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Republicans Hagan, Murman take leads in Hillsborough commission races

Ken Hagan, Republican candidate in the District 5 commission race, celebrates with fists raised as friends and supporters cheer during his watch party at the Italian Club in Ybor City when it’s announced Tuesday evening that he has a commanding lead.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Ken Hagan, Republican candidate in the District 5 commission race, celebrates with fists raised as friends and supporters cheer during his watch party at the Italian Club in Ybor City when it’s announced Tuesday evening that he has a commanding lead.

TAMPA — Republicans will continue to dominate the Hillsborough County Commission, with election returns showing incumbent Ken Hagan winning a countywide seat.

Republican Sandy Murman, a former state representative, also appeared to be headed toward winning a district seat.

Their victories would come at the expense of two Tampa City Council members who resigned to launch Democratic campaigns for the commission.

"We're going to have a very good board and I'm optimistic about what we're going to be able to accomplish," Hagan told supporters who celebrated with him Tuesday night at the Italian Club in Ybor City as he won the District 5 seat.

Hagan served eight years in the District 2 commission seat representing northern Hillsborough before announcing his run for the at-large post.

"The No. 1 priority is job creation and improving our economic development efforts," he said after declaring victory with more than half of the vote.

To boost the local economy, Hagan earlier this year proposed offering property tax breaks to businesses that expand or relocate to the county. The proposal appeared as a referendum on Tuesday's ballot, and voters were approving it by a wide margin.

"I believe it will help bring in major economic powerhouses such as Bass Pro Shops as well as help our local small businesses that want to expand," he said.

Hagan defeated former Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena, a Democrat who served five four-year terms on the council where she earned a reputation as an advocate for the environment, historic preservation and urban redevelopment.

She watched returns at the Pour House, a beer and wine bar in the Channel District.

"I am so proud of the campaign that I ran for County Commission and the innovative and creative people who helped me along the way, my staff and family. I wish Hillsborough County well," she said.

Former county planner Jim Hosler, who ran with no party affiliation, received about 5 percent of the vote in the District 5 contest.

With most of the vote in, returns showed Murman winning over Democrat John Dingfelder, who served two terms on the Tampa City Council, in the District 1 seat that represents Town 'N Country, South Tampa and the southern Hillsborough shoreline.

Murman, who served in the state House from 1996 to 2004, ran on a pro-business, anti-tax platform, coming out against a proposed 1 cent tax to pay for improved roads, expanded bus service and light rail. Voters defeated a referendum on that measure Tuesday.

Murman has pledged to cut County Commission salaries by 5 percent and reduce regulations to ease the way for small business growth.

She watched returns with supporters at her Davis Islands home. "I am going to be hard-charging, fast," she said. "I'm going to get the job done."

She said her top priorities would be reviewing the county budget to eliminate waste.

"It's more about a refining of the policy, especially human resources," she said.

Specifically, she said she wants to make sure salaries and benefits are commensurate with those paid in the private sector to "keep in line with what the taxpayers are experiencing."

She also said she wants to look for more ways to consolidate county functions with those of other governments.

In other County Commission races, Republican incumbent Mark Sharpe held onto his countywide District 7 seat, handily besting write-in candidate Benjamin Harold Stutzman and Neil Cosentino, who ran with no party affiliation.

In the race for the District 2 seat, Republican Victor Crist, whose District 12 state Senate post term limits expired, easily defeated Steven Morris, who ran with no party affiliation.

Democrat Les Miller also had an easy win, defeating write-in candidate Dwight Anthony Bolden in the race for the District 3 seat that represents downtown, parts of east and West Tampa and eastern Hillsborough.

Miller formerly served in the state House and state Senate. He defeated incumbent Kevin White in the Democratic primary.

The winners join Democrat Kevin Beckner and Republican Al Higginbotham.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Republicans Hagan, Murman take leads in Hillsborough commission races 11/02/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 2:13am]

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