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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hagan elected chairman of Hillsborough County Commission

15

November

Hillsborough County commissioners elected Republican Ken Hagan as their chairman, a position he has held three times before, during their annual organizational meeting Tuesday.

The election capped months of intensive lobbying that commissioners acknowledged was even more pitched than years past. While the post is largely ceremonial, it does come with a $10,000 pay boost and, next year, an opportunity to be the county's representative when the Republican National Convention comes to town. 

Hagan was elected 5-2, with commissioners Mark Sharpe and Al Higginbotham, the immediate past chairman, voting no. Backers of Higginbotham, Hagan and Sharpe, had been lobbying for their guy to get the nod. Sharpe has been the jilted bride several times in the past, getting passed over for the job, and was again this year. Higginbotham, declining his own nomination to be chair from Victor Crist, instead nominated Sharpe, who got only three votes -- from Crist, Higginbotham and himself.

Democrat Kevin Beckner turned out to be the swing vote, casting his lot with Hagan rather than Sharpe, who loses out in the slightly higher profile the chairman has as he tries to unseat U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, for Congress.

Given the backbiting this year, Democrat Les Miller put forward and won support to make the chairman a rotational job starting in 2012. He accepted a tweak from Beckner that would give Sharpe, as the most senior member of the board who hasn't been chairman, the first rotational spot. Beckner, as the second most senior commissioner who has not been chairman, would get the nod the following year. Then the rotation would move to the District 1 seat currently held by Republican Sandy Murman and continue in order. Each chairman would need to have served at least a year on the board, and will be past over if that is not the case when their spot in the rotation comes up.

Until then, Murman was selected vice chairman by the board this year and Miller the chaplain.

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 6:34pm]

    

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