Pat Kemp, Sandy Murman and Les Miller were all official sworn into office on Tuesday to serve on the Hillsborough County Commission for the next four years.
For Miller and Murman, if all goes well they will have spent a full decade in office when their term ends in 2020. Both were elected in 2010, after serving previous stints in the Florida Legislature.
For Kemp, it’s the culmination of her work over the past several years to finally sit on the dais. An attorney and longtime Sierra Club member, she lost a close race for county commission in 2014 to Al Higginbotham before defeating Republican Tim Schock in the open County Commission District 6 earlier this month, where she will succeed Kevin Beckner.
Kemp was accompanied to her swearing-in by three former county commissioners, Betty Castor, Ed Turanchik and Congresswoman Kathy Castor, who administered the oath to Kemp.
“I know when I pulled up my parking spot C6 in the garage and I saw all the tow signs, it was a little surreal and I’m hoping my car will be there when I get ready to leave today,” Kemp said in describing her feelings of actually being a County Commissioner.
Acting Commission Chair Victor Crist joked that he had forgotten to tell Kemp that as the new member of the board, there had been some changes, and “the parking spot that you parked in? Well, your car won’t be there.”
“I’ll try not to Uber it. Well I guess I can now,” she responded, earning a hearty laugh from Crist, who has spent the past two-and-a-half years working on regulating the popular ridesharing service in Hillsborough County, an achievement that finally took place two weeks ago.
In her remarks, Kemp gave tribute to the female commissioners who have preceded her over the decades, beginning with Sylvia Kimball Rodriguez, Phyllis Busansky, Jan Platt, Pat Frank, Pam Iorio and Fran Davin.
Among the priorities she says she intends to pursue on the board include promoting “good paying 21st Century jobs,” as well as encouraging renewable energy initiatives, transit funding and promoting good growth management.
In welcoming Kemp to the board, Commissioner Stacy White said that while they sit on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum, the two have already proven they can work together when it comes to issues like conservation and growth management.
“A lot of folks from the outside looking in might think that the East Hillsborough conservative on the board and someone who it’s probably fair to say would fit the bill of a progressive Democrat, might not have a lot in common,” he said. “But I think you know that in our work together that we’ve already engaged in, that I think we’re going to work very well together.”
Crist said that he didn’t know Kemp until she contacted him while campaigning to learn more about the county commission and what was important to him. “I think you’re going to be a very functional and assertive member of this board, but I think you will represent your constituency well.”
Murman told Kemp that she welcomed having a second female on the otherwise all male board.
In her other remarks, Murman said she wanted to “finish the job on transportation,” and that the board should concentrate on creating jobs and helping out small businesses. “We still have a big job to do to take care of all the citizens in our community,” she said.
Miller also talked about transportation and jobs as being a focus. “We have a lot of work to do,” he said. Like Murman and the other board members, he said he said it was a very collegial board that he looked forward to working with.