Iorio aide will promote east Tampa
By DAVID KARP, Times Staff Writer
TAMPA -- East Tampa was the one area where mayoral candidate Pam Iorio didn't fare so well on Election Day.
But her political weakness there hasn't stopped Iorio from making east Tampa the home for her political fortunes as mayor.
On Monday, the new mayor created an agency to handle economic development in east Tampa and named banker Ed Johnson as its director. Iorio said revitalizing the area will be one of her top priorities.
"We are going to focus on it in a laser beam way," she said.
The mayor also appointed Bonnie Wise, a St. Petersburg financial adviser, as the city's director of revenue and finance, and named Susanna Martinez, a television reporter who covered her campaign, as communications director.
"All three come from the private sector," she noted.
Johnson, 57, has worked as a vice president with SouthTrust Bank and also worked for NationsBank. As a member of the Tampa Housing Authority, Johnson was a critic of former housing director Audley Evans, who was convicted of bribery and accepting illegal gratuities in 2001.
Johnson argued the authority should take Evans' name off the $2-million Audley Evans Multi-purpose Youth Center in Belmont Heights. The name waschanged.
A graduate of the University of Tampa, Johnson also served on the board of the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa, a nonprofit working to redevelop east Tampa.
"I want to commend the mayor," said Chloe Coney, president of the nonprofit corporation. "I am glad to see that she has really kept her word. This area has been neglected."
Johnson said Wednesday he took the job only after being assured he would have authority, a staff and a budget. He will be paid $85,000 a year.
"I want it to be a position where I have decisionmaking ability," said Johnson, who served on Iorio's campaign steering committee.
Iorio plans to reorganize city government to put all economic development staff members in one department. Johnson would oversee an east Tampa community redevelopment agency, several economic department entities and an east Tampa task force. He will also oversee small and minority business lending programs.
Martinez, 28, the senior political reporter for Bay News 9, got to know Iorio as elections supervisor while Martinez covered the 2000 presidential election recount.
"This is a woman that I think is amazing," said Martinez, who also covered the mayor's race.
Iorio first talked to her about working at City Hall weeks before the March 25 election, Martinez said. When Iorio brought up the idea, Martinez said, "You win -- and then we'll talk about it."
Martinez said she didn't consider Iorio's "passing" remark newsworthy, even though Iorio was publicly saying at the time that she had not discussed jobs with anyone. Martinez said the prospect of a job didn't affect her coverage.
Elliott Wiser, general manager of Bay News 9, said editors never detected a bias in her stories.
He learned about Martinez's plan on Tuesday, her last day at work.
"The best measure is what's on the air," said Wiser, adding that many of the cable channel's reporters covered the mayoral race. "Her stories were fair; there was always balance. We never got any complaints."
Martinez, who faced her first news conference Wednesday, said she can make the transition to city official. "I think a lot of what I do as a journalist is public relations." Iorio may bring more journalists to City Hall. She said she wants to recruit Paul Wilborn, a former St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune writer, to work as an aide. Wilborn, now at the Associated Press in Los Angeles, said he would consider an offer.
Iorio also named Wise, senior vice president at William R. Hough & Co., as her new finance director.
Wise, 39, has 16 years of experience working on public finance in the private sector. Her clients include Tampa Bay Water, the city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County government, where Wise worked with Iorio's husband, who is Pinellas' budget director.
Wise will be paid $128,000 a year.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111