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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. No debate in Hillsborough commission race; candidates blame each other


    TAMPA — Why is it so difficult to get Democrat Pat Kemp and Republican Tim Schock on a debate stage together?

    The Hillsborough County District 6 candidates have yet to face off in any one-on-one forums since they were named their parties' nominees Aug. 30. And it doesn't appear they will before the Nov. 8 election.

    Schock said Kemp is avoiding him. Kemp said Shock missed his chance....

    Pat Kemp, Democratic candidate for Hillsborough County commissioner, said her opponent Tim Schock missed his chance to debate her. [Courtesy Pat Kemp]
  2. We invited both Hillsborough County District 6 commission candidates to debate. One declined.


    TAMPA — It has been tougher than expected to get the candidates for Hillsborough County’s open District 6 commission seat to get together for a debate or one-on-one forum.

    The Bay Buzz learned that first hand this week.

    We asked both Democrat Pat Kemp and Republican Tim Schock on Oct. 13, if they would sit down for a Facebook Live debate at our Tampa office. The plan was for our Hillsborough County reporter (the author of this post) to ask them both questions about issues facing Hillsborough and each would have an opportunity to respond to the questions and each other. Our large Facebook audience of 210,000 followers could watch the conversation live or catch an archived version at their convenience....

    Democratic candidate for Hillsborough County District 6 commissioner Pat Kemp
  3. Activists angry about lack of transit projects in Hillsborough transportation plan


    TAMPA — Transit advocates are expected to speak out today when Hillsborough County commissioners discuss how to spend $600 million set aside for transportation projects.

    Their problem with the plan? There's no money in it for public transportation, including buses, rail or ferries.

    Instead, the proposed project list is focused on safety improvements at intersections and schools, road resurfacing and new and wider roads to relieve congestion in unincorporated Hillsborough....

    There’s no money in the $600 million plan for public transportation, including buses, rail or ferries. [DANIEL WALLACE | Times]
  4. Do you correctly recycle? Hillsborough County wants to know


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County wants to teach people to stop mixing trash with the recyclables.

    It makes recycling more expensives, exposes workers to health risks and damages equipment.

    So to figure out how people mistakenly misuse their blue bins, Hillsborough County is calling for residents to fill out a brief survey about their recycling habits....

    Hillsborough County is asking residents to explain their recycling habits in an effort to curb contamination.
  5. More transit needed in Hillsborough County transportation plan, Commissioner Murman says


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman wants more money to go toward transit projects when commissioners decide this week how to spend the $600 million they set aside for transportation.

    The proposal on the table would mostly direct the money to repave streets, improve safety at intersections and near schools, and alleviate congestion by widening and adding roads in unincorporated Hillsborough County....

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman said the county should look to expand transit options, like buses, with its new transportation fund.
  6. Hillsborough commission candidates want say in $600 million transportation spending plan


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners are expected to decide next week how to spend the $600 million they set aside for transportation projects over the next 10 years.

    "It's time to get started," Commissioner Al Higginbotham said.

    But not everyone is happy.

    The two candidates running for the open District 6 commission seat think their potential colleagues should wait until after the election before finalizing a blueprint....

    Pat Kemp is incensed that the plan omits new transit.
  7. Hillsborough candidate Schock fires manager who used gay slur, attacked veteran in Facebook spat


    TAMPA — Republican Hills­borough County Commission candidate Tim Schock fired his campaign manager Wednesday after learning that in a recent political argument on Facebook, the manager used a homosexual slur and told a military veteran he didn't respect his service.

    The campaign manager, Daniel Davis, also told a firefighter to "go die in a fire" and insinuated that a man's 1-year-old daughter would have to "whore herself out to get through college" because her father was poor....

    Daniel Davis made the comments during a spat on Facebook.
  8. Hillsborough County Commissioner District 6


    Democrat Pat Kemp and Republican Tim Schock both lost races for Hillsborough County Commission in 2014. One of them will be successful on Nov. 8. Kemp has been active in local politics for years as an aide to two former county commissioners and former Democratic party chairwoman. She won a four-way primary in August. Schock thwarted Jim Norman's attempt at political comeback in his Republican primary. The Tampa businessman has never held local office either. ...

