castor 

Raking in the cash

There’s no denying that Straz has the buying power in the race to succeed Bob Buckhorn, but Castor’s got the fundraising skills to pay the bills.

Castor had been neck and neck with Ed Turanchik in campaign cash (not including money in the candidates’ political committees) but she surged ahead in late January, according to the latest campaign reports. Castor is now up to $279,000 in total campaign fundraising while Turanchik is left at $232,000.

Straz has brought in about $1.9 million for his campaign, most of it in personal candidate loans. That includes $300,000 in late January.

Bill Carlson is also looking for a money boost in his District 4 City Council race against Lee Lowry and Sal Guagliardo. Carlson raised $22,000 in the less than two-week reporting period compared to Lowry’s $3,800 and Guagliardo’s $3,000. That brings Carlson’s totals to $107,000. Guagliardo has raised $34,000 and Lowry $16,000.

Check out all the latest fundraising totals on the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections website here.

Get Social

Castor gets a new endorsement

Straz gets his very own parody account!

In an alternate universe where Castor isn’t polling at 45 percent, she’d vote for Cohen.

Burger anyone?

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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