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Times, WTSP to sponsor mayoral debates

The debates will feature candidates for Tampa mayor. Feel free to suggest a question.

By DAVID KARP, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 6, 2003


TAMPA -- The St. Petersburg Times and WTSP-Ch. 10 are jointly sponsoring two debates among the candidates vying to replace Tampa Mayor Dick Greco.

WTSP reporter Mike Deeson will moderate the first debate, which will be held Saturday, Feb. 22, at Middleton High School. It will air from 7 to 8 p.m.

If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the March 4 election, the Times and WTSP will host another debate between the two runoff opponents on Tuesday, March 11, at the same location.

It would air in prime time, from 8 to 9 p.m., on WTSP.

"It may sound a little old-fashioned, but we still think of ourselves as an institution of democracy," said Paul Tash, editor and president of the Times. "This seems a good step toward letting voters know about the candidates, so they can make an informed choice."

The Times will collect questions from the public online, by e-mail and through the mail. Questions will be sorted by topic, and those of general interest will be considered for the debates.

Audience seating is limited to 600, and admittance will be by ticket only.

City Council Chairman Charlie Miranda, who is running for mayor, said he isn't surprised that the Times is sponsoring major debates.

"You have a (newspaper) war going on," Miranda said. "I think in order to be a player, you have to play."

Miranda, City Council member Bob Buckhorn, former Hillsborough County elections supervisor Pam Iorio, former Clinton White House aide Frank Sanchez and fitness author Don Ardell will participate in the first debate.

Two write-in candidates were not invited to attend.

Have a question?

To submit a question or enter a random public drawing for two tickets, send your name, address and daytime phone number online to www.tampabay.com/tampadebate or by mail to Tampa Debate, St. Petersburg Times, 1000 N Ashley Drive, Suite 700, Tampa, FL 33602-3700.

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