Charlie Miranda does not mince words.
He is a conservative person. He is, he said, the most prepared candidate to be Tampa’s next mayor. He said good mayors rarely come from outside of city government.
And, Miranda said, what you see with him is exactly what you get.
“I just tell (people) how I am,” Miranda said. “(I) don’t sugar-coat things. I’m very direct, and I don’t hug you or kiss you either (like some candidates).”
Miranda said he does not make himself to be more than he is, as other candidates might. Instead, he said he chooses to let his accomplishments speak for themselves.
Miranda has, if nothing else, an interesting background. Born in Ybor City, he has run both a successful restaurant and a thoroughbred horseracing stable. He is the current chairman of the Tampa City Council.
All of those jobs, Miranda said, require managerial experience. He said it is that experience that will make him a good mayor.
“I don’t spend money unless I have to. I (believe in) getting a dollar’s work for a dollar spent,” Miranda said. “Tampa is going to need a manager.”
But, Miranda said he realizes that he is just a part of the whole. He likens himself to a sparkplug within an engine. He said he is just one part of government that makes the whole work better.
Miranda said his goal is to simply try to do what’s best for the city, even if his ideas don’t always work.
“Trying, to me, is enough,” Miranda said. “You don’t have to be successful.”
When it comes to running for mayor, however, Miranda would like to succeed. And now, after 13 months of campaigning, he is within a week of the most important election of his political career. But Miranda said he is not nervous.
“Why should I get nervous? (The voters) are making the decision,” Miranda said. “I love the process.”
It has long been thought that with so many candidates, Tuesday’s election would result in a run-off. But, the latest polls indicate that Pam Iorio may earn a majority of the vote.
Miranda, fellow city councilman Bob Buckhorn and businessman Frank Sanchez are in a tight race for second place, which, should Iorio not reach 50 percent, will be a run-off spot.
“The only poll I believe in is the election night poll,” Miranda said.
With nearly a third of those polled saying they have yet to decide, Miranda said he is confident there will be a run-off. In addition, he said that he will be the candidate to go up against Iorio, and, as a result, he is turning his attention toward defeating the former Hillsborough County supervisor of elections. Miranda said he would defeat her easily in a run-off.
“(If Iorio doesn’t) get over 40 percent in the primary, (she’s) dead meat,” Miranda said.
Miranda said those involved with county government do not make good mayors. He said county government is “antiquated” and does not relate well to the city.
“The only thing they give us is lip service,” Miranda said.
Miranda said he, in his post at city council, has managed as many as 3,500 people at a time while Iorio has only run a small office. In addition, he said she has used that office to further her candidacy for mayor.
“She used taxpayer-funded monies to promote (her candidacy),” Miranda said.
Miranda said he sees himself as a sort of dying breed. He said middle-class candidates, such as himself, can no longer compete with the candidates with deeper pockets.
Miranda said, even with no campaign employees, he spent $1.6 million dollars. He said this will be the last election in which a middle-class candidate has a chance.
“It’s very hard to be a candidate of credibility when the media makes you raise (so much money),” Miranda said. “When nobody knows who you are, you can’t shake enough hands.”
Should Miranda become the final middle-class mayor, he will be faced with the daunting task of building Tampa’s economy during tough times. That has been the single largest topic of debate throughout this campaign, with every candidate putting a different spin on how he or she will attract business.
Miranda said he wants to attract business to the area. However, he said, before doing so, Tampa must be cleaned up.
“No one is going to move to Tampa with employment opportunities when you have high-crime areas,” Miranda said.
Miranda said he wants to see high-tech business grow. However, he said the government must be careful not to support the technical industries at the expense of other growth areas.
“It’s up to the tech sector to create and want their own need in the area,” Miranda said. “I don’t want to risk making a giant leap. There is nothing wrong with tech, but you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket.”