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Greco ends rumors; won't run

He's enjoying private life, the former mayor says - adding that polls indicate he could have wrested the office from Iorio.

By JANET ZINK
Published January 18, 2007


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TAMPA - After months of speculation that he might make a fifth run for mayor, Dick Greco on Wednesday put the rumors to rest.

"I'm not going to do this," he said. "It's not the right thing for me and my family at this point in my life."

Would he have won had he run?

"Yeah, I think so," Greco said.

Polls commissioned by Greco supporters showed incumbent Mayor Pam Iorio is "very popular" but could be beat, he said.

Choosing not to run was a difficult decision, he said, similar to when he left the mayor's office in 1974 before the end of his second term to work for a developer.

"I get energized just talking about politics. I really do love it," he said.

But Greco said he's enjoying life in the private sector, noting that last year he took a two-week vacation for the first time.

"I should take a few more two weeks every now and then," he said.

So Greco, 73, called a press conference to announce that he would not run for mayor.

He declined to directly criticize Iorio but used the forum to tout his record as mayor, saying publicly many of the things he has been saying privately for months. He handed out a 75-page book outlining his accomplishments during his second stint as mayor from 1995 to 2002.

Greco talked about Centro Ybor, the retail and entertainment complex in Ybor City that his administration backed financially with a $9-million federally backed loan and a parking garage.

In 2004, after it became unprofitable, the city bailed out developers by taking over payments on the federal loan. That has cost taxpayers about $750,000 a year.

Centro Ybor cost $50-million to build and sold late last year for $16-million.

Greco said Centro Ybor was a worthy investment that led to more than $200-million of redevelopment in the surrounding neighborhood.

He talked about buying land for the Riverwalk, a project that has been a priority for Iorio.

He touted adding 145 officers to the city's police force and building fire stations. He reminded reporters that he fought for a community investment tax, an effort, he said, that "took guts."

"There was a lot accomplished in those eight years," he said, because "we got out and did it."

With Greco opting out and the deadline to qualify for city elections Friday at noon, Iorio has only two significant opponents - former fire Chief Aria Green and police Capt. Marion Lewis.

Lewis is battling with city officials over whether he has to resign to run for office. An attorney in the Florida Department of State told Lewis he does not have to, but city attorney David Smith is challenging that opinion and wants a judge to make the final decision. Smith wrote Lewis a letter this week saying that if Lewis qualifies for the mayoral race, "you will be deemed to have resigned."

"They're going to have to terminate me because I'm not resigning," Lewis said Wednesday. "I'm going to report to work as usual. If they ask for my badge then I'll file seeking an injunction."

Lewis also said he is considering filing a criminal complaint against the city. "This is on the line of intimidation," he said.

Rumors have also circulated that retired business owner John Sykes might run for mayor.

"I doubt that John Sykes is going to do that," Greco said at his press conference.

Sykes could not be reached for comment.

Election day is March 6.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

[Last modified January 18, 2007, 05:46:02]


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