Tampa Pride kicks off 2019 fundraising, highlights Tampa mayoral candidates

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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(L-R) Tampa Pride President Carrie West and Tampa mayoral candidates David Straz, Ed Turanchik, Jane Castor and Topher Morrison outline their vision for Tampa Nov. 17. PHOTO BY RYAN WILLIAMS-JENT

TAMPA | Tampa Pride held its first 2019 fundraiser at ZooTampa Nov. 17 to highlight the organization’s fifth year and introduce Tampa mayoral candidates Jane Castor, Topher Morrison, David Straz and Ed Turanchik.

“You’re just seeing the beginning of what our new Tampa Pride is going to be all about,” Tampa Pride President Carrie West shared with those gathered for Pride-Zoo-La, stressing the celebration’s climbing attendance. “We thought we’d have 10,000 our first year and had over 20,000. Our second year, we said we’ll have 20,000 and we had 30,000. “Our third year we said 25,000 just to be safe – 35,000,” he mused. “Last year we were 40,000 and we greatly appreciate all of your help in making it happen.”
West noted that Tampa Pride would reach its fifth year, in part, because of Tampa’s inclusive nature. He pointed to the city’s perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) as an example. It examines how inclusive laws and policies are for LGBTQ people in cities nationwide.

“We were honored when Tampa received a 100,” West said. “We are not going back; we are only going to go forward.”

To illustrate this, he invited Tampa mayoral candidates Castor, Morrison, Straz and Turanchik to the stage to outline their candidacy and support for equality.

“I participated in the Tampa Pride parade in 2018 and I’ll be a sponsor and participate in the parade in 2019,” billionaire Straz succinctly shared.

Former county commissioner Turanchik followed, pointing out that Keith Roberts, who fought for equality throughout Hillsborough County in 1991, was present.

“Because of champions like this, we’ve built on what they’ve built and we need to keep on building,” Turanchik said. “Let’s keep on growing Tampa. Equality for all of us.”

Castor, the city’s former police chief who is openly LGBTQ, spoke next. “I have to say thank you to the entire Tampa Pride committee for bringing Pride back to Tampa,” she said. Castor noted it was an honor to serve as the celebration’s grand marshal on two occasions.

She also echoed West in applauding Tampa’s MEI score. “It’s one of the things that make me so proud to be a resident of Tampa, the way that we embrace our diversity,” Castor said.

“What is expected in our city is that you have the qualifications to do a good job; it doesn’t matter what ethnicity, what culture or if you’re LGBTQ,” she continued. “People just want you to do a good job. That’s one of the reasons that I love this city and that’s one of the reasons that I’m running for mayor.”

Entrepreneur Morrison concluded the presentation. “I’m going to be your small business mayor,” he said. “I think we spend far too much time, energy and focus trying to recruit big fortune 500 companies; I think we should spend our time, energy and focus trying to grow the next fortune 500 company right here.

“I’m about tolerance and understanding, I’m about embracing collaboration and love,” he continued. “I think we need to not have people who will advocate, but people who will fight for equality and the rights of everybody.”

Tampa’s mayoral election will be held March 5, 2019. The fifth annual Tampa Pride will be held March 30, 2019. For more information, visit TampaPride.org

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