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Hillsborough Commissioner Crist will face Democrat Smith

The pair would will contest a critical seat that could determine which party takes control of the Hillsborough County Commission.

TAMPA — Republican Commissioner Victor Crist and first-time Democratic candidate Mariella Smith will square off in November for the District 5 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission.

Crist, a commissioner since 2010, overwhelmingly beat challenger Angel S. Urbina  in the Republican primary.

And Smith, a local business woman, easily beat fellow Democrat Elvis Piggott, an East Tampa pastor.

Their contest could help determine the political makeup of the commission. Democrats have targeted this seat along with the open District 7 seat as they seek to overturn the GOP's long-held majority on the commission.

Crist raised $129,000 in his bid to beat Urbina, a cyber security specialist making his first run for office. Urbina raised just over $7,000.

During the campaign, Crist touted his conservative values and  pledged to make county government more efficient. He has yet to take a position on a one penny sales tax initiative that a citizens group got on the Nov. 6 ballot to pay for road, bus and other transit.

Urbina billed himself as a candidate of the people and campaigned on a platform of low taxes and small government.

Smith has run InSight Graphic Design since 1988. She earned the endorsements of many local Democratic leaders, including Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa and commissioners Les Miller and Pat Kemp.

She raised more than $81,000 for her race compared to Piggott's $20,000.

She said Democrats hope to win both this seat and District 5.

"I think people are excited about taking our county back from special interests and cronies and developers who have been running it for so long," she said. "People are ready for change and they're ready to work for change at all levels of government."

The general election will also include independent candidate Joe Kotvas, a former commissioner who was convicted following a 1983 bribery scandal.

For statewide election coverage check out The Buzz

For local election coverage check out the Bay Buzz

For school board election coverage check out The Gradebook.

Contact Christopher O'Donnell at codonnell@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times

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