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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Miller revives Hillsborough Commission makeup proposal



Hillsborough County commissioner Les Miller is reviving a proposal to change the makeup of his board.

Currently the County Commission has three members elected at-large, or in county-wide elections. The other four represent specific geographic areas of the county.

Miller wants five single-member district commissioners serving distinct zones of the county. His reasoning is that district commissioners now represent too many people, so he wants to add another to bring government closer to the public. It would also potentially open the door to create a district with concentrations of Hispanic voters to improve their chances of electing a Hispanic commissioner.

Hispanics now represent 25 percent of the population but few have been elected to the commission.

Miller has suggested the idea twice before but it has won no support from any other commissioners besides fellow Democrat Kevin Beckner. The makeup of the board has not changed from its current 5-2 Republican supermajority. So unless Miller thinks he can capitalize on Republicans' desire to reach out to Hispanic voters, it's not clear how this latest attempt is anything but DOA.

He said he's simply asking commissioners to put the measure on the ballot for voters to decide. The question would go on the ballot for 2014 and would be implemented in 2016.

"My question is, why would you take that approach?" Miller said of simply voting no to maintain a partisan majority. "Why take it out of the hands of the people that elected us to say what they want or do not want?"

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 4:23pm]


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