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April Griffin only interested in running for school board — NOT County Commission — in 2018

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

As Hillsborough County Democrats search for a candidate with the kind of name recognition to defeat GOP incumbents Victor Crist and Sandy Murman in countywide elections next year, April Griffin confirms that she won’t be one of them.

The District 6 School board member says she’ll be filing in January for re-election. And she has no desire to run for any other elected position.

“I’ve been approached by quite a few people, at the state level and the county level,” Griffin said Monday. “I’m not interested in any of those seats.”

Griffin’s name has been floated by some Hillsborough Democrats as they look for candidates in the District 5 and District 7 seats up for grabs next year.

Crist, who is term limited, has already filed to try to get another four and maybe eight years on the board running for the countywide District 5 seat. First-time candidates Elvis Piggott and Angel Urbina Capo have filed to run, too, while Tea Party activist Tim Curtis has filed on the GOP side.

It’s the same situation for Democrats in District 7, where first-time Democrats Sky White, Angel D’Angelo and Charles Davis III have filed to run against Murman, who was just elected for four more years in District 1, but now is seeking to prolong her county commission career by winning four and possibly eight more years in District 7.

Griffin filed to run for the District 7 seat in 2014, but ultimately opted out of that race and ran again for reelection to her school board seat, which she has held since 2006. She says she had a specific reason for running back then but believes that situation has been alleviated, and she wants to stay in the school district.

“There was a huge gap between the business community and the school district around the programming we have and what we can offer as far as certifications and what businesses need, and I wanted to bridge that gap,” she recounts, adding that the correct people and processes have been put in place to do that now in the school district.

“I’m an educator at heart,” she says. “That’s what I love, and that was something that I saw was a big need in our community as a whole, and now we’re doing that.”

A poll was undertaken over the weekend asking Hillsborough voters what they thought of Griffin, as well as Crist and Murman. It also asked questions about a potential need for a tax to raise funds for the school district, and whether it would be better to raise the sales tax or property taxes. The school board has not declared that they intend to call for raising taxes.

Griffin says she has no idea who is paying for that call.

Meanwhile, Kelso Tanner, a Republican who has already declared his candidacy against Griffin in District in 2018, is contacting voters in Hillsborough County with a robocall where he blasts Griffin as being one of the six-member of the board who voted last December to remove courtesy busing later this year because it was costing the district too much money.

“I implore you to call 813-272-4022 and demand that this ruling be reversed,” Tanner says on the call.

The only problem is that is the district’s fax number, meaning if you dial the number you’ll just hear a loud pitch at the end of the call.

Beginning in August of 2017, about 7,500 high school and middle school students who live within two miles of their school will lose their bus service.

Griffin says the board simply can’t afford to pay for those rides any longer

“I thought he was a fiscal conservative, and this flies in the face of it in my opinion,” Griffin says of Tanner. “This is a financial decision that we made as a school district. We’re under some pretty difficult financial circumstances, and we’ve got to find every that we can to reduce our expenditures, so that we can keep the money in the classrooms so we can continue to teach kids.”

Tanner responded shortly after this story was posted.

“Being fiscally conservative doesn’t mean we prioritize money over the lives of school children,” he said in response to Griffin’s comment.

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 [email protected]

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