Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former county official reshaped Hillsborough political landscape

The most influential person in Hillsborough County politics in 2012 wasn't an elected official, well-monied power broker or big-time lobbyist.

In fact, prior to May, I'm not sure anyone had ever heard of Carolyn Filippone, the human relations director for the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's office. But in the final analysis, the resulting revelations from her sexual discrimination complaint against her boss Rob Turner impacted nine candidates and four races.

Start with the property appraiser's race. Turner appeared set to win a fifth term, but in defending himself, he admitted sending Filippone emails with sexual content and pornographic links. He said it was mutual, with both initiating the exchanges.

Still, the scandal immediately turned the race into a maelstrom for Turner. Former state Rep. Bob Henriquez, D-Tampa and then state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, jumped into the race, setting off a chain reaction.

Former state Senate president Tom Lee, R-Brandon, and then state Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, entered the race to fill Storms' spot.

With Burgin giving up her house seat, Joe Wicker switched from the race for the newly created District 57 seat to compete for Burgin's abandoned District 59 seat. But Republican Ross Spano also saw a path to victory through Burgin's vacated seat.

Filippone's influence, if you will, set dominoes in motion that left some victorious and others with uncertain futures. Turner lost to Storms in the Republican primary, but Henriquez defeated Storms in the general election.

Lee defeated Burgin in the Republican primary and went on to win the general election. He's already gained a leadership position in the Senate.

Wicker lost to the eventual winner Spano in the GOP primary. With Wicker out of the way, Jake Raburn cruised to victory in the District 57 race.

It all left a lot of officials searching for work, including Storms and Burgin.

The possibilities for Storms are the most intriguing. She could bid to return to the County Commission and there will be three options: move into District 4 and run for the seat being vacated by Al Higginbotham, who's term limited; run against savvy incumbent Victor Crist in District 2, where she resides; run countywide for the seat being vacated by Mark Sharpe, who also is term limited.

The last two options are daunting for Storms, but I doubt if she or Burgin are done with politics. Name recognition alone makes them viable.

Still, without Filippone, Burgin and Storms might still be in office, Lee might still be building houses and Henriquez might still be coaching football at Tampa Catholic.

But her biggest influence may be on how bosses treat employees. Clearly, poor judgment can change more than the workplace, but it starts there.

That's all I'm saying.

Former county official reshaped Hillsborough political landscape 12/29/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 29, 2012 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trial begins for man accused of threatening to kill Tampa federal judge

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Jason Jerome Springer was in jail awaiting trial on a firearms charge when he heard inmates talking about a case that had made the news.

    Jason Jerome Springer, 39, is accused of threatening to kill a U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich, according to a federal indictment.  |Hernando County Sheriff's Office photo]
  2. Editorial: Tampa Electric customers should not pay for utility's fatal misjudgments

    Editorials

    There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers. Monetary considerations will not begin to …

    LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers.
  3. Superior Uniform acquires Los Angeles-based PublicIdentity

    Corporate

    SEMINOLE — A subsidiary of Seminole-based Superior Uniform Group has acquired Los Angeles-based branded merchandise company PublicIdentity Inc.

    Superior Uniform Group CEO Michael Benstock
[Courtesy of Superior Uniform Group]
  4. Money is the issue as Hillsborough strains to fix school air conditioners

    K12

    TAMPA — With more than 200 repair requests tumbling in every day, school officials in Hillsborough County are broadening their circle of air conditioning mechanics as they struggle to control a debilitating cycle of breakdowns and sweltering classrooms.

    Hillsborough school officials want to expand the number of contractors who work on broken school air conditioning systems. But it all gets rolled into a workload that has increased by 40 percent since 2011. "With no increase in budget, no increase in equipment and no increase in manpower, and as the equipment gets older and needs more maintenance, this is going to continue to grow," said Robert Weggman, general manager of maintenance." [iStockphoto.com
]
  5. At Bayonet Point Middle School, solar eclipse becomes a lesson

    K12

    NEW PORT RICHEY — At 2:30 Monday afternoon, students and faculty members streamed out of their classrooms and onto the athletic fields at Bayonet Point Middle School. The attraction: the solar eclipse.

    Isiah Echevarria, 10, left, and Andy Shaw, 11, right, take in the solar eclipse during a schoolwide viewing Monday afternoon at Bayonet Point Middle School in New Port Richey. "It's pretty cool," said Andy, 11. "This is actually my first eclipse. The next eclipse won't be for at least 30 years."