By Geoff Rogers

Special to the Tampa Bay Times

As the Tampa mayoral race builds to Tuesday’s election, candidates should focus on more than cheaper housing and reducing traffic congestion. Sex trafficking is rampant in our city, and eradicating it should be a top priority when the new mayor enters office.

Recent stories about Robert Kraft, owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, have drawn national attention to the sex industry in Florida — but the real story is far more horrifying and heartbreaking than that of a billionaire being busted by the cops. Florida currently ranks third in the nation for the number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline; Tampa ranks 12th of all American cities for the number of calls per capita. The problem is only growing; in 2016, the Florida Department of Children and Families counted nearly 1,900 reports of human trafficking statewide, a 54 percent increase from 2015.