Hillsborough Commissioners discuss changing makeup of board

Commissioner Miller proposed to change the current four single district and three county wide commissioner structure to five single district commissioners and two wide county commissioners. This reconfiguration of the county board he argued has become necessary because of the rapid population growth that Hillsborough County has experienced in the last three decades, going from less than 735,000 to more than 1.2 million people. "We have seen a 54% growth in the last thirty years" said the commissioner. Commissioner Miller also pointed out that other counties with similar populations or even smaller populations have a larger number of single districts representatives because it allows for better communication between the elected members and their constituencies.

Commissioner Miller also pointed out the lack of representation of Hispanic communities and population who reside in Hillsborough County since currently they have no representative on the board. "The Hispanic population does not have the opportunity to elect a representative to the County Commissioners Board." He argued that a larger number of single district commissioners would facilitate the appointment of Hispanic, African American, and female representatives, and overall give a voice to all minorities which lack one now.

Commissioner Miller's proposal brought to the fore some contentious issues, such as commissioner Ken Hagan questioning the increase in government spending during these difficult economic times. Hagan said, "We have to take into consideration the financial hemisphere we have to work with, we have seven positions and funding for seven positions." Miller's fellow Democrat on the board, Commissioner Kevin Beckner also raised objections to the idea of government expansion, arguing that the reconfiguration would upset the system of check and balances currently in place. He explained that with three county wide district commissioners, no one district gets favored over the others and that there is risk of

diluting the voice of the majority, "Every single commissioner is right now represented by the majority."

Commissioner Victor Crist responded to those concerns by saying that running a county wide election campaign is too expensive for most citizens and that single district appointments are more easily filled by members of the community; Single member district commissioners live and spend time in their districts, the check and balances are with the county wide commissioners, but do we need three or could we make it work with two?" He also argued that all of the commissioners deal with county wide issues.

Ultimately the Board did not take a definitive decision regarding the issue but proposed a workshop for further debate and for public input, the motion carried seven to zero.

  • Les Miller

At Wednesday's Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Les Miller presented a proposal for the expansion of the board through the increase of single member districts. This action, he argued, would allow for better representation of all neighborhoods and ethic groups within the county.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.