Campaign Trail Mix: Candor Over Pander

*A young man approached me the other night before a political forum at the Doubletree Hotel Westshore. “Could you help me with this?” he asked. “I don’t do these.” As it turned out, he needed assistance with a necktie. I tied it on myself and then looped the striped tie back over my head and gave it to him. It clashed with his floral shirt, but he was no longer tie-less.

It was Kelly Benjamin, the 27-year-old community activist who is challenging Rose Ferlita for her District 2, citywide seat on City Council.

*Mayoral candidates participated in the Doubletree forum, which was sponsored by the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs, the Tampa Bay Male Club, the Tampa Bay Black Republican Club and 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay. They spent a lot of time talking about drug holes and economic development in East Tampa. As in addressing the former to have hope for the latter.

*Most of the candidates cited track records of inclusiveness. The evening’s most candid line came from long-shot candidate Don Ardell on the subject of black-vote courtship. “I’ve got the black vote sewn up,” he joked. After the good-natured laughter had subsided, he added, “I have the good sense not to go to your churches. You don’t want me there

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