In the past three weeks, 25 people have applied for the post of councilor for District 3, which was made vacant after former councilman John Dingfelder was forced to resign amid a lawsuit filed by a local promoter.
Applications for the seat are now closed and the city council is expected to poll candidates next Tuesday. The Council will have to make its selection the same day. Of the 25 candidates initially applied for, only 23 need to be interviewed. Two candidates were removed from the exam for not living within the city limits of Tampa.
The remaining candidates come from diverse backgrounds and have served a range of organizations in Tampa. All of the information below is taken from the candidacies of candidates for City Council. Their full applications can be found on the City of Tampa’s website.
Here is a brief overview of each nominee:
Dr. Sonja Patric Brookins
A professor at Keizer University and a member of several Tampa Bay civic groups, including the Ybor City Rotary International and the Democratic Environmental Caucus, Brookins is seeking the council seat to “make changes to make Tampa Bay the best city in the world for all its inhabitants.”
Burton has been an activist in Tampa for about 40 years, pushing for fair housing and justice for the black community. Currently, she works as an organizer for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. She is a member of the NAACP and other social justice organizations, and regularly appears to speak to the council about local issues. Burton seeks the council seat out of “love for people who are less fortunate.”
Chittenden works for business consulting and communications groups and has served on the city’s budget advisory committee. Its priorities include: public transit, public safety, jobs and a diversification of Tampa’s economic base. He says he has a “deep understanding of Tampa’s economic and cultural landscape” from his experience on the board.
Dr. Carolyn Hepburn-Collins
Hepburn-Collins served as president of Hillsborough NAACP, was a member of the Tampa Organization for Black Affairs, and currently serves on the board of the Jackson House Foundation. The Hepburn-Collins retiree seeks council headquarters to “provide exceptional services that enhance quality of life and promote a more sustainable and livable city”.
Thomas W. Connelly
A member of neighborhood associations and church groups, Connelly, a retired Air Force veteran, wants to help the citizens of Tampa “realize our full potential.” Connelly believes he can serve as a unifying force between the council and Mayor Jane Castor’s administration, to “work in unison for the good of all the people of Tampa.”
Robert L. “Pete” Edwards
Edwards has served on the board of Housing by St. Laurence Inc., as well as several school groups in Hillsborough County. He is retired and hosts the radio show “Let’s Talk About It” on WTMP 1150-AM. Edwards says this is the third time he has applied for an interim position on the board and that he is “highly qualified” and would “not be mired in a long learning curve”.
An engineer and business owner, Fair says he will “bring balance to the board by helping to bring issues to light better.” Fair says 70% of solving the problem is defining the problem, and he’ll take that to the Tampa City Council.
For the past 31 years Feaster has served as President of The Stewards Foundation, a corporate real estate company. He has served on several boards, including the Merchant’s Association of Florida. He was an assistant professor of real estate at the University of Tampa and says he will “address complex issues in a way that brings collaboration and fairness.”
Meredith A. Freeman
Freeman is a real estate attorney who currently works for Shutts and Bowen LLP. She is chair of the board of directors of the Tampa Bay Crisis Center and sits on the board of directors of the non-profit organization One Tampa Inc. Freeman wants to bring her 17 years of experience in construction real estate law to the advice to “ensure that our growth is smart, ethical, affordable and accessible.” Multiple sources have claimed that Freeman is Mayor Jane Castor’s favorite for the council. More than half of Castor’s PAC campaign was funded by developers.
Connie Elisabeth Gage
Gage is a real estate professional who works for Smith and Associates Real Estate. She has served on several boards, including for Metropolitan Ministries and the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce. She also served for six years on the city’s Land Use Appeal Board. She wants to serve to bring about positive change in Tampa and correct issues that need attention.
Natasha L. Goodley
Goodley has served on the committee of the East Tampa Community Revitalization Partnership, as well as the Hillsborough County Urban League, the NAACP and several other groups. She is a senior consultant for White and Black consulting. She wants to serve on the council to make sure progress in the city is fair and to help Tampa be a “progressive city that works for everyone.”
