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Pat Kemp victorious in Hillsborough County District 6, besting well-known contenders

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Pat Kemp ran away from a field that included three other well-known candidates Tuesday to win the Democratic primary in the Hillsborough County Commission – District 6 race.

Kemp received 45 percent of the vote in a strong field that included John Dicks, Tom Scott and Brian Willis. It will be Kemp’s second try at a commission seat. She narrowly lost by a half-percentage point in 2014.

Willis had received the endorsement from the Tampa Bay Times and La Gaceta while Kemp boasted endorsements from U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, former University of South Florida President Betty Castor, and former congressman Jim Davis.

Scott, a former member of both the Tampa City Council and the county commission, had the backing of Mayor Bob Buckhorn. Dicks, who served three terms as Plant City’s mayor, touted his experience and ability to work with both parties.

Kemp had opposed the county’s controversial and doomed “Go Hillsborough” sales tax initiative, which commissioners later refused to put on the ballot for November.

Transportation was the top issue in voters’ minds.

Kemp had argued that the proposed tax didn’t include enough money for mass transit options, while Willis took a more populist view. He proposed a citizens’ referendum to properly handle money from a 30-year tax.

Scott, Willis and Dicks had cautiously favored “Go Hillsborough” but questioned if the spending priorities were right.

Joe Henderson has had a 45-year career in newspapers, including the last nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. He covered a large variety of things, primarily in sports but also including hard news. The two intertwined in the decade-long search to bring Major League Baseball to the area. Henderson was also City Hall reporter for two years and covered all sides of the sales tax issue that ultimately led to the construction of Raymond James Stadium. He served as a full-time sports columnist for about 10 years before moving to the metro news columnist for the last 4 ½ years. Henderson has numerous local, state and national writing awards. He has been married to his wife, Elaine, for nearly 35 years and has two grown sons – Ben and Patrick.

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