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Steve Contorno, Times Staff Writer

Steve Contorno

Steve Contorno is a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times covering Hillsborough County. He previously worked for PolitiFact in the Times Washington, D.C. bureau. Prior to joining the Times, he covered Congress and Virginia politics for the Washington Examiner as well as state and local governments in Wisconsin for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. A native of the Chicago suburbs, Steve graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor's degree in news-editorial journalism and a minor in political science, and holds a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield, where he covered the Illinois legislature for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Phone: (813) 226-3433


The Contorno file:

Twitter: @scontorno

  1. Republican Schock relying on support from outside Hillsborough in county commission race


    TAMPA — On the surface, it seems Republican Tim Schock is hitting his stride at the right time in his bid for Hillsborough County's open commission seat.

    Shock has nearly closed an early fundraising lead by his opponent, former state Senator Jim Norman, who boasted a six-figure haul in the campaign's first two months. Schock won two recent straw polls over Norman conducted by Hillsborough business groups, and his fliers are hitting the mailboxes of thousands of voters just as they head to ballot box on Tuesday....

    Tim Schock is seeking the Republican nomination for the District 6 Hillsborugh County Commission seat. [Courtesy of Tim Schock]
  2. Donald Trump sticks to hard line on immigration at Tampa rally


    TAMPA — Donald Trump may have hinted recently that he intends to soften his tough immigration stances, but he sure didn't sound that way speaking to several thousand supporters in Tampa on Wednesday.

    "Hillary Clinton wants a totally open border. We are going to enforce our laws, remove people who overstay their visas," he promised a boisterous crowd at the Florida State Fairgrounds. "Hillary Clinton would rather give a job to an illegal immigrant than to an unemployed Hispanic citizen, an unemployed African-American citizen, or even to a veteran."...

    It didn’t take much prodding from the fired-up crowd in Tampa for Donald Trump to veer from his prepared speech Wednesday and talk about Mexico and building a wall.
  3. Democratic primary for Hillsborough clerk is unusually expensive and negative


    TAMPA — It's one of Hillsborough County's most expensive Democratic primary races in recent memory, and one of the nastiest, too, full of bad blood and plenty of mudslinging.

    And for which coveted seat of power?

    Clerk of the Circuit Court.

    Most people probably couldn't name a single function of the clerk's office unless they happened to receive a jury summons that week or recently picked up a marriage license....

    Pat Frank has been the target of negative ads by Beckner.
  4. In comeback bid, Jim Norman spends on food, stamps and political allies


    TAMPA — No one has spent more than Jim Norman in the race for Hillsborough County's open commission seat.

    No one has spent quite like him, either.

    There are the frequent lunches and dinners at places like KFC, Beef O'Brady's and O'Brien's Irish Pub totalling $3,200. None of the other five candidates have expensed close to that much food. Some haven't expensed any.

    He has spent $14,450 on stamps. Most campaigns use bulk mail....

    Mug of Jim Norman shot Aug. 31, 2015. Former state legislator and county commissioner Jim Norman said he will file the paperwork to run for Hillsborough County Commission on Tuesday, Sept. 1. Norman said his past dealings with a house bankrolled by a political benefactor are behind him and he is ready to move forward.
  5. Amid flurry of attacks between Democrats, Republican in Hillsborough clerk race pledges positive campaign


    TAMPA — Republican Eric Seidel has a question for the two Democrats running in the Hillsborough County Clerks of the Court:

    Can’t we just all get along?

    Seidel, who will face the winner of the primary between incumbent Clerk Pat Frank and County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, signed a pledge Thursday vowing to run a positive campaign free of mudslinging and personal attacks. And he wants Frank and Beckner to sign it as well....

    Republican Eric Seidel holds a press conference at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park on Thursday where he vowed to run a positive, attack-free campaign
  6. $12.9 million youth sports complex moves ahead in Hillsborough County


    TAMPA — For more than a decade, plans to build a massive sports complex in east Hillsborough County capable of luring large youth athletic tournaments and the millions of tourism dollars that come with them have slowly inched along.

    On Wednesday, Hillsborough County commissioners gave the project a big push forward, selecting the companies that will be tasked with building and designing the fields and facilities....

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan says he will hold the design team’s “feet to the fire” to fulfill plans for a championship field with shaded seating.  [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times] 
  7. After police shootings and police targeting across country, Hillsborough to host meetings for officers and minority groups

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — As a black man who grew up in the South and the father of a police officer, Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller can empathize with African-Americans outraged over police shootings in their community and with police who feel targeted while trying to protect.

    Miller said he wants both sides to understand each other better before Tampa becomes the next Milwaukee or Ferguson, Mo., Dallas or Baton Rouge, La....