    Pat Kemp
  9. Hillsborough Clerk of Court


    Democratic incumbent Pat Frank faced her first primary challenge since she was elected clerk in 2004 and she handily defeated County Commissioner Kevin Beckner. In her bid for a fourth term as clerk, the long-time politician will face Republican Eric Seidel, a first-time candidate and lawyer best known as the former consumer reporter for WTVT-Ch. 13.

    About the job: The Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court is tasked with administrating the court system, keeping Board of County Commission records, auditing the county and maintaining the county's finances. The position pays $159,980....

    Eric Seidel
  10. PolitiFact: Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton lauded controversial TPP deal


    The statement

    Says Hillary Clinton called the Trans-Pacific Partnership "the gold standard. You called it the gold standard of trade deals. You said it's the finest deal you've ever seen."

    Donald Trump, in the Sept. 26 presidential debate

    The ruling

    Trump has criticized both the North American Free Trade Agreement approved under President Bill Clinton and the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated by President Barack Obama's administration....

    COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA - SEPTEMBER 28:  Donald Trump walks on stage at a rally on September 28, 2016 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Trump has been campaigning today in Iowa, Wisconsin and Chicago.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) 673093561
  11. TBX plan to collect toll on Howard Frankland Bridge concerns Hillsborough commission candidates


    TAMPA — Renewed angst over a planned highway and toll expansion in the Tampa Bay region has rippled into the race for Hillsborough County's open commission seat.

    Democrat Pat Kemp and Republican Tim Schock both said they were troubled by a Tampa Bay Times report last week that revealed the Florida Department of Transportation plans to turn one of four lanes in each direction on the Howard Frankland Bridge into a toll lane as part of the $6 billion highway expansion known as Tampa Bay Express....

    Democrat Pat Kemp has spoken out against the Tampa Bay Express project.
  12. Pat Frank pushes back against PTC criticism of clerk's office


    Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court Pat Frank shot back Wednesday at claims that her office has mishandled Public Transportation Commission funds.

    The PTC gave its executive director, Kyle Cockream, authority to look into whether it could find a better steward of its dollars in the private sector. Cockream has said that the clerk's office has had problems managing PTC money for several years....

  13. One mosquito. Two mosquito. Three mosquito. Four. How they count the bloodsuckers in Hillsborough (w/video)

    Human Interest

    RUSKIN — Start the clock. One minute.

    Joseph Shiver sticks out his arms, palms up. First comes the sweat. Then the mosquitoes.

    And he counts them.



    Shiver doesn't flinch when they bite. Doesn't swat them from his face. Doesn't wait for them to land, then SPLAT!

    He just counts.

    Three. Four. Five. Six.

    • • •

    Shiver, a senior crew leader with Hillsborough County, is on the front lines of this area's mosquito wars. Though it may seem decidedly low-tech for a battle waged largely with complex chemicals, counting mosquitoes on the meaty arms of an ex-butcher is a key way to survey the enemy....

    Joseph Shiver, a Hillsborough County Mosquito Control employee, shows how workers estimate the number of mos?quitoes at E.G. Simmons Regional Park in Ruskin. The count determines whether chemicals are sprayed in the area.
  14. After six years, Hillsborough County actually does something about transportation


    TAMPA — After a failed referendum in 2010 and two failed attempts to hold another in 2016, the six-year debate about how to pay for Hillsborough County's transportation needs reached a milestone achievement Thursday: Something actually passed.

    County commissioners unanimously voted to dedicate $600 million over the next 10 years to fixing roads, bridges, sidewalks and intersections....

    Traffic on Interstate 275 in downtown Tampa slows to a crawl in January. Commissioners voted to dedicate $600?million over the next 10 years to fixing roads, bridges, sidewalks and intersections.
  15. Hillsborough County approves $600 million for transportation over the next decade


    TAMPA -- Hillsborough County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to dedicate $600 million to transportation spending over the next decade.

    The proposal, a last minute compromise pushed by Commissioner Al Higginbotham, requires commissioners to put $35 million in transportation next year, and increase the allotment by $5 million every year for the next 10 years.

    Commissioners chose Higginbotham’s plan over another proposal from Commissioner Sandy Murman that would have raised an estimated $820 million over the next decade. Her plan would’ve set aside one-third of growth in property tax revenue for road work and other projects....

    Hillsborough County commissioners approved on Thursday allocating $600 million to transportation over the next decade.