Tampa Tea Party activist Sharon Calvert to run against Victor Crist for Hillsborough County Commission

Calvert was little known in Hillsborough County politics until 2010, when she and Karen Jaroch (who now serves on the HART board) became the most prominent critics of the referendum on the November ballot that would raise the sales tax in the county an extra penny to pay for the construction of a light rail system. The Tampa metro area is the biggest in the country without such a system, or plans to create one.

But Tea Party-fueled opposition helped quash the proposal, though even its supporters now admit that the proposal was too vague to generate mass support. In fact it did the opposite, getting crushed at the polls by 19 percent (though it did pass in Tampa).

Calvert says that it's an interesting time for local governments because of fewer dollars coming their way from Washington and Tallahassee.

She has never run for political office before, so CL asked her who she admired in local or national politics. On the BOCC, she has high praise for Al Higginbotham, saying he's been doing a "great job from a fiscal perspective and from looking at what government should and should not be doing." She also had kind words for Mark Sharpe, a man she debated throughout the summer and fall of 2010 on the light rail issue.

On the national level, she reveres South Carolina Republican U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, another favorite of Tea Party types.

She also expressed sorrow upon hearing of the death of conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart. She called his various websites and films rallying for conservative causes "pretty amazing," and expressed hopes that others will follow in his footsteps in the conservative media movement.

Admitting that she doesn't have the name recognition, nor perhaps the deep pockets of Victor Crist, Calvert said her goal will be to "get the issues out there," but said she knew she would need to raise money to be competitive.

  • Sharon Calvert

Tea Party politics is coming back to the ballot box this summer in Hillsborough County.

Sharon Calvert, a prime critic of the light-rail proposal that went down to defeat two years ago, has announced that she is running to oppose Victor Crist in the Hillsborough County District 2 Republican race this August. When asked why she was running against Crist, Calvert said she resides in the same district, and that it's time for the commission to represent some new faces and fresh ideas.

Crist has only been on the board since 2010. Prior to joining the BOCC, he represented the North Hillsborough County area in Tallahassee for 18 years, the first eight (1992-2000) in the House, and the last decade in the state Senate. After being term-limited out, he ran for what was Ken Hagan's seat on the commission.


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