Iorio wins mayoral runoff

It was pure domination, a rout, a landslide.

Whatever word is used to describe Tuesday’s Tampa mayoral runoff, the end result remains the same: Pam Iorio will be the city’s next mayor, and she earned the position in spectacular fashion.

Iorio, the former Hillsborough County Supervisor of elections who is known for her implementation of the touchscreen voting system, cruised to victory over Frank Sanchez, winning with an impressive 64 percent of the vote.

Sanchez called Iorio to concede at about 8:40 Tuesday evening, less than two hours after the polls closed. Moments later, Iorio danced a brief jig across the stage at the Stumps Supper Club in the Channelside District.

Iorio, with family behind her, thanked Sanchez and her supporters, and said she looks forward to the challenge ahead.

“I entered this race because I love this city, and I want it to be better. This effort involves the entire community,” Iorio said. “I will give it my very best. I will not let you down.”

Iorio quickly turned her attention to the youth present in the room. She said she could not have won the election without the help of young supporters.

Iorio urged young people to consider lives in public service. She said one of her first objectives will be to form a youth corps to help the community.

“Politics need not be about money. It’s about ideas,” Iorio said. “Make your community a better place to live.”

Just up the road from Iorio’s victory party at the Cuban Club in Ybor City, Sanchez appeared before supporters and the media to accept his defeat.

While Sanchez wished the race could have been closer, he said he isn’t done with Tampa.

“My future is here. That is why I ran for mayor and that is why we will together to do everything we can to make Tampa everything it can be,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said he looks forward to returning to his business, where he plans to help develop international trade-off relations in Tampa as he proposed in his campaign.

“I’ve only begun to fight and I’m going to continue to get involved in growing our economy and helping redevelop our most challenged neighborhoods. That won’t stop me from getting involved even though I didn’t win the election,” Sanchez said.

During the two weeks after the first mayoral election on March 4, Sanchez addressed Iorio’s record during her county commissioner days. Local newspapers reported that Sanchez’ campaign had turned into an attack on Iorio.

Sanchez said he doesn’t blame the media for his loss and negative politics wasn’t the focus of his campaign.

“Whatever worked well in my campaign, I’ll take credit for and whatever screwed up, I’ll take responsibility,” Sanchez said. “I’ll make my best efforts to work with (Iorio). I expect her to be an excellent mayor.”

Sanchez said he wants to stay active in redeveloping Tampa, but he is not interested in taking a full-time position. He said he can’t give any specifics on whether he will run for any political office in the near future. For now, he said he wants to return to his business.

“I want to still focus on some of the issues I raised during my campaign,” Sanchez said. “This has not soured me at all.”

Sanchez said one of the main reasons he believes he lost to Iorio was because of her established name recognition.

“I was running against someone the people knew and trusted,” Sanchez said. “Ms. Iorio is extremely popular, well liked and people felt comfortable with her. She has grown trust with the people for 18 years and that mattered a lot.”

Iorio’s decisive victory Tuesday was not a surprise considering her performance in the initial March 4 election. At that time, Iorio had been on the campaign trail for 57 days. Many of her opponents had campaigned for more than a year.

Iorio dominated March 4, earning 46 percent of the vote despite four other candidates and coming four percentage points shy of winning the election outright.

Iorio said she is humbled by the responsibility the voters have placed upon her.

“I believe in this city … When we see an overgrown lot of weeds, can’t we see a park where children can play?” Iorio said. “I want everyone to know … we are going to work every single day to make (Tampa) a better place for everyone. We want every part of Tampa to be the best it can be.”

The turnout for Tuesday’s runoff was 28.99 percent. That was down from the 33.05 percent that voted in the initial election.