#4 on list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians – Jeff Brandes

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State Sen. Jeffrey Brandes — one of the most forward thinking advocates of Pinellas County — bumps up two spaces to #4 in the 2014 SaintPetersBlog list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians.

Here’s an example of the innovative nature of the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee: if you ever ride in a driverless car on Florida’s highways in the near future, you will have Jeff Brandes to thank.

Transportation issues, including promoting the fast-developing autonomous vehicle technology, are just some of the matters on Brandes’ ambitious agenda. Florida became the second state in the country to fund research into driverless cars with the support of Brandes, accomplishing a feat that would be unthinkable only a few years ago. 

However, Brandes is far from a one-trick-pony. The senator from St. Petersburg’s District 22 has also been a driving force to develop a Florida-based flood insurance commercial marketplace that would protect Pinellas County homeowners from the overwhelming rate hikes in the federal flood insurance program and provide financial assistance through a free-market solution.

A vocal opponent of red-light cameras in Florida — which he views as simple revenue-generating “cash cows” with little value as a public safety tool — Brandes spearheads the effort to repeal the program in Florida.

Need more proof of Brandes’ influence in Tampa Bay? As one of the Legislature’s leading authorities on transportation, he was instrumental in moving up the timetable (by two decades) of the Gateway Expressway, the long-awaited connector between U.S. Hwy. 19 and I-275 in Northern Pinellas County, as well as a raised thoroughfare on Gandy Boulevard in north St. Petersburg.

Driving from Palm Harbor to downtown St. Petersburg without stopping for traffic lights? Yeah, you can call that powerful.

“Jeff Brandes is a very effective leader for our Tampa Bay region,” says State Rep. Dana Young (#8 on the 2014 list). “He is laser-focused on ensuring that Tampa Bay is the best place in Florida to live, work and play.  What makes Jeff so effective?  He is committed, unwavering, humble, fearless and kind. I could not ask for a better partner in the Florida Senate than Jeff Brandes!”

For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who comprised the panel that assembled it, please read here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.