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Politician paved way for Latins to come

Nick Nuccio was the son of Sicilian cigarmakers who first took office in 1929 and served nearly all his life.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 13, 2002

He was dubbed "the sidewalk man" for supporting citywide sidewalk construction. But Nick Nuccio was the former mayor, county commissioner and City Council member who paved pathways for Latins right to the heart of Tampa's power structure.

He wasn't going to have a sidewalk named after him.

The Nick Nuccio Parkway links downtown to Ybor City, a traditional power base for the son of Sicilian cigarmakers.

Mayor Dick Greco once reckoned Nuccio as among the last of a breed of politicians that Tampa outgrew. Less than media savvy, but a real charmer face-to-face who thrived on personal contact. A tireless, scrappy campaigner who built support one vote at a time.

Nuccio won a seat on Tampa City Council in 1929. By the 1930s, he'd made it to the County Commission. His growing political appetite brought him up against popular mayor Curtis Hixon in 1955. Nuccio was thrashed. But Hixon died seven months into his fourth term, and Nuccio beat interim Mayor J.L. Young Jr. by 125 votes.

By this time he'd earned his nickname: "the sidewalk man."

Nuccio lost in 1959 to Julian Lane but made a comeback in 1963. In 1967, he was defeated by one who benefitted from his trailblazing, Dick Greco Jr.

Nuccio retired after losing to Greco again four years later.

He died in 1989 at 87.

-- Information from Times files was used in this report.

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