The owner of several businesses, including lawn care, Goutoufas wants to serve on the board to “move Tampa forward by breaking down barriers and making history.” He is a fourth-generation Tampeño, who has served on numerous boards. “My background, qualifications and life experiences, including overcoming a disability, will bring unique diversity and representation to the table,” he wrote in his application.
Allison A. Hewitt
Hewitt is President and CEO of Alison A. Hewitt and Associates. She has served on several boards, including for Hillsborough Regional Transit and Keep Florida Beautiful. A Tampa resident of 45 years, she says she understands the city council’s job isn’t easy. “We are on the cusp of significant change, and the decision we make today will have a significant impact on the livability of Tampa for generations to come,” Hewitt wrote in his nomination.
Parker Alexander Homans
Freelance interior designer Parker Alexander Homans has served on the Tampa Housing Authority Board of Commissioners and the City of Tampa Human Rights Council, along with several other groups. Homans has lived in Tampa since 2013 and is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Homans says she can “bring new and important perspectives to the Tampa City Council.”
Amanda Lynn Hurtak
Hurtak is a technical writer and consultant who has held various positions in Tampa city government. She has served on the Variance Review Board, as well as the Tampa Charter Review Commission. She is a member of the ACLU and is the current vice president of the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association. Hurtak was born in Tampa and says “serving on the city council is the logical next step in continuing my efforts to make our city the prosperous and inclusive community that I believe it can be.”
Jenkins is Director of Donor Relations at Evergreen Life Services of Florida. She has served in several corporate and community organizations, including the Disability Caucus of Hillsborough County and Plant High School PTSA. “My experiences and social skills can help bring diverse groups together, solve problems and move the city forward…I will work to ensure that every citizen and business is heard,” Jenkins wrote.
An independent real estate professional, McCaskill is President of the Center for Economic Development, where she is currently President. She was born and raised in Tampa, and says that through her various advocacy initiatives, she has been contacted by various community members and organizations asking her to represent them as a board member. “After thinking about the city’s conditions for workers, I realized how great the need for help was,” she wrote.
Murphy is a partner at Lorenzo and Lorenzo PA, a firm specializing in motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice and wrongful death law. He has a background in real estate and the military and believes he can translate those experiences into ideas and solutions for Tampa. “I want to serve on council to help implement and facilitate effective ordinances and regulations to keep our city running smoothly,” he wrote.
In his work as a pastor at the 34th Street Church of God, Scott says he learned leadership skills that he can bring to the board. He has been affiliated with Feeding Tampa Bay and the NAACP, as well as other local charitable groups. “I am familiar with the workings and function of the Tampa City Council. I want to give back to the community,” he wrote.
Shamburger is an insurance agent who runs Shamburger Insurance Group. She has served on several community boards including the Hillsborough County Children’s Council and previously served on the Hillsborough County School Board. She comes to the board to “ensure that all decisions continue to be informed by diverse opinions and input.” She was born and raised in Tampa and is familiar with local government, she says.
Shevade is a broker for NextHome Frontier, a real estate company. She is a member of the Tampa Tiger Bay Club and the New Tampa Democratic Club. Shevade is running because she wants to see more diversity and female representation on the board. She also sees how housing has become a stressful situation for first-time home buyers and renters. “I want to serve every neighborhood equally and effectively.
A. Kendall Trosky
Trosky is an Associate Realtor, who served on the University of Tampa Board of Trustees and volunteered for the Tampa General Foundation and Spring of Tampa Bay. Trosky says their goal as a member of the city council will be to make Tampa a safe, diverse, environmentally sensitive, economically affordable, reasonably healthy development community and a city of opportunity.
Carroll “Carrie” West
West is the former chairman of the Gaybor District Coalition and a former board member of the Ybor Youth Clinic. Wet is a retired Air Force veteran, who wants to help local service personnel. He lists his workplace as Tampa Pride, Inc and says he joins the council to “meet the obligations and needs of the citizens of Tampa.”