Former Plant City Mayor jumps into crowded Hillsborough BOCC race

The race to succeed Hillsborough County Commissioner for Dist. 6 Kevin Beckner, who's terming out and running for Clerk of the Court, just got a little more crowded.

John Dicks, a Democratic former three-term Plant City mayor, on Tuesday joined lawyer and activist Pat Kemp, lawyer and transit advocate Brian Willis and former County Commissioner Thomas Scott in the race's crowded Democratic primary. 

On the Republican side, former commissioner and onetime State Senator Lightnin' Jim Norman and consultant Jim Schock will be on the primary ballot.

In a media release, Dicks touted his experience as a lawyer, former mayor and city commissioner as well as a farmer, experience he says prepares him for the role.

“Hillsborough County is at a cross-roads. The decisions made and the actions taken over the next years will impact our county for decades. We must ensure that our Commission is one which serves public concerns, rather than favors private interests,” he said in a written statement. “We must recognize our County’s challenges not as obstacles, but as opportunities for honest and committed leadership. I genuinely look forward to serving, as I have done before, with energy, creativity and a vision for the kind of community I know our County can create.”

He touted his successes as mayor, namely creating more park land, protecting infrastructure and managing growth in his city.

Needless to say, with such a crowded, diverse field, the debates should be interesting.

Kemp is an outspoken spoken progressive activist who had showing against Republican incumbent Commissioner Al Higginbotham in 2014, and probably earned some solid name recognition from that race as well as her community involvement. She's raised $58,900 thus far.

Willis is the youngest in the race, but seems to be a favorite among some establishment Democrats. He has raised $67,952.16.

Scott, meanwhile, is more conservative than Kemp or Willis (but also has pretty high name recognition, and has pulled in $22,436.00.

On the Republican side, Schock, who ran in 2014 has thus far raised $40,450.00.

But that number is overshadowed by that of his opponent, Norman, who, despite a notorious scandal or two, racked up $108,575.00.