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SG event brings City Council to campus

Tampas future will be up for review tonight as students will have the opportunity to ask questions of Tampa City Council members relating to USF and the city at large.

Tampa City Council members Lisa Montelione and Mike Suarez will be on hand at 5:30 p.m. in the Marshall Student Center (MSC), room 3711. A third council member, Harry Cohen, may or may not appear due to scheduling conflicts, said Abdool Aziz, Student Government (SG) chairman of the Committee on Community and Government Affairs.

Aziz said the event will allow students to make interconnected relationships with their local representatives and provide direction to get involved and make changes.

When it comes down to issues, when all the local representatives know USF and have a stake and know who we are, they will have a better understanding of what our needs are and our students will know they have representation and support in the community for them, he said.

The council members will take questions from the audience, but some planned topics of discussion include keeping graduates and talent in Tampa, the future economic development of the city and ways in which students can get involved in the local government.

The Tampa Tomorrow series focuses on the future of the Tampa Bay area and was started in October with Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

We first started off with the mayor, since he was newly elected, to really hold him to his campaign ideas, Aziz said. To really get him while (he was) fresh (and) to build a strong relationship early on.

After the mayors fall speech and a series of SG Senate meetings where members of the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners spoke to students, Aziz said the next step was to invite the council members so all levels of the local government appeared at USF.

Toby Thomson, associate director of government affairs, said he reached out to Marcus Garza, a legislative aide for Montelione, to confirm a date when five out of the seven council members could attend, though that has since changed.

Initially, we had five, and its kind of trickled down from then, Thomson said. Being on city council is a part-time job. A lot of them have work outside the city council, like their own businesses.

Thomson said he thinks having two members will be sufficient for the event, since Montelione and Suarez are engaged with student concerns such as mass transit and both graduated from USF.

We were kind of expecting them to come because of the connection, Thomson said.

Aziz said SG has been working on more marketing for this event to attract more attendants than Buckhorns event, which had 120 people. In the future, SG plans to host different events with council members, such as workshops, to better reach remote audiences on campus, such as USF Health, and host higher-profile guests.

Eventually, we hope to have higher level political representatives to come from the national level, he said. The goal is to continue to build a strong relationship between USF students and the City of Tampa to grow the relationship and make it strong for students to know that theres a voice for them.