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Candidates gear up for commission campaign

The Republican race to represent north Hillsborough County on the County Commission became a three-way competition this week.

Tom Jones, president of the Carrollwood Area Association of Neighborhoods, filed to challenge Commissioner Ken Hagan for his District 2 seat. Hagan filed Jan. 14 to seek re-election. Rod Gaudin, a Lutz restaurateur who lost to Hagan in 2002, entered the race on Nov. 10.

Jones, a former Army colonel, is community manager for the Plantation of Carrollwood, a neighborhood of 1,832 homes off Gunn Highway. In the Association of Neighborhoods, he coordinates the interests of 40 neighborhood associations containing 20,000 homes.

"This year, I just feel that neighborhood voices need to be heard in the county, and I'm the guy to do it," Jones said.

Jones' candidacy will force Carrollwood Republicans to choose between a top neighborhood leader, Jones, and a native son, Hagan. In 2002, Carrollwood provided Hagan his strongest base of support. Neighborhood services was one of Hagan's top campaign themes.

"He might talk about it, but I've been there," Jones, 65, said after filing Monday. "Where has he been?"

In response, Hagan cited five neighborhood meetings he recently attended. Hagan, 36, said he and his staff have knocked on more than 3,000 doors in his district in the past six months.

"One thing we've heard from people going door-to-door," Hagan said, "is that civic associations and homeowner associations do not necessarily represent the average resident."

County commissioners typically serve four-year terms.

But Commissioners Hagan and Ronda Storms, who represents southeast Hillsborough, were elected in 2002 to serve only two years so the county's four district-based seats would have staggered terms. All the district commissioners were required to run that year because the district lines had been redrawn to accommodate population changes.

Gaudin, 58, was one of four candidates defeated by Hagan in 2002. Running without party affiliation, the owner of Hot Rod's BBQ & Grill faced Hagan and Democrat Ron Dyser in the general election. Gaudin received 7 percent of the vote. This year, Gaudin is running as a Republican.

_ Bill Coats can be reached at (813) 269-5309 or coatssptimes.com.

Rod Gaudin, who was defeated in 2002, is the owner of Hot Rod's BBQ & Grill in Lutz.

District 2 Commissioner Ken Hagan, who won his seat in 2002, is seeking re-election.

Former Army Col. Tom Jones, is manager for a community neighborhood.

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