tampabay.com

We the people

Fourteenth Amendment: No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States . . .

By CHRIS ZUPPA
Published April 15, 2007


Marion Serious Lewis arrived at his party long after it began in the dimly lit ballroom of the Comfort Inn in Tampa. A handful of supporters remained. He greeted them with hugs, handshakes and gratitude. He expressed some disappointment. And he comforted Latoya Grandberry, a 25-year-old campaign volunteer who wept in his arms. From the start, it seemed improbable that he could build a strong challenge against the popular Mayor Pam Iorio, but Lewis maintained hope. The 49-year-old candidate lost his job as a Tampa police officer after 26 years on the force. Florida law prohibits police officers or sheriff's deputies from running for public office against their boss. The city said the mayor is the boss. Lewis countered that the police chief was his boss. "Everybody has the right to engage in the political activity," Lewis said. "I think for an organization to say you can't run for a particular office without jeopardizing your livelihood is wrong." He attended political forums, stood on street corners, walked door-to-door. He listened to the homeless, the poor, the middle class, campaigning on a vision for an all-inclusive city for all classes. On Election Day in early March, 15 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. They overwhelmingly voted for the status quo.