Sandy Murman to chair Hillsborough County Commission

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Hillsborough County Commissioners gathered on Tuesday for their “Investiture Ceremony,” where they swore in their newly elected members. With the exception of former School Board member Stacy White (in for Mark Sharpe), it is pretty much the same board that it has been since 2010.

Sandy Murman was named the new chair, succeeding Sharpe, who was term-limited off the board earlier this month. The Davis Islands resident was elected in 2010 in the same seat held in previous years by Rose Ferlita and Kathy Castor. She previously served eight years in the Florida House, from 1996-2004. Al Higginbotham was named vice chair.

Four of the seven seats on the Board of County Commission were up for election this year, but a rather lackluster effort by Democrats allowed Ken Hagan to win re-election by default, as he ran unopposed in his countywide seat this year. Democrats also failed to field an opponent in the east- and south-county District 4 seat that was vacated by Higginbotham. Conservative Stacy White defeated businesswoman Janet Dougherty in that August primary, so he had been waiting to join the new board for the past couple of months.

Higginbotham’s race against Democrat Pat Kemp was the only competitive seat at stake, with the eight-year veteran of the board narrowly defeating Kemp by less than a percentage point in the District 7 seat (previously held by Sharpe).

Victor Crist hung on for re-election in his District 2 seat race against Democrat Elizabeth Belcher.

The board’s lone two Democrats, Kevin Beckner and Les Miller, were not up for election this year. Beckner’s term ends in 2016 because of term limits.

In addition to naming Merman their new chair, board members also voted on appointments to the various agencies that they serve on. Here’s the complete list:

–        Affordable Housing Advisory Board – Higginbotham

–        Arts Council of Hillsborough County – Crist

–        Aviation Authority – Crist

–        Children’s Board of Hillsborough County – Kevin Beckner

–        Council of Governments – Crist, Murman

–        Environmental Protection Commission – Miller, chair; Crist, vice chair

–        Expressway Authority – Miller

–        Fair Authority – Miller

–        Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority – White, Murman, Beckner, Miller

–        Hospital Authority – Miller, Murman

–        Juvenile Justice Board – Becker

–        Port Authority – Murman

–        Public Transportation Commission – members/alternates: Higginbotham/Beckner, Hagan/White, Crist/Murman

–        Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council – Crist, member; White, alternate

–        Tampa Bay Water Board of Directors – Hagan, Murman

–        Tampa Sports Authority – Hagan

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.