Mark Danish is entering a new phase of his life. The native New Yorker and lifelong school teacher stunned the local political world at the age of 58 back in 2012 when he upset Shawn Harrison in the House District 63 race. He only made it through one term, however, as Harrison won back the seat in another GOP tsunami in Florida last year.
Danish has left his Hillsborough County middle school position, and has now transitioned to selling real estate. And while he’s no longer in politics today, he says he wants to run for the Tampa City Council District 7 seat that will be vacated by a term-limited Lisa Montelione in 2019.
“The position in North Tampa will be an open seat and that’s most of my district, and it’s in areas I do well in,” Danish told this reporter on Tuesday night. “I feel I can make some changes and help things downtown. That’s the kind of thing I like to be involved in,” he added.
Danish says the place to get things accomplished can only be on the local level, even though he looks back fondly at his two years in Tallahassee.
“I would have liked to have been up there, of course, but it’s a little crazy up there, so I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish as much as I did the previous time (in 2013 and 2014).”
He boasts that he was able to learn quickly that the way to get any legislation passed as a member of the minority party was to fold his bills into other bills being pushed by Republicans. He says he looks forward to passing on his knowledge to Democrat Mike Reedy, who is running for his former seat (House District 63) against Harrison next year.
Danish attended a campaign fundraiser for Reedy on Tuesday night at the home of South Tampa resident Alan Clendenin, a longtime Hillsborough County Democrat who is a Florida and Democratic National Committee member, and also serves as the vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party.
Clendenin told this reporter months ago that he was contemplating a run for political office in Hillsborough County next. He still hasn’t made up his mind, but says he still has some time to make such a decision, and is still open to the possibilities.
“Whatever I decide to do, it’ll be a well-thought-out decision and it’s going to take everything into account,” he says. Earlier this year he told this reporter he was thinking of entering the Hillsborough County District 6 race, an open seat that is already crowded on the Democratic Party side with Pat Kemp, Brian Willis and Marisol Blanco in the contest.
The 55-year-old Clendenin has been retired for several years now after 30 years as an air traffic controller. He says he’s at a juncture in his life where “everything’s an option,” and says that there’s still plenty of time to consider a 2016 run.
“I’ve kind of reached a nice place where I can pick and choose what I feel is the best, not just for me, but for my community.”