TAMPA — Blake Casper said he didn’t want to criticize Bill Carlson, but he decided to challenge the South Tampa City Council member in part because of what he said was Carlson’s relationship with the Tensions in the police department.
Is there any sign that the District 4 game might live up to the widely expected expectations for a wild, tough game? An outspoken critic of Carlson, former police chief Brian Dugan, will appear at Casper’s campaign on Feb. 2 at the Casper-owned Oxford Exchange Launching Ceremony.
Casper belongs to a powerful South Tampa family that announced the sale of its McDonald’s franchise last year. He said Tuesday that he now has more time to devote to public service.
“It was my own decision: ‘How can I help? I think I can be of particular help in District 4 because I know the area as well as I do, I’ve lived in the area for 35 years and almost lifetime,” said Casper, 49.
Casper said he supports “smart developments,” which he defines as projects that meet high standards and help improve the quality of life in a community. He also mentioned the issue of transportation.
However, Casper said law and order will be his top priority.
“Law and order, supporting our men and women, our first responders, is very important to me. It’s important to the rest of the South Tampa community. It’s number one,” Casper said, adding Noting that he thought Duggan “was an excellent police chief.”
Duggan and Carlson dislike each other. Dugan has often criticized Carlson, calling him the “bullet bill” because Carlson voted against approving ammunition for shooting ranges in police departments in 2020.
Asked whether Carlson did not support the police, Casper demurred. “I think it’s standing up for our men and women in uniform. I think it comes down to that,” he said.
Carlson said it was “ridiculous” that he did not support the law and order proposal, noting that he voted against Custer’s budget last fall, which included the police budget because it was wasteful, but supported the police component. He said he supported raising police pay and hiring 200 officers to help reduce crime.
He linked Casper to Castor and former mayor Bob Buckhorn, suggesting his campaign was coordinated with their “people.” This is likely to be a theme of the match, with Casper being part of a proxy war between Custer and the committee.
“Being associated with Castor and Buckhorn is not an advantage in this environment,” Carlson said.
castor said she would There is a good chance that Casper will be supported.buckhorn and carlson feud for many years. In an essay Wednesday, the former mayor said he supported Casper “with enthusiasm.”
“Crime is skyrocketing across the city. The current officers are overworked and stressed out. You’d think the ex-police chief would solve the crime problem, but that’s not the case,” Carlson said.
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Casper has deep pockets, but he acknowledged that the campaign in just six weeks will be challenging. He said he didn’t have a specific amount of money to spend, but he was willing to do whatever it took.
“I’m assuming these aren’t congressional races, but I don’t know how much it’s going to cost. I want to get my message across at all costs. That’s really the measure for me: getting it to voters,” he said.
Casper said he looks forward to debating with Carlson, who he acknowledges is growing fast in the city business.
“I don’t understand these issues like Bill does. He’s been doing it for the last four years. But I can bring my experience and why I think I can be an asset,” Casper said.