Tampa Bay transit is always on the table for Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, up five spots to #11 on the 2014 SaintPetersBlog list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians.
In November, Sharpe was selected to the coveted commission chair for his final year on the board.
A staunch supporter of improved Tampa Bay regional public transportation — including building light rail — the tough-talking Republican is involved in the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and chairs the Metropolitan Planning Organization, as well as serving three years on Hillsborough County’s Transportation Task Force.
Sharpe is regarded as one of the few local politicos who can reconcile mass-transit investment with practical, fiscal conservatism.
Appointed to the state workforce board, Workforce Florida, Inc. in 2008 by then-Gov. Charlie Crist, Sharpe ruffled a few feathers in the GOP by supporting a 2010 referendum to add a one-cent transit tax to fund a laundry list of transportation projects, a measure soundly defeated by Hillsborough voters.
A similar idea is rumored for the March 2014 ballot, but is unlikely to happen since Pinellas County will be voting on its own penny-sales-tax Greenlight Pinellas initiative.
Some Hillsborough lawmakers are taking a “wait and see” attitude, wanting to hold off until they see what happens across the Bay.
But not Sharpe; he believes waiting longer — until 2016 in some cases — simply makes no sense.
“That’s six years after it lost in 2010, and if someone’s going to tell me with a straight face that waiting around six years makes good business sense, then they don’t know business,” Sharpe told Creative Loafing’s Mitch Perry on Feb. 13. “We can’t sit back while other regions move forward on transit.”
Sharpe is certainly a man on a mission.
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who comprised the panel which assembled it, please read here.