Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough County Commission candidates air views at New Tampa meeting

NEW TAMPA — Light rail, a county mayoral form of government and libraries were among topics covered Monday during a town hall meeting featuring four candidates vying for Hillsborough County Commission seats.

The luncheon, sponsored by the New Tampa Chamber of Commerce, drew about 40 people to the Pebble Creek Golf Club, where they got to meet some of the politicians who want to serve this northeastern pocket of Hillsborough County.

County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan, running for the at-large District 5 post, faced off against fellow Republican Don Kruse and James Hosler, who has no party affiliation. Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena, a Democrat also gunning for the District 5 seat, did not attend because she was traveling.

Republican Linda Pearson, an urban planner, also participated in the forum. She intends to file for the District 2 seat, which Hagan is expected to give up in order to run for the District 5 post. District 2 covers northern Hillsborough, including New Tampa.

Chamber members submitted questions for the candidates, who kept the air cordial and the pace swift. One candidate lodged a few light zingers at Hagan, who sits on a board currently embroiled in a circus-like drama.

A moment that drew chuckles came when the candidates were asked if they support the need for a county mayor, and Hosler, a former county planner, replied: "The existing system does not work. I think you need to elect better candidates."

Pearson wanted to let residents vote on the county mayor issue, saying it is difficult for a county administrator to serve seven bosses.

Kruse, meanwhile, called for a consolidated city and county government, criticizing the separate city mayor and county administrator forms of government.

"You feel like babysitting kids who don't want to share toys," he said.

Hagan, however, said he was adamantly opposed to a county mayor because it brings higher taxes, more spending and more debt.

"There's also no transparency and oversight," he said.

A hot topic, a proposed penny sales tax in Hillsborough County to pay for light rail, expanded bus service and road work, drew strong remarks from Kruse, Hosler and Pearson, who oppose the idea.

"It's an incredibly bad idea right now," Hosler said.

Hagan, however, was not ready to banish the proposed tax referendum outright.

"Personally, I'm not a rail advocate," he said. "But this issue should be on the ballot. You should have the opportunity to shoot it down."

There was one issue they all agreed on: support for the public library system.

Pearson wanted to see more convenient hours; Hosler called for an expanded client base; Kruse wanted more private money put into the system; and Hagan said he supports expansion.

The primary election is Aug. 24. The general election is Nov. 2.

Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813)909-4613 or

Hillsborough County Commission candidates air views at New Tampa meeting 05/13/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 2:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Good to be bad? Dirk Koetter's call for bold, brash Bucs


    Is being a badass team all about swagger and toughness? "Our whole thing is about competing," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says. (Loren Elliott | Times)
  2. St. Pete sewage crisis ends with no charges, $326 million bill


    ST. PETERSBURG — The city has put the legal fallout from the sewage crisis behind it.

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system in September 2016. The city recently learned that no employees will face charges as a result of that crisis. The St. Petersburg City Council also agreed to spend $326 million fixing its sewer system. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. Epilogue: Tony Scaglione served Ybor delicacies and laughs


    Tony Scaglione's childhood dream was to own his family's restaurant.

    Tony Scaglione - the longtime owner of Tony's Ybor Restaurant - has died.  He was 87. Credit: Larry Scaglione
  4. What you need to know for Friday, July 21


    href=""> Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during minicamp this summer. He said the Bucs could be "a bad--- football team." [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Final sign positions should cut danger where trail crosses interstate ramp


    I am concerned with the yield signs I saw recently installed for the new bike and pedestrian trail along either side of Roosevelt Boulevard between Carillon Parkway/28th Street and Interstate 275. These yield signs seem to be pointing to the drivers, one side as they exit the interstate northbound, the other as they …