A Pinellas County commissioner, Long bumped her way up from dead last on the 2015 list of most powerful Tampa Bay politicians to second to last.
A Democrat, she was elected to the commission in 2012 after serving in the Legislature from 2006 until 2010. Long is nearing the end of her first term on the county commission and looks a shoo-in for re-election.
She’s also vice chairwoman of this year’s board, lending her strength on the dais now, for the first time in 50 years, controlled by Democrats.
The board now tackles issues Long has championed, such as decriminalizing certain marijuana offenses.
Long also served on the Seminole City Council from 2002 until 2006.
Though not a high-profile public servant, Long has been a vocal Democrat in the Tampa Bay area. As a left-leaning politician in a far right legislature, she frequently took opportunities with the press and in public appearances to criticize hyper-conservative policies.
She fought against a barrage of anti-choice legislation and was a vocal proponent for expanding Medicaid making her an icon among local Democrats.
Barry Edwards, a Democratic strategist said Long’s like “everyone’s grandmother, a straight shooter” who “tells it like it is” and is “not afraid to make waves and shake things up.”
Long is a familiar face in political circles, appearing regularly at meetings of the Suncoast Tiger Bay, where she’s vice president.
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who comprised the panel that assembled it, please read here.