Thirteen months out from the 2018 midterm elections, the candidate roster for the Hillsborough County Commission is getting stacked.
The latest to join it is business consultant Mark Nash, a Democrat on his third run for the commission.
This time, he's running for the countywide District 5 seat.
His first time around, 2012, he lost to Commissioner Al Higginbotham. In 2014, he lost to now-Commissioner Pat Kemp in a Democratic primary (that year, Kemp went on to lose to Commissioner Al Higginbotham, but was ultimately elected in 2016).
The apparent impetus for him this time around?
Some commissioners' behavior during this past summer's Confederate monument debate; how, unlike the four commissioners who supported keeping the monument in place despite widespread outrage, he's "not afraid to take on the challenges we face.” To him, unwillingness to act on such a small, symbolic manner is a sign of a bigger issue.
“This isn’t just about a statue that revives the racist hatred of the past, it’s part of a larger problem," he said in a written statement. "Our Commission is paralyzed by political games and fear,” Nash said. “From job creation and transportation to infrastructure and services, we can’t trust them to tackle minor matters let alone the major issues facing our region. I won’t get distracted by the same politics as usual.”
He said there's an economic argument for doing so, and that basing decisions on what the extremely far right — which includes the likes of Nazis, for chrissakes — wants will keep good employers (and employees) from coming to the area.
“Employers want to come to a place that’s open to all their employees. Despite the Commission, our leaders have worked to create a great place to grow a business and create jobs, this decision trampled all over that work and set us back,” Nash said. “Hillsborough needs more collaborators who will do what’s right for the county instead of appeasing the radical fringe of their political party. I don’t shy away from tough choices, I think those moments define us.”
Though he lost to Kemp, he commended her outspokenness throughout the debate, which Commissioner Les Miller initiated.
“I want to thank Commissioner Miller and Commissioner Kemp for standing up to hatred and the politics of division. I also want to thank all the individuals and groups who showed that we can do good for our community when we work together,” Nash added. “The Tampa Chamber knew that those Commissioners hurt our community.”
Nash is far from the only candidate in the running for the seat, which Commissioner Ken Hagan is vacating.
Commissioner Victor Crist, a Republican, is terming out of his current seat and has filed to run for District 5. Even if Democrats are critical of his pro-Confederate monument position (he supported putting public art that touted the county's diversity next to the monument), he'll have more than enough money as well as name recognition to help him. Crist will probably survive the three-person Republican primary. The two other candidates in the GOP primary are Timothy Lynn Curtis and Angela S. Urbina Capo.
The Democratic primary roster also has two other contenders: Jamela Passmore and Elvis Jemine Piggott.