Steve Cona says he's ready for the rough and tumble of a campaign

"I took offense to that," he says of the effort led by Lydia Medrano, district director of the League of the Latin American Citizens, and La Gaceta publisher and editor Patrick Manteiga and many others.

"I'm not for divisive politics." he said of the attempt to craft such a seat. Like others, he was upset that the redistricting map that Beckner and those advocates supported was dubbed, "The people's map."

"A piece of the Hispanic community," he says when questioned about the support for such a seat from Latino advocates (Cona is Cuban and Italian).

Cona is excited about running for office, but twice in a twenty minute interview he says that running for office is "cut-throat," understanding that it's more comfortable to be criticizing on the sidelines than to be running for office.

He also is of the mindset that local government, specifically Hillsborough County could be more efficient with their budget. "Businesses are already over-regulated. As a local government, we can't be another hurdle (for businesses). We have too many coming from Washington and Tallahassee. We have be the user friendly government locally to allow us to easily access the laws...but make things more efficient."

There is a Steve Cona recently named to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's committee on economic competitiveness. But that's not the candidate, but his father, who is president of the same company as the son.

Cona also believes there's too much duplication in the region and says it's preventing economic development to prosper in the region. "We need to start thinking a little bit more with one voice. That's a huge thing," he says,

When asked what politicians, current or past, that he admires, he mentions two Tampa Republicans just elected last year - Jamie Grant and Dana Young. And Dick Greco as well.

But speaking to him for awhile, you get the feeling that he represents those small businesses one hears about during these tough economic times who says that they're not getting a break from government. And he wants to do something about it.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner has been working hard on his re-election bid for 2012 for awhile, and from the number of GOP entrants who want to remove him from his District six seat next year, he can't start soon enough.

Brad Faircloth, Margaret Iuculano and Steve Cona have all filed to run the Republican primary opposing Beckner seat next year. CL hopes to speak with Faircloth and Iuculano soon, but met up last Friday afternoon with the 37-year-old Cona, a 5th generation local resident who is is the chief operating officer with the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.

His organization represents some 400 companies that employ tens of thousands of people, and their endorsement carries some weight. Cona says it was as a member of his board conducting interviews with candidates over the past few years that the idea came to him that his organization should begin grooming candidates. But when nobody really stood out he thought, why not himself?

He believes Beckner has been "very moderate," since he was elected to the board back in 2008, and says his reason for running against him has more to do with the fact that the District 6 seat is the only countywide office that is up for a vote in 2012 than any particular mission to knock out one of the two Democrats on the board (the other is Les Miller).

But he does take issue with an effort that Beckner championed last month - a bid by some members of the Hillsborough Latino community to have the board of county commissioners back a plan to redraw District One to make it more of a "Hispanic" seat (that effort would have pushed that demographic up to 36 percent of the area).

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