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Tea party activist challenges Victor Crist for Hillsborough County Commission seat

TAMPA — Sharon Calvert, a co-founder of the Tampa tea party, will challenge fellow Republican and incumbent Victor Crist for the District 2 Hillsborough County Commission seat.

Calvert, 54, of Lutz, said Thursday she wants to bring her advocacy for lower taxes and fewer regulations to local elected office. Asked why she is challenging Crist in the Aug. 14 primary election, Calvert offered few pointed contrasts.

"It's my district," she said of the seat, which represents much of northern Hillsborough County.

One distinction she did offer between herself and Crist involved garbage service. Commissioners voted unanimously late last year to seek bids for trash pickup. But the vote came after a majority of commissioners, including Crist, stated they were leaning toward extending existing contracts, which drew a room full of protesters on decision day.

Calvert said she always favors testing the free market by seeking bids when government contracts near their expiration.

Calvert also emphasized that she will be a consistent voice of opposition to any talk of raising taxes and fees, particularly as the county deals with declining tax receipts and cutbacks at the state and federal level. She was one of the organizers of opposition to a 2010 proposal to raise the county's sales tax by a penny to pay for light rail and expanded bus service.

"I do believe that might be coming back and I will fight it again," Calvert said.

In addition to her grassroots activism, Calvert serves on the commission's citizen advisory board.

Crist, 54, was elected in 2010 after serving in the state Senate and House. He is generally considered a moderate who advocates for restrained government spending while still supporting programs in areas such as the arts or social services.

Attempts to reach him Thursday were not successful.

"I think I bring a different point of view," Calvert said. "I think the people in this economic climate are open to different points of view.

Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or varian@tampabay.com.

Tea party activist challenges Victor Crist for Hillsborough County Commission seat 03/01/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 1, 2012 11:31pm]
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