Supporters of elected county mayor buoyed by vote in Hillsborough
Supporters of creating an elected Hillsborough County mayor are taking some heart from this month's election.
The outcome of a question toward the bottom of the ballot suggests that if they can get the county mayor question before voters there's a good chance it will pass.
The little-publicized ballot question asked voters if they support repealing veto powers for a prospective county mayor. It was the only charter question that was rejected by voters.
County mayor backers have been trying for four years to ask voters if they support creating the post. They just missed collecting enough petition signatures in 2006 to put the issue on the ballot, then the question got tossed off the ballot in court two years later. Another petition gathering drive this year fell far short.
Creating veto powers for the county mayor was a companion measure in 2008 to the question of whether the office should be created in the first place. It wasn't challenged in court and passed easily. Now voters have upheld those veto powers.
"I think there is no question that the people absolutely have sent a message twice," said Mary Ann Stiles, the lawyer who has led the effort to create an elected mayor. "They want to change the form of county government."
Stiles said she is hoping to use the outcome to press county commissioners or the Charter Review Board to place the county mayor question on the ballot, something both bodies have so far declined to do. Barring that, Stiles said she will make another running at collecting signatures from voters to place the issue on the 2012 ballot.