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Tampa Bay

David Straz calls nearly 30K South Tampa voters for live town hall Thursday

“Those who accept the invitation [can] ask questions and hear my thoughts on the issues.”

David Straz is calling thousands of South Tampa voters to give their input through a virtual town hall meeting this week.

The Tampa mayoral candidate is hosting a live telephone event Thursday at 7 p.m.

The campaign is not opening the event for the general public. Instead, they will call more than 29,000 residents in South Tampa neighborhoods, giving them an opportunity to ask questions and make comments.

“I think this will be a great way for me to get direct input from the citizens of Tampa,” Straz said. “Those who accept the invitation will be able to ask questions and everyone on the call will be able to hear my thoughts on the issues.”

While voters cannot call into the event, Straz said he plans to announce future phone conferences for voters in east, west and north Tampa “in the very near future.”

Straz also said these sort of outreach events would be part of his priorities as Mayor.

“As Mayor, I intend to use this technology to get input directly from the citizens of Tampa. I want to hear from the people. This is a great way to engage residents and learn their concerns. Not everyone wants to take time away from their families to go to a forum,” Straz said. “Using this technology, people will be able to interact with me from the comfort of their homes.”

Straz’s event comes after announcing last week that he would only participate in three campaign forums with his opponent, Jane Castor. That includes two televised events on Bay News 9 and WEDU as well as a radio forum on WTMP, an AM station in the Tampa Bay region serving the area’s African-American community.

Straz also attended a Hillsborough County Democratic Black Caucus forum with Castor last week.

Straz said during that announcement he was limiting campaign events because voters had forum fatigue from the more than two dozen events before the March 5 election.

For those events, the field was spread among seven candidates, so responses to questions were often short. With the field down to just two, upcoming forums can offer more substance.

Straz faces Castor in the April 23 runoff. Vote by mail ballots has already gone out to more than 50,000 voters.

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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