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Republican David Wilson considers a run for Hillsborough Commission in 2018

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

After Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham announced last week that he won’t run for re-election next year, several names have been floated as potential candidates on both sides of the aisle for the countywide District 7 seat, including Tom Aderhold, Janet Cruz, Tim Schock, and Kevin Beckner. 

Along with those likely suspects, there will undoubtedly be some individuals who’ve never ran for office before in the mix, and one of them could be David Wilson.

Wilson is a Valrico-based commercial real estate sales associate and a recent graduate in Finance from the University of Tampa. He’s very civically engaged, serving on a number of local boards, such as the Women’s Resource Center of Tampa, the Affordable Housing Board for Hillsborough County, the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee (where he was picked to serve by Commissioner Victor Crist), the Hillsborough County MPO’s Citizens’s Advisory Committee (where he was appointed by Ken Hagan) and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Black Advisory Council.

When asked how and why he became so engaged in the community, Wilson credits his mother, Pamala Davis, who worked for approximately twenty years for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office before retiring recently.

“I remember sometimes when it would be raining and she would pull over to the side of the road when I was really young, just for the sake of helping someone,” he recounts. “That same engagement and mentality kind of transferred over to me.”

Wilson will turn 24 this summer. If he were to run and win next year, he would bring in some much needed youth to the BOCC (whose youngest current member is chairman Stacy White, who is 44). He says he’s eyeing a run for the District 7 race, though isn’t ready to commit just yet.

“I’ve always agreed with the message of working hard. I relish the role of providing for my family and not having another entity or someone else providing for my family,” he says of how he became a Republican. “That small government message really spoke to me.”

Having said that, Wilson believes there is a role for government action, particularly when it comes to protecting the environment. He says an issue close to his heart is affordable housing, noting how his peers who have just graduated from college are looking at rising rental prices in the county.

“I’m pro transit,” he volunteers. “As someone making a living in eastern Hillsborough County, I know people are moving here, and we need avenues to get people moving.” He says he opposed the Go Hillsborough after the controversy regarding its subcontracting resulted in an investigation by the Sheriff’s Department. “Trust is crucial and I believe it was broken.”

Wilson says he’s not opposed to a sales tax increase to pay for transit, but would want o review the finances thoroughly. He opposed last fall’s BOCC vote to spend $600 million over ten years because it did not make any movements towards transit options. And he supports the Tampa Bay Express project.

He’s also as associate member of the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau in their Young Rancher and Farmers program, and says he understands some of the big agriculture issues about what farmers are trying to accomplish. “I could be a very strong advocate for them and a very unique advocate, because you don’t see a lot of African-Americans possessing that knowledge.”

“I think local government would be a great place for me to help local people,” he says about his interest in running for county commission. “I think some people would try to being my age against me, but it’s not the age. It’s about the experience I bring,” he says.

Wilson says he’ll make a decision about running in the District 7 race by April.

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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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