The Hillsborough County Regional Transit Authority (HART) lost some institutional knowledge today when the Board of County Commissioners opted not to extend the tenure of Dr. Steven Polzin, who has served on the board for six and a half years.
Polzin was one of three current HART board members whose term was up at the end of this month. The other two board members in that situation, Karen Jaroch and Wallace, were voted to new three-year terms, along with Tampa architect Mickey Jacob. There were 17 applicants in all.
Polzin is not your average HART board member. Currently the Transit Research Program Director for the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) located on the USF Tampa campus, he has served in transit agencies in Dallas and Cleveland prior to coming to Tampa. His reign on the HART board was one of the longest as well, having been named to serve back in February of 2008.
Mickey Jacob is the Executive Vice President at BDG Architects based in Tampa. For 24 years he was the Managing Principle with Urban Studio Architects, also in Tampa.
Jacob is the second new member chosen by the County to serve as one of their representatives this year on the 13-member board. The state of Florida has two picks (Josh Burgin and John Melendez), the city of Tampa has three selections (Fran Davin, Bryan Crino and current Chair Mike Suarez), Temple Terrace has one member (Councilman Eddie Vance) and the County has six members, four of them County Commissioners (Mark Sharpe, Sandy Murman, Kevin Beckner and Les Miller).
County Administrator Mike Merrill declared earlier this year that the group formed to review transportation options in the county over the past two years — the Transportation Economic Development group — should essentially take over as the new HART board. But that provoked a strong backlash, particularly amongst current HART board members. Realizing that the plans starting to be put in motion for a potential transit referendum in 2016 could create a significant distraction, Merrill backed down from that plan a few months ago.
But in between that time, there was the thought that he and the BOCC could slowly take over control of the board by replacing their at-large community members whose terms were ending with board members. That appeared to be the case when another Hillsborough HART board member chosen from the community, Anne Madden, stepped down a few months ago. Instead of selecting a community member, HART chose to replace her with Commissioner Les Miller.