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Josh Burgin is leaving HART board to attend Harvard

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Plant City Republican Josh Burgin, who has served on the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) since February of 2012, officially announced today that he will be stepping down from the agency on July 1, as he pursues a degree from the Harvard School of Government.

“Three years ago, you gave me a specific charge to ‘protect the taxpayer,'” Burgin wrote last week to Gov. Rick Scott, who appointed him to the board. “I took that directive seriously and worked with the Board and staff to prioritize policies to reduce expenses and maximize operational efficiency.”

Burgin boasts that HART’s budget had dropped nearly $17 million since he was appointed to the board in early 2012, while the number of passenger trips has now grown to over 15.5 million annually.  He cites other numbers of increased proficiency, summarizing that “HART has been able to significantly increase service while reducing its overall budget and keeping tight controls over its operational expenditures.”

The 39-year-old Burgin is probably best known in political circles for challenging fellow Republican Mark Sharpe’s bid in 2010. Sharpe’s outspoken advocacy for the one-cent transit tax on the ballot in Hillsborough County seemingly made him vulnerable in the GOP. But Sharpe beat back the challenge, easily wining with over 55 percent of the vote.

He also was unsuccessful candidate for the state House District 62 GOP contest in 2004, losing out to Rich Glorioso. His sister, Rachel Burgin, served in the Florida House from 2008-2012.

Burin previously worked for GOP developer/power-broker Sam Rashid as vice president of information and social media at Holtec USA. He also served as a time as chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee and as an aide to former County Commissioner Brian Blair. And before all that, he worked in Kazakhstan, at International Republican Institute.

“I want to thank each of you for the encouragement and the time here,” Burgin told his HART board colleagues this morning.

The June meeting of the HART board will be Burgin’s last as a board member. He’ll study in the Mid-Career Master in Public Administration program, an accelerated program for professionals. He begins classes later this year and will graduate in 2016.

Governor Scott will ultimately choose his successor.

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 mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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