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Political consultant Kelso Tanner announces run for Hillsborough School Board

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

After years working to get Republicans elected to local and state office, Kelso Tanner is now ready to enter the arena himself.

The Gibsonton-based political consultant announced Monday he will file for next year’s Hillsborough County School Board’s District 6 race.

In his statement, Tanner said that the impetus for his decision to run was the board’s controversial decision last December to cut “courtesy busing” service. The decision will result in about 7,500 high school and middle school students who live within 2 miles of their school losing bus service when the 2018 school year begins.

“I can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch the future of our great communities being put at risk by the irrational decisions of our school board,” Tanner says. “Eliminating transportation for public school students, no matter the distance puts children at the mercy of our most dangerous roads. Safety is not a courtesy and lives are more important than money. It is time to bring a common-sense approach to the school board.”

The board voted 6-1 to drop the service, with only Melissa Snively dissenting. The majority of the board said that scores of students were given free courtesy busing even when they weren’t eligible.

“Instead of disrupting the lives of thousands of parents and putting children at risk, the board should start a conversation about finally fixing the source of our budget problems,” says Tanner. “Property taxes are an outdated system that is completely out of touch with the 21st century. The housing market is too unstable and more people are choosing to rent. This puts an unfair burden on a select group that is diminishing every year. Each adult in Hillsborough County should share in funding public education regardless of how they live.”

Tanner is a Hillsborough County native who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and graduated from University of South Florida with a degree in political science in 2010.

He is the owner and president of Pride Strategies, a political consulting firm Tanner established in 2014.

Tanner becomes the fourth candidate to throw his hat in the ring for the countywide seat. Bill Person, Jessica Vaughn and Randy Toler have previously filed for the seat, which has been held by April Griffin since 2006.

Griffin has not yet announced whether she will run again in 2018. Last week, she was the subject of negative robocalls sent out to voters criticizing her performance on the board.

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

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