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Temple Terrace seeks unity in districting

The city doesn’t want to be split up in Hillsborough County redistricting.
Chickens roam outside of their coop at TrailBale Farm located in Temple Terrace on Oct. 10, 2019.
Chickens roam outside of their coop at TrailBale Farm located in Temple Terrace on Oct. 10, 2019. [ OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Oct. 7

Temple Terrace has a request for the Hillsborough County commissioners: Don’t split us up in remapping the commissioners’ districts.

They’d also like to be in the same commission district as the University of South Florida; where many Temple Terrace residents work, but their chances of getting both appear slim.

If the city gets its way on either point, however, it could also have a political effect on Republican Commissioner Ken Hagan’s District 2, making it more friendly for a Democratic challenger.

Mayor Andy Ross told the Temple Terrace City Council this week the city needs a unified voice in county elections and should all be in one commissioner’s district, preferably the north Hillsborough District 2.

At present, Temple Terrace is split between District 2 and Commissioner Gwen Myers’ central Tampa District 3, a minority access district.

Ross said the city “is more aligned” with District 2′s east and north Hillsborough suburban areas including New Tampa, Thonotosassa, Seffner, Lutz, and Carrollwood than with the District 3 “urban core” communities.

A redistricting map proposed by Myers puts most of Temple Terrace in District 3.

In that district, “Our voice stands the chance of getting lost,” Ross told the council.

They authorized a letter to the commissioners favoring a map proposed by Commissioner Harry Cohen, which puts most of Temple Terrace into District 2 except for what Ross called “a small sliver,” and asked for that sliver to be added back.

That map also removes much of GOP-voting Thonotosassa from Hagan’s district.

Democrat Angela Birdsong, who made a surprisingly strong showing against Hagan in 2018, losing by less than 5 points, has said she would like to try again if the district becomes more favorable for a Democrat.

Hagan, who’s up for re-election in 2022, is now one of two Republicans on the seven-member Board of Commissioners.