Tom Scott confirms he'll run again for Hillsborough County Commission



Tom Scott
  • Tom Scott
The next elections for Hillsborough County Commission aren't for nearly two years, but Democrats are lining up to run in the countywide District 7 seat currently held by Republican Mark Sharpe.

In late September, former County Commissioner and Tampa City Councilman Thomas Scott mused to Tampa Bay Times columnist Sue Carlton that he was contemplating a run in 2014 for Sharpe's seat.

Perhaps coincidentally (though Scott thinks otherwise), his former Council colleague, Mary Mulhern, announced a day later that she was definitely in the race for the District 7 seat.

In a conversation with CL on Monday morning, Scott confirmed that he is indeed looking quite strongly at running for Sharpe's seat, but won't make an official announcement until 2013.

When asked about the challenge of competing in a Democratic primary against not only Mulhern but also School Board member April Griffin, Scott said "they don't have the name recognition I have countywide," a reason why he said he doesn't have to join the race as quickly as those candidates.

Griffin has been strongly rumored to join the race, but has yet to make it official (UPDATE:CL contacted Griffin on Monday, who confirmed she will also announce her candidacy early next year. We'll have another post on that up soon). Unlike Mulhern, Griffin has run (and won) countywide.

Scott has been unsuccessful in two countywide runs in his political career. He lost to Sharpe for the district 7 seat in 2006 as the Democrat on the ballot, and he lost in August in the Democratic primary for Supervisor of Elections to Craig Latimer — a race Scott said he should have won. Latimer beat Scott 53-47 percent, winning by slightly less than 2,400 votes.

Scott attributed his loss in part to the fact that he wasn't competitive in fundraising, as well as low voter turnout in the black community. He admitted that he didn't help his cause by entering the contest relatively late — he made his announcement in late March, just a little more than four months from the primary election date.

He said if and when he does enter the race, he'll talk up many of the issues that he campaigned for during his run for mayor of Tampa in early 2011, especially when it comes to transportation.

Talk of light rail has been silent in Hillsborough County in the two years since voters rejected the penny sales tax referendum that would have funded the construction of such a system. Local officials have talked about getting a local member of the state's legislative group to sponsor a bill that would allow municipalities, not just counties, to call for tax referendums.

Scott noted that even if the Legislature would approve such a plan (somewhat dubious), the funding coming just from Tampa would be insufficient.

"That's not enough revenue. You really the need the county to do it," he said.

Scott served on the Hillsborough County Commission from 1996-2006. He served on the Tampa City Council from 2007-2011.

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