Who will be the next mayor of Tampa?
Odds are we won't know at the end of the day on March 1 when five experienced candidates face off on a crowded ballot.
Voters will get to choose then between Bob Buckhorn, Rose Ferlita, Dick Greco, Thomas Scott and Ed Turanchik -- all somewhat familiar to many for having held elective office at some time in Hillsborough County, all decent people who have earned respect for their special strengths, all promising to lead Tampa and the region into a brighter future.
Some talk more about a vision for the future and how to get us there than others. Some emphasize the past more than others. Each offers different leadership skills and methods of collaboration. Each represents different constituencies that may matter more or less to you. See for yourself.
Tune in tonight (Feb. 8) at 7 p.m. to Bay News 9 to see the latest debate broadcast from Blake High School in Tampa. WTSP Channel 10 News and CTTV (city of Tampa) along with the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County
have also recorded panel discussions among the candidates.
Given the number of candidates and the nature of voter turnout -- lower than in general elections -- we'll likely see two candidates emerge for a runoff on March 22.
Political experts and other observers are already predicting a runoff between Greco and one of the others, though there is little consensus about the second.
That's where you can come in to make a big difference in the city's future as the central hub and largest concentration of urban neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay region.
Register To Vote by Feb. 21
If you're not yet registered to vote -- maybe you just moved to Tampa, maybe you just turned 18, maybe you've never before recognized the value of having your say in an election -- you can do so now.
While it's too late to register to vote in the March 1 city election, you have until Monday, Feb. 21, to register for the important March 22 runoff.
All you have to do is provide proof of citizenship, residency and age. Your Florida driver's license will do. As will other forms of ID listed by the office of the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections
You can even print and fill out a registration form online and snail mail it in or bring it by the nearest public library, a Florida Driver License office or any state agency providing public assistance and/or services for the disabled, or a military recruiting office.
It's that simple. Just don't wait. The clock is ticking and you have only days to make a difference by registering to vote and then by voting.
Early voting for the March 1 election starts Feb. 19 at the County Center, 601 E. Kennedy; at the Gilder Elections Services Center, 2514 N. Falkenburg Road; and at several public libraries. Early voting for the March 22 runoff starts two weeks before it.
Help shape "What's Next?'' for the City of Tampa. Vote.
Diane Egner, publisher and managing editor at 83 Degrees, started voting as an informed 18-year-old and believes everyone else should too. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.