Jim Norman isn’t the only Republican to enter the increasingly wild Hillsborough County Commission District 6 race today.
Tim Schock, who lost a primary challenge to Al Higginbotham in the GOP Primary for the countywide District 7 seat last August, filed today to run for the open seat in 2016. The 42-year-old strategies and operations consultant says that he doesn’t see himself as the “anti” Norman.
“I am a new voice experienced in business and experienced in some of the significant issues that are facing the county,” he said in a phone interview on Tuesday. Among those issues are transportation and economic development. He says his appeal is bringing fresh ideas to the table. “That’s where my strengths lie.”
The youth vs. experience angle that Schock will use over the course of the next year against Norman, who not only left politics under a cloud of suspicion three years ago, but also has worked in government for 20 years, which may not be a plus with GOP voters if the current presidential race is any guide.
Regarding the proposed transportation tax in Hillsborough County that may be on the 2016 ballot, Schock expresses disappointment that the Go Hillsborough Committee working on the public information aspect of the plan has now reintroduced the idea of a full-cent sales tax, as opposed to the half-cent sales tax that came out of the first round of public meetings in June.
“There’s been an effort without elected officials’ input, or at least seems to be, to say that we are now floating a one-cent (sales tax), despite what our findings were in June, and say that, well, here are all the projects we’re talking about now. But these are all the projects that we’re going to miss out on,” he says. “You know, I think the organization that’s managing Go Hillsborough is really splitting from what their own findings were back in June.”
Schock predicts massive leaps of technology in transportation over the next 5-10 years, such as more research and development of autonomous vehicle technology, which he says doesn’t mean driverless cars per se. “That’s in transit. That’s in freight and trucking, and how we can manage our ports.”
And he says that while attracting new businesses is important (an obsession with the current BOCC), Schock says he cares just as much about retaining small businesses in the county.
When asked to define his occupation, he says the easy title is strategy and operations consultant for transportation, technology and communications groups.
Schock’s entry in the race now means that there are three Republicans and three Democrats running in the countywide race. And there could be more to follow. The seat is currently occupied by Democrat Kevin Beckner, who is being term-limited out of office.
Beckner is challenging Clerk of the Courts head Pat Frank in a contested primary run next August.
Schock lives in the Westshore area of Tampa with his wife and teenage son and daughter.