For candidates in local races, the home stretch of campaign season often means knocking on neighborhood doors and asking people for their vote. This is Republican Sandy Murman’s ninth run for public office, and she knows the drill well.
She is the incumbent in the Hillsborough County Commission District 1 race against Jeff Zampitella, and no one will be surprised if she wins. But while she has been busy trying to pile up votes in advance of Tuesday’s election, she has been listening to what people say when they answer the door.
“The first thing out of their mouth for a lot of them is Clinton and Trump,” she said. “I let them rant and get that out of their system. And after that, the main thing people want to talk about is jobs. The economic recovery has been weak, and people are concerned.
“I also heard a lot about taxes, people thanking me for not raising taxes at the county commission. A lot of people seemed to appreciate what we’re doing about issues with the animal services department. That was big. And people are disgusted with the PTC (Public Transportation Commission). I’m not part of the PITC, but I listen. They tell me it needs to be changed, it needs to be gotten rid of. They want choice.”
Murman has raised nearly $313,000 so far compared to about $75,000 for Zampitella, a commercial airline pilot and neighborhood activist who has never run for public office. His big issue is public transportation. He is especially trying to derail the Tampa Bay Express, or TBX, initiative that would impact more than 100 businesses and homes in Tampa Heights.
Murman has been a proponent of improving the existing road system and voted to allow the Florida Department of Transportation to proceed with the design phase of TBX.
She says internal campaign polling shows her ahead in the race, and added, “I feel pretty good about where we are, I really do.”
She doesn’t want to take chances, though, which is why she and others in her campaign have been knocking on all those doors.
“I really do enjoy talking with the people,” she said. “I like getting out there. It’s really grass roots campaigning, and that’s important.”
Not all faces are welcoming on the other side of those door knocks, though. A candidate must be willing to have the door closed before they can make a pitch.
“It does happen,” she said. “By this point, a lot of people have been overwhelmed by all the knocking on their doors. Most of them are very polite, but they will just say they aren’t willing to speak to you. I understand that. For many people, their vote is very private and they don’t want to share that information. I totally understand.”
She should understand. She has been around politics long enough.
Murman served eight years in the state House before she was elected to the county commission in 2010. Two years later, she was re-elected without opposition. Serving another full term would give her 10 years on the powerful county governing body.
“I’ve promised the people I’ll work hard,” she said. “I’ll be honest. And hopefully, we can get something done.”