Yolie Capin addresses her supporters with her daughter Jessica at right and restauranteur Richard Gonzmart at left.
Although she hadn't planned to inaugurate her reelection campaign so soon, Tampa City Councilwoman Yolie Capin wasn't about to turn down Richard Gonzmart's offer to open up his much-hyped Ulele restaurant early to kick off her fundraising efforts.
So on Tuesday night, more than eight months before the city's municipal elections, a big crowd seized the opportunity to be among the first to visit the Columbia Restaurant Group’s latest endeavor, where they noshed on food and wine generously offered up gratis, and walked around the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time eatery (yellow tape blocked off parts of the first floor).
As the star of the evening, Capin stood sentry just inside the entrance with her daughter Jessica, making sure to effusively thank everyone who entered for being part of her reelection debut.
And while there were plenty of local officials in attendance (City Councilman Harry Cohen, County Commissioners Les Miller and Kevin Beckner, Representative Janet Cruz and County Appraiser Bob Henriquez, among others), there were plenty of movers and shakers from the private sector on hand as well.
In her prepared remarks, the councilwoman read notes from her "first-edition" palm card, as she called it, which highlights legislation that either passed as an ordinance, a resolution or an amendment. The biggest cheer she received was for sponsoring the creation of a domestic partnership registry in Tampa, a move that proved to be a catalyst for other local governments in the Bay area.
An initiative that hasn't been as well-received has been her attempt to have the city create a public-private Employment-Based EB-5 Regional Center in Tampa. Though the City Council passed such a resolution over a year ago, it hasn't received much traction in City Hall.
Capin also referred to another high-profile effort she's been involved with — naming the Cuban sandwich as Tampa’s official sandwich, which she says arose from the cultural assets committee.
One issue that she has proposed that hasn't come to fruition is a late-night permit, a measure to give the city some power to prevent illicit behavior in nightclubs. But nobody can blame her for the slow going on that measure. The Council has dithered on the subject for well over a year, and will revisit the issue this Thursday, with seemingly no new nightclub regulations in sight.
"You love the city of Tampa because you care about its leadership," Capin said toward the conclusion of her remarks to the audience, most of whom kept quiet enough to hear her in the two-story building. "Everybody wants the city of Tampa to be the best city ever, and to be the best city does not require good government, it requires excellent government."
She ended with a quote that "ideas without action is simply conversation." She then attempted to speak about her late husband Juan, who passed away last September at 67 of liver cancer. The couple had been married for 44 years, and together as a team for half a century. The councilwoman was only able to say his name before breaking up, unable to continue speaking.
She hugged her daughter Jessica, and then her longtime family friend Alex Gonzalez grabbed the mic and made the big ask for campaign contributions. And while that was the main purpose of the event, it was also undoubtedly a chance for those in attendance to pay tribute to a politician for whom they truly have affection.