Former Army officer Lisette Bonano has filed to run against state Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, in north-central Hillsborough District 63.
Bonano, 62, of New Tampa, a newcomer to politics, is the mother of two grown children and comes from a strongly military-oriented family. She lived much of her life in Germany, where her Army officer father was stationed.
She said “the call of God” was a large part of her reason for running for office.
She faces a tough challenge. Driskell unseated incumbent Republican Shawn Harrison in 2018 by 7 points in the north-central Hillsborough District 63 and ran unopposed in 2020.
“I don’t feel I’m an underdog,” Bonano said. “They said David was an underdog against Goliath.”
She said she’s running to oppose “the forced mandates, government overreach” and support “parental choice” in anti-Covid measures. She compared mask requirements and vaccination mandates to dictatorships in other countries.
Bonano, who uses the title “Dr.,” has a Ph.D. in education leadership from Argosy University, a for-profit school that closed in 2019 after facing federal sanctions. She said she has also studied at two local religious schools, including the River Bible Institute, affiliated with The River at Tampa Bay Church. Its pastor, Rodney Browne, became known in 2020 for defying anti-Covid regulations and calling the disease a “phantom plague.”
In the Army and as a military contractor, Bonano worked in human resources and civil affairs in Washington, at MacDill Air Force base and overseas, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. She moved back to Tampa in 2010 after retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
She was recently earned news coverage for efforts to help Afghans who worked with U.S. forces escape the country.
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