Police union protests Saul-Sena commission run
Nearly 20 supporters of the police union greeted Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena today when she arrived at Union Station to announce her run for the Hillsborough County Commission. But they weren't there to back her. They were there to blast her.
They carried signs accusing Saul-Sena of preferring high-speed rail to safe streets and not supporting police officers. Saul-Sena was among the five council members who voted against a police union request for raises in December. Union members say that all the council members who voted against them and are running for office (so far that's John Dingfelder, who is running for County Commission, and Tom Scott, who is running for mayor) should expect the same treatment. "When Joe Caetano runs it will be a different message," said union senior vice president Jimmy Meier. Caetano cast the lone vote in favor of the police union. He is seeking re-election to the council.
Saul-Sena delivered her remarks surrounded by about two dozen supporters. Among them was Phil Compton, who leads Friends of the River. He said Saul-Sena's work for the environment is only one reason he is backing her. "It's her support for the arts. It's her support for safer streets. It's her support for better transportation. It's her support for bringing real good-paying jobs to our community," he said. "Linda gets it."
Saul-Sena touted her time working on the county planning commission before serving nearly 20 years on the council. "My passion has always centered on smart, balanced growth," she said. "We must recognize the limits of our fragile natural environment and grow strategically." Saul-Sena also said she would push for more collaboration between the city and county on such matters as fleet maintenance and purchasing to save taxpayer money. "For too long the county has behaved as if the city was the doughnut hole and they were the doughnut," she said. "I will work to change this wasteful system."
Campaign consultant Mitch Kates, who helped County Commissioner Kevin Beckner defeat incumbent Brian Blair in 2008, is working for Saul-Sena. "Voters in Hillsborough County are hungry for new leadership," Kates said. "What we saw in the 2008 cycle was just the beginning."
Janet Zink, Times staff writer