Kathryn Starkey‘s heart belongs to Pasco County, not Tallahassee.
The Pasco County Commissioner says that after careful consideration she will not run for the Florida House in 2018.
Starkey had been eyeing a bid for Richard Corcoran’s House District 37 seat.
“After much soul-searching and contemplation, I have determined the right path forward for me is to keep up the fight here in my community and remain focused on my role as a Pasco County Commissioner,” Starkey wrote in an email to Florida Politics.
Corcoran cannot seek re-election seat due to term limits. HD 37 covers central Pasco County directly north of Tampa, with a reliably Republican lean.
Starkey’s decision not to run leaves George Agovino, Bill Gunter and Elle Redistill in the HD 37 race.
Starkey replaced Ann Hildebrand on the commission in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016. Both elections for her District 3 seat saw her defeat Randy Evans. Before winning her commission seat, the businesswoman and mother of four was elected unopposed to two terms on the Pasco County School Board.
“I am proud to be part of the Pasco County BOCC team that sets a high standard of excellence by delivering high-quality services at low cost to the taxpayers,” Starkey said.
Starkey began her political career as a citizen activist on a platform of visual standards for signs, billboards, and commercial buildings, as well as limits to bus benches on public rights of way. As a commissioner, she focused on economic development and enhanced recreation options, such as the creation of a bicycle/pedestrian trail between Trinity and Dade City. Three Republican governors — Jeb Bush, Charlie Crist and Rick Scott, as well as former Senate President John McKay — have appointed Starkey to various state boards five times.
Starkey served as commission chair from November 2015 through November 2016, and in 2014, her work on flood insurance reform led the Florida Association of Counties to present her with a Presidential Advocacy Award.
The longtime Pasco resident has also been deeply involved in the community, including being a youth soccer coach and serving on the boards of All Children’s Hospital, Red Cross of Tampa Bay and East Lake Little League.