Ask the Locals: Kevin Beckner

A trailblazing politician who's still making things better for Hillsborough.

click to enlarge Ask the Locals: Kevin Beckner
Chip Weiner

Kevin Beckner made history in 2008 when, in his first race for public office, he upset the incumbent to become the first openly gay member of the Hillsborough County Commission.

During his eight years on the commission, he continued to fight for LGBTQ equality, leading the way toward reversal of a county ban on pride events; lobbying for creation of a countywide domestic partner registry; and spearheading expansion of the county human rights ordinance and Diversity Advisory Council to be inclusive of the LGBTQ community. He also made good on his promises to champion fiscal responsibility, sustainable growth and government transparency.

A former police officer, Beckner moved to Tampa in 1998 after spending several years working as a financial planner outside of Chicago. He is now director of the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board, providing HR and employee services to 21 independent county agencies with nearly 10,000 combined employees.

He’s struck by the evolution of the LGBT community over the years. But, he adds, “we can’t take for granted the progress we’ve made. Elections do matter.”

Beckner, 47, lives in Citrus Park with his husband, retired Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Gil Sainz. The couple has been together for 19 years and married for 13.

Favorite Sunday excursion: “Wat Mongkolratanaram Thai Temple. They have quality Thai food at a reasonable price and the outdoor atmosphere makes for a perfect place for a couple or family to get away.”

Favorite Asian staple: “Yummy House. The fresh rolls with peanut sauce and a big bowl of wonton soup absolutely hit the spot.”

Favorite guilt-free eating: “Seasons 52. All of their dishes are supposed to be under 500 calories and the menu constantly changes to reflect what’s in season.”

Favorite little-known obsession: “Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay. My spouse and I are big theme park people. We have annual passes to Busch Gardens.”

Favorite place to Zen out: “Lettuce Lake Park. It’s one of the area’s hidden treasures, right on the river.” 

Favorite local celebration: “Tampa Pride. I love it for the simple fact that it’s a gathering of eclectic people taking pride in who they are.” [Beckner was Grand Marshal of Tampa Pride 2017.]

Favorite meat market: “Land & Sea Market. You can get everything from whole lobsters to fresh grouper.”

Favorite performance venue: “Straz Center for the Performing Arts. We go to the Broadway matinees on Saturday afternoons.”

Favorite suit makers: “Tom James of Tampa. They come to your office or home to measure you. Everything they make is custom-tailored to fit your body.”

Favorite break from the norm: “Drag Queen Bingo at Hamburger Mary’s. It’s absolutely hysterical and the hamburgers are pretty decent, too.” 

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