Bill Carlson, a Tampa Democratic Party activist and the president of the Tucker/Hall public relations firm, is considering a run for the South Tampa District 4 seat in 2019.
“I’ve been involved behind the scenes in a number of the most important issues in Tampa Bay, and people have been encouraging me for years to run for political office, so finally I’m seriously considering running for that seat,” Carlson said Thursday night.
Among those behind-the-scenes issues that Carlson was involved with in recent years was a push (along with Jason Busto and the late Steve Burton) to modernize the workings of Tampa International Airport and press for more direct international flights. That ultimately led to the ouster of former airport CEO Louis Miller in 2010, and the hiring of Joe Lopano.
Carlson also has been involved in efforts to push for more trade and improved relations between Tampa and Cuba over the years. He says he wants to make Port Tampa Bay the U.S. hub for trade with Cuba and Asia through the Panama Canal and the Cuba transshipment hub.
Carlson, 50, has worked at Tucker/Hall for the past 23 years, the last decade as president of the agency.
He’s also the co-founder of Cafe Con Tampa, a Friday morning forum where lawmakers, public officials and major members of the community hold discussions with local residents. The event has moved in the past year to the Oxford Exchange, where they’ve attracted some of their largest audiences.
He holds an undergraduate degree in marketing from the University of Tampa and a master’s in public administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
He also conducted MBA studies at the National University of Singapore as a Rotary International Scholar, studied Spanish in Argentina and completed the Harvard Law School Negotiations Program.
Carlson says he’s in favor of good, ethical government, as well as economic development that impacts all of Tampa, innovation, entrepreneurship and making Tampa a global trade hub.
The District 4 seat is currently held by Harry Cohen, who will be term-limited out in 2019. Carlson says he’ll decide on whether to pursue a run sometime in the next few months.