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Tampa council members react to police Chief Mary O’Connor’s resignation

TAMPA — Council member Charlie Miranda said he voted for Mary O’Connor for police chief in April because “there was no other choice. There was only one person standing in front of me” when he took the vote to confirm her.

Miranda privately supported former assistant police Chief Butch Delgado, but publicly voiced support for Mayor Jane Castor’s selection. “I wasn’t going to divide the city even more. I wasn’t going to do that.”

But news of O’Connor’s resignation Monday morning left Miranda thinking about baseball. His coach used to tell his players it’s OK to make an error, but never a mistake. So, you miss a ground ball? Error. But you forget how many outs there are with a runner on third? Mistake.

“That would apply to Chief O’Connor,” Miranda said.

Miranda, a staunch Castor ally, said he was sorry that yet another controversy has capped a year full of City Hall drama. He was joined by other council members in voicing similar regret.

“It’s sad. It really is sad,” he said.

Orlando Gudes has a different relationship with Castor, who officially filed paperwork for reelection a week ago.

Gudes has accused the mayor and her staff of seeking to destroy his career because he opposed her on some issues. Castor called for Gudes to step down in April after a city investigation found he had created a hostile work environment for a former aide. Gudes resigned his chairpersonship, but defied Castor and stayed on the council. Recently, Gudes has appeared at several city events with the mayor.

Gudes said he won’t “bash” Castor over her poor choice for police chief, even though he was one of two votes against O’Connor in an April council confirmation vote. And he said, as a “godly person,” he wouldn’t take the opportunity to revel in the mayor’s troubles.

”I’m not going to do what was done to me,” Gudes said.

Bill Carlson, the other vote against O’Connor, texted his reaction to the news.

“The incident has embarrassed our great city in the national and international media. Poor decisions like this and the current civil rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice undermine our city’s ability to attract investment and the best and brightest entrepreneurs,” texted Carlson.

He said that the mayor needs to learn from “this mistake” and build consensus with “the council and community on important issues.”

Council member Lynn Hurtak, who was appointed to the City Council after John Dingfelder’s resignation and who wasn’t on the board when O’Connor was picked as police chief, weighed in by issuing a statement.

“It’s unfortunate that former Police Chief O’Connor’s decisions brought us to this moment. I look forward to City Council having the opportunity to approve a new police chief who will continue the department’s renewed focus on community engagement and officers’ mental and physical health,” the statement read.

Council member Luis Viera, who has backed Castor on many issues since her 2019 election, said Florida’s third-largest city needs to step up its game.

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“This whole episode has been very disappointing on many levels. Our police officers and residents deserve better,” he texted.

Viera called for a “smooth transition” in picking the next police chief.

“Our police and the city deserve a process that learns from the past and is robust, efficient and responsible — and as free as possible from unnecessary political turbulence,” Viera said.

Council members Guido Maniscalco and Joseph Citro didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.