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Steep divide in fundraising marks Tampa City Council races

Each of the three races on the April 23 ballot have a clear fundraising leader.

Tampa City Council candidate John Dingfelder is crushing fundraising efforts across all City Council races headed to the April 23 runoff, according to the latest financial reports filed with the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office.

Dingfelder raised $20,000 in the reporting period covering March 9-22. His opponent, Stephen Lytle, raised just $5,300 in the race for District 3, which is currently held by Council Chair Yvonne Yolie Capin who is leaving office due to term limits.

Each of the three races have a clear fundraising leader. In the District 3 race, Dingfelder has raised nearly $100,000 more than his opponent, bringing in a total of $167,000 compared to Lytle’s $68,000.

Joe Citro is leading his race in fundraising against Walter Smith II for District 1. Citro raised $7,000 in the latest reporting period while Smith brought in just $570. Citro’s total fundraising haul to date is $36,000 while Smith has brought in about $9,000. Citro has about $16,000 left in his campaign fund while his opponent has, according to reports, spent all of his campaign cash.

The two candidates are vying to replace Mike Suarez who is leaving office due to term limits and ran unsuccessfully for Mayor.

Orlando Gudes leads his opponent, Jeffrey Rhodes, by more than $40,000 in total fundraising for the District 5 race replacing term-limited council member Frank Reddick. Gudes raised $5,250 during the latest reporting period compared to Rhodes’ $350.

Candidates brought in some notable contributions. Gudes picked up a $200 contribution from the seat’s incumbent.

Ike Smart City, a digital marketing company based in Columbus, Ohio, donated $500 to Gudes and $1,000 to Dingfelder. The company provides digital kiosks with interactive information about a city’s history and its amenities and attractions. The donations signal the company is looking to set up shop in Tampa.

The Tampa Police Benevolent Association also threw money into races, donating $1,000 to Citro and $500 to Lytle and Gudes. Political consultant Beth Leythem gave $500 each to Citro and Dingfelder.

Dingfelder also brought in $1,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local union. He and Citro each also collected $750 from the conservative Bay Area Citizens for Responsible Government political committee. Both candidates are Democrats, though City Council races are non-partisan.

Galaxy Fireworks, which often contributes to local races, cut $500 checks to Citro and Gudes.

All seven Tampa City Council districts were up for election this year. Candidates in Districts 2, 4, 6 and 7 were all elected March 5 with winning candidates securing more than half the total vote. Charlie Miranda, Guido Maniscalco and Luis Viera were re-elected to their seats. Bill Carlson won District 4 to replace term-limited council member Harry Cohen who ran unsuccessfully for Mayor.

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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