    Com?miss?ion?er Les Miller hopes better understanding can be forged.
  8. Hillsborough Clerk of Court, Pat Frank v. Kevin Beckner


    Hillsborough Clerk of Court | Democrats

    Two of Hillsborough County's best-known Democrats are embroiled in a heated and at times nasty primary for Clerk of the Circuit Court, a largely administrative constitutional office. Incumbent Pat Frank and Commissioner Kevin Beckner are at odds over how the latter, a rising star, came to challenge the former, a legendary politician, and they're not on speaking terms. The winner will face former TV news reporter Eric Seidel, a Republican. ...

    Pat Frank: Awarded the Florida Excellence Best Practices Award
  9. Hillsborough County Commission District 6, Republicans, Jim Norman v. Tim Schock


    Hillsborough County Commission District 6, Republicans

    Jim Norman is seeking a political comeback after retreating from a state Senate re-election campaign amid an ethics scandal in 2012. The longtime commissioner is back running for county office and he'll face local businessman Tim Schock, who lost a Republican primary race for commissioner in 2014. The winner will face whoever comes out ahead in a four-way race among Democrats. ...

    Mug of Jim Norman shot Aug. 31, 2015. Former state legislator and county commissioner Jim Norman said he will file the paperwork to run for Hillsborough County Commission on Tuesday, Sept. 1. Norman said his past dealings with a house bankrolled by a political benefactor are behind him and he is ready to move forward.
  10. Hillsborough County Commission District 6, Democrats, John Dicks v. Patricia "Pat" Kemp v. Thomas Scott v. Brian Willis


    Hillsborough County Commission District 6, Democrats

    Four Democrats, including several familiar faces, are vying to replace Kevin Beckner, Hillsborough County's first openly gay commissioner, and his unparalleled record of advancing LGBT rights. This is a seat Democrats can't afford to lose as Republicans already hold a 5-2 majority and the winner will certainly have a tough general election fight. Each Democratic candidate has a dedicated constituency, but this is a countywide election where liberals are often split on issues. ...

    EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN   |   Times (02/02/2011 Tampa) Tampa mayoral candidate Thomas Scott sits for a portrait in the Times' studio on February 2, 2011 in Tampa. [EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN, Times]
  11. Confederate activist nearly named to Hillsborough County's diversity panel


    TAMPA — A well-known local activist for Confederate causes nearly won a spot Wednesday on a citizen council to promote diversity in Hillsborough County.

    David McAllister, leader of the Tampa chapter of Sons of Confederate Veterans, came one vote short of the requisite four needed to join the county’s Diversity Advisory Council. McAllister applied for an at-large seat and was the preferred choice of three Republican commissioners: Victor Crist, Stacy White and Ken Hagan....

    Confederate activist David McAllister, seen here on the left breaking ground for a Civil War memorial, applied to be on the Hillsborough County diversity advisory council.
  12. Hoping to prevent Ferguson or Dallas here, Hillsborough will hold community-police workshops


    TAMPA -- Amid a national outcry against police shootings of black men and the targeted killings of police officers in cities like Dallas, Hillsborough County wants to take steps to prevent a similar incident here.

    At the urging of Commissioner Les Miller, the county’s lone black commissioner who is also the father of a police officer, Hillsborough County will hold workshops for the community and law enforcement to better understand each other....

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller successfully pushed his colleagues to approve workshops for police and the community to continue improving race relations.
  13. Early voting begins ahead of pace from past elections in Hillsborough County


    TAMPA — At the Jan Kaminis Platt Library in South Tampa on Monday, two types of people were taking advantage of the first day of early voting in Hillsborough County.

    There were those like the Nelsons of Sunset Park, who approached the polling site with determination, clutching a sample ballot, their preferred candidates already circled.

    "We always vote the first day of early voting," said John Nelson, 77, with his wife, Linda, 76. "We make up our minds early."...

    Mary Bailey, left, guides her husband, Rudolph, into the West Tampa Library on Union Street to cast their primary election ballots as early voting gets under way Monday in Hillsborough.
  14. Hillsborough fire chief talks turning around the department and making time for choir practice


    In April 2015, Hillsborough County lured former Tampa fire Chief Dennis Jones out of retirement to take over its embattled Fire Rescue Department. At the time, Hillsborough's department faced budget overruns and a controversy over union pay, among other issues, and Jones was brought in to right the ship. Jones, 59, recently sat down with Tampa Bay Times staff writer Steve Contorno to talk about the changes he's made and what it's like to come back five years after retiring from the city....

    Fire Rescue Chief Dennis Jones came out of retirement last year. His top priority was to balance the budget.
  15. Republican Carlos Beruff in Tampa says he won't run again if he loses U.S. Senate bid


    TAMPA — Republican Carlos Beruff said Friday he has no interest in running for U.S. Senate again if his longshot bid this year is unsuccessful.

    Speaking in Tampa, Beruff said he got into the race because he wanted to make a difference but would go back to working in the private sector as a developer if he lost.

    “I live a good life. I will go back to my good life,” Beruff said. “I will try as hard as I can to be a Senator but I have no interest in being a politician for the rest of my life.”...

    Republican Senate candidate Carlos Beruff holds a Town Hall on Friday at the Tahitian Inn in Tampa.