Anti-rail candidate takes on Hagan and Saul-Sena in commission race
Jim Hosler, a former county planner, has filed to run against Republican Ken Hagan and Democrat Linda Saul-Sena in the race for the District 5 Hillsborough County Commission seat now held by Jim Norman. Hosler is running with no party affiliation, saying he doesn't like partisan politics. Hosler has been a relentless opponent of the county's rail proposal, saying it's based on flawed ridership and financial projections. For 18 years, Hosler worked as a director of research and economic development at the Hillsborough County planning commission, and says he is familiar with the data behind the rail plans.
"I know that it's cooked," he said. He has worked as a demographer in the private sector for the past four years.
Hosler said rail sales tax opponents Brandon businessman Sam Rashid, developer Steven Dibbs and David Caton all tried to convince him to take on Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who is running for re-election, in the Republican primary. Sharpe is one of the biggest champions of the proposed 1-cent sales tax to pay for expanded bus service, road improvements and light rail. Hosler said the demographics in the District 5 race are better for him, because Hagan has a strong challenger in Saul-Sena, who will capture the pro-rail voters. "Hagan and I can fight over the non-rail people, which I think are the majority," he said.
Hosler said Hagan also tried to convince him to run against Sharpe. Hagan said that's not true, and he remembers the conversation this way: "He told me in my office about five weeks ago that he did not want to run for office, but if he did, it would be against Commissioner Sharpe."
Rail isn't the only thing that prompted Hosler to run. It's also "just the idiocy of the way the board conducts itself."
In his opening salvo, Hosler took shots at Hagan, saying he thinks it's disingenuous for Hagan to support putting the tax on the ballot even though he believes it should fail, and because Hagan is violating the intent of term limits by switching from a district seat to a countywide seat after seven years on the commission. Hosler said if he's elected he will push for term limits of eight years on the board.
Update: Sam Rashid says he has never met Hosler and never suggested he run against Sharpe. When asked, Hosler clarified and said he heard through someone else that Rashid wanted him to run against Sharpe. Caton confirmed that he did encourage to Hosler run against Sharpe, but said he will support him against Hagan. Interesting note: Hagan recently appointed Caton to serve on the county's charter review board.
Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer