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Hillsborough Commissioner Mark Sharpe draws two election challengers

TAMPA — Republican Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe has some challengers in his bid for re-election in 2010.

So far, Democrats Linda Wilcox and Neil Cosentino have filed to run for the post.

Wilcox is the general manager of the Blues Ship Cafe and Good Luck Cafe in Ybor City. He also manages residential rental property.

"I deal with people of all walks of life," she said. "I think I could make a difference for the common person."

Among her complaints about county government: its decision several years ago to remove vision coverage from the county's health care plan for the poor.

"If you can't see, you can't work, you can't drive," said Wilcox, who formerly worked as an optician.

Cosentino is best known as the man who saved the old Gandy Bridge from demolition so it could become a pedestrian trail. He ran unsuccessfully for the state House in 1998 and for Tampa mayor in 2003.

Key issues on his platform include consolidating Tampa and Hillsborough County into a "super county" like Miami-Dade and Jacksonville-Duval, and opposing a proposed 1-cent sales tax to help pay for light rail in the county.

Sharpe, a Republican, is one of the region's most vocal supporters of light rail and the tax.

Cosentino said he thinks the rail line will be too expensive to build and operate, and he questions whether the county has the population density to keep trains busy with riders.

Cosentino says he'll formally announce his candidacy on New Year's Eve, when there will be a so-called blue moon, the designation given to the second full moon of a month.

"Since I'm a Democrat, the blue moon is the day that I'll officially declare," Cosentino said.

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

Hillsborough Commissioner Mark Sharpe draws two election challengers 12/28/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 8:07am]
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