Hillsborough County commisioner candidates Ken Hagan, Victor Crist and Ray Chiaramonte are among those hoping to advance beyond Tuesday’s primaries to the Nov. 6 election.

Two county commissioners with long-time ties to New Tampa — former resident Ken Hagan and current Tampa Palms resident Victor Crist — will be hoping to win their Primary Elections on Tuesday, August 28, in their efforts to effectively swap seats in the general election on Nov. 6.

Both have been term-limited out of their current positions.

Comm. Hagan, who is currently the District 5 commissioner, a countywide seat, is running in District 2, which represents all of New Tampa, as well as Lutz, Temple Terrace and Thonotosassa. Hagan held the Dist. 2 seat from 2002-10.

Comm. Crist, currently the Dist. 2 commissioner, is running for Hagan’s Dist. 5 seat.

Hagan, 50, has been one of the highest-profile commissioners in recent months, due to his role as the county’s lead negotiator in luring the Rays to Tampa to play in a proposed $892-million stadium in Ybor City.

For his primary race against first-time office seeker Chris Paradies, Hagan had raised a staggering $484,374 at our press time. Paradies, a Keystone resident who has been critical of Hagan’s position as a political lifer who attempts to avoid term limits by jumping seats in order to stay in office, had raised $27,523.

Ken Hagan

Hagan, who has often been viewed as a pro-development commissioner, has been active in seeking New Tampa’s support in his current campaign. He has co-hosted two local town hall meetings with Dist. 7 Tampa City Council member Luis Viera and has been active in trying to get new parks built or expanded in K-Bar Ranch and Branchton Park off Morris Bridge Rd.

Hagan also proposed adding $250,000 to the county budget last year to speed up a potential connection of Kinnan St. to Mansfield Blvd. in Meadow Pointe.

In June, FloridaPolitics.com named Hagan the ninth most powerful politician in Tampa Bay.

Democrat Angela Birdsong, like Hagan, a Carrollwood resident, has raised $21,674, and she awaits the winner of Hagan vs. Paradies. Birdsong has recently picked up her efforts in New Tampa, as she seeks to expand her profile.

Crist, 61, is running against Angel S. Urbina Capo in countywide Dist. 5.

A longtime local fixture, Crist has been a strong proponent of a New Tampa Cultural Center, which is expected to finally come to fruition — by 2020. He championed, as did Hagan when he served in Dist. 2, the idea of a New Tampa “town center,” which is now under development at the Hunter’s Lake project across from Hunter’s Green.

Comm. Crist had raised $121,300 at our press time, while Capo, a 47-year-old cybersecurity consultant, was at $6,768.

Crist talks to a group at Hunter’s Green Country Club last year about plans for a New Tampa Cultural Center.

Crist’s profile, connections and list of accomplishments in government dwarf Capo’s, and he is favored to win the primary. In Nov. 6, the winner will face Joe Kotvas, who is not affiliated with any party, and whoever emerges from the Democratic primary between Mariella Smith and Elvis Piggott.

Smith, a fourth-generation Tampa native currently living in Ruskin, is a 64-year-old small business owner and has been a longtime citizen advocate and community leader who could present a formidable challenge to Crist should she defeat Piggott, a 30-year-old church pastor who had been out-raised $73,978 to $20,315.

A crowded field is seeking the District 7 seat, which also is countywide.

Four Democrats – Ray Chiaramonte, Mark Nash, Kimberly Overman and Sky White — are running. All have either governmental or activist experience.

Nash has held the edge in fund-raising, pulling in $82,768, but Chiaramonte wasn’t far behind at $74,876, followed by Overman ($54,410) and White ($9,718.22).

Chiaramonte, who stopped in at the Neighborhood News office to talk county politics with editor Gary Nager, has been the executive director of the county’s Planning Commission, Metropolitan Planning Organization and most recently, the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA, from which he elected not to renew his contract last year).

He says that as a lifelong Hillsborough resident and regional transportation specialist, he is the candidate in the best position to help focus on the transportation issues throughout our area. Look for more of Gary’s interview with Chiaramonte in these pages if he wins the primary.

Republican Aakash Patel, however, has raised more than all of them combined. With a $381,594 war chest (that tops half a million dollars when you include money raised by his political committee, Elevate Tampa), Patel also has some big-time endorsements from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, State House Speaker Richard Corcoran, former Speaker Will Weatherford and Congressman Gus Bilirakis.

His opponent on August 28, attorney Todd Marks, had raised $138,866.

School Board primary elections also will be held, though not for New Tampa’s District 3 seat, currently held by Cindy Stuart. However, a countywide seat in District 6 (to replace April Griffin) is up for grabs, and a field of six candidates will contend for the spot on Primary Day.


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