The Hillsborough County Commission faces several big challenges in the coming years, from crafting a long-range transportation plan to growing new industries in emerging fields such as biomedicine and national security. The commission also will face increased pressure for urban services in the fast-growing suburbs.
District 1 (south, west county)
Both candidates in this race are committed to public service and offer solid priorities. But incumbent Sandy Murman has a wider agenda and the experience to be more effective. She deserves another term.
Murman, 66, is a former state legislator who was elected to the south County Commission seat in 2010. Over her tenure in elected office, the Republican has been a strong advocate for programs serving women, children and the disabled. She is tireless and does her homework, and she has a solid grasp of a wide range of issues. Murman has held back from supporting a robust transportation plan, and she has not focused enough at times on urban concerns. But she is a sensible commissioner and a problem-solver, and the issues she champions — health care, job development, veterans' services — are fitting for both this district and the large, growing county.
Jeff Zampitella, 47, is a commercial airline pilot and first-time candidate. The Democrat has been active in downtown Tampa, and he has a solid grasp of the issues, particularly urban development and transportation. Zampitella has fresh ideas for making the neighborhoods more livable, and he has valid concerns about the state's interstate expansion plan through downtown Tampa. His energy and people skills would also be a good fit for public office.
Murman's agenda is sound and balanced. She sees more of a regional approach in dealing with jobs, transportation, water and other issues. Murman also is a consensus-builder who has long been accessible to constituents. She knows how to promote the county's interests in Tallahassee, and her experience at the state level gives the commission more depth. Her practical nature and history of reaching out makes her an appealing choice for both Republicans and Democrats.
The district extends from northwest Hillsborough to south Tampa, Apollo Beach and Ruskin. For Hillsborough County Commission District 1, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Sandy Murman.
District 6 (countywide)
Pat Kemp has worked for years to improve transportation, the region's top problem, and her sound approach and sense of urgency make her by far the best choice for this countywide seat. She has the rare blend of policy smarts and political skills to make a real and lasting contribution.
Kemp, 59, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, is a strong proponent of new mass transit options, recognizing that the region's reliance on roads is not efficient or sustainable. The Democrat understands the connection between improved mobility and economic growth. Kemp would encourage more development in urban areas. She grasps the threat that climate change poses to this coastal region's economy and quality of life. Kemp also supports better-targeted job development incentives. She is a big thinker who appreciates the importance of local control and of acting regionally.
Tim Schock, 43, is a transportation consultant who promotes a small-business agenda. The Republican says the county needs to better manage sprawl and to tailor any tax incentives toward industries that build careers, not just jobs that could lead to nowhere. He opposes light rail but is open to regional rail, saying the county might be able to take advantage of existing rail lines. Schock is bright and thoughtful, and as a return commission candidate, he shows a genuine concern for the county's future. But his narrower vision for mass transit is out of step with the times, and it would make it harder for the region to reach its potential.
Kemp understands transit like few candidates have in the past decade, and she has the political skills to build and sell a forward-looking transportation package. An attorney, she has long been a strong supporter of public input and open government, and her years as a legislative aide at the county and federal levels give her a full appreciation of constituent service. Though she has never held public office, Kemp has demonstrated her commitment to civic life through her work on neighborhood causes. She would be an ethical, responsible and responsive commissioner. Her long history in Hillsborough is also a plus. She is sensitive to the diversity of lifestyles, businesses and people — a good quality for anyone holding a countywide commission seat.
For Hillsborough County Commission District 6, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Pat Kemp.