Meet with the mayor

Published March 23, 2007

Mayor Pam Iorio is planning her annual "State of the City in New Tampa" visit next week, the day after the area acquires a new City Council member and as several of the city's local public works projects are coming out of the ground.

"Maybe she wants to coronate the next person," joked Frank Margarella, one of the candidates in a runoff for the District 7 council seat Tuesday. Iorio's visit is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Tampa Palms Elementary School.

Margarella's opponent, Joseph Caetano, said he hopes he will be thanking voters at the meeting for electing him the new council member, and pledging to work with Iorio.

"I know we've got to play catchup out here," Caetano said.

Margarella said he'll attend, win or lose. "I'm not going to shy away from the commitment I've made."

Iorio will be accompanied by staffers from city departments to handle a variety of questions.

The event is Iorio's third in New Tampa. Two years ago, she encountered residents irate over the gridlock on Cross Creek Boulevard. Last year, she brought back plans to widen Cross Creek, at least the busy western half.

This year, she arrives as construction is in full bloom, and a month after the city held groundbreaking ceremonies for a gymnastics center and skate park near Freedom High School. It's to be finished next year.

Caetano said he will ask Iorio to find money to four-lane the eastern end of Cross Creek, to Morris Bridge Road.

"You're going to have four lanes funneling into two lanes," he said. "That end of Cross Creek is starting to get busy."

Margarella said he will urge Iorio to plan a visit like her New Tampa meeting for the southern part of District 7, south and southwest of the University of South Florida. During the campaign, voters in those neighborhoods have repeatedly accused the city of favoring New Tampa at their expense.

"The mayor has been visible in New Tampa," Margarella said. "That example is the example she should be setting in the southern part of the district."

Bill Coats can be reached at 813 269-5309 or coats@sptimes.com.

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Mayoral update

Mayor Pam Iorio's visit is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the media center of Tampa Palms Elementary School, 6100 Tampa Palms Blvd.