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Tampa's Mayor Credits Vote to Handling of Riot

March 05, 1987|Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — Mayor Sandy Freedman, elected to her first full term with 66% of the vote, said Wednesday her landslide victory showed that her administration had properly handled three nights of recent racial violence.

Freedman carried all but one of the city's 78 precincts Tuesday in a five-way, nonpartisan race, becoming the first woman elected mayor of Tampa.

She took over the job in July when then-Mayor Bob Martinez resigned to devote his time to his successful gubernatorial campaign. She is a 12-year member of the City Council, and has been chairwoman since 1983.

Freedman overcame a barrage of last-minute attacks by opponents over racial disturbances that followed the Feb. 18 death of a 23-year-old black man after a police officer used a chokehold to subdue him.

In Tampa's College Hill section, where the rock- and bottle-throwing, looting and arson by young blacks was most intense, Freedman overwhelmed all of her opponents, collecting 379 votes to their combined total of 21.

"I think we handled it well and people in the community recognized that," Freedman said Wednesday of the violence. "We reacted with a great deal of restraint. If we had mass arrests, we would have had bodily injury if not loss of life."

Eighteen people were arrested and 10 were injured in the disturbances. On Feb. 19, the first night of disorder, police made no arrests but instead concentrated on dispersing an unruly crowd of 200.

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