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It’s official: Janet Cruz running for Hillsborough County Commission

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Joining what is expected to be a bruising Democratic primary, state Representative Janet Cruz has filed to run for for the District 1 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission.

Cruz, who is term limited out in 2018, had said months ago that she would be running for the seat, so it’s not much of a surprise that she entered the race.

But that does not take away from the interest level in her decision because she is running against Tampa City Councilwoman Yolie Capin.

“Hillsborough County faces critical challenges ahead,” Cruz said in a statement released early Friday evening. “Population surge, lack of regional transportation solutions and the need for smart growth are tough issues that call for responsible leadership.”

Continued Cruz, “I am running for the County Commission because our residents need an advocate with insightful experience and sound judgment with a proven track record of working across party lines to do what is best for our citizens. As your next Commissioner, I will work hard to ensure that our communities are economically prosperous, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable so that every resident of Hillsborough County has a better quality of life.”

The District 1 seat is currently held by Republican Sandy Murman, who was just elected to a four-year term in November. But Murman announced that she will step down from that seat and run for the countywide District 7 seat that is opening up. That could give her an additional four to eight more years on the commission.

The likelihood of a Cruz-Capin Democratic primary has frustrated some Hillsborough Democrats, who are seeking other candidates with name recognition to run against Murman in District 7 and/or Victor Crist in District 5.

Aakash Patel is the only Republican to file to run for the seat. Juan R. Rivera has filed as a non-party affiliated candidate.

District 1 encompasses South Tampa, much of Town ‘n’ Country and West Tampa, and much of the South Shore area. Prior to Murman’s election in 2010, it was held by Rose Ferlita and Kathy Castor.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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