Hillsborough County Commission District 1 candidates meet by Lisa Marzilli

09/22/06

Much has been made about the Congressional seat being pursued by Hillsborough County commissioner Kathy Castor in the upcoming November election, but what about the seat she is leaving? The two candidates competing for the District 1 seat were guest speakers at last night's Apollo Beach Civic Association meeting. WMNF's Lisa Marzilli was there and filed this report.

District 1 encompasses a diverse swath of Hillsborough County including Town 'N Country, South Tampa, and the unincorporated areas of the county west of I-75 that include Ruskin & Apollo Beach – the hotly marketed area dubbed “South Shore�.

On the Republican side is Rose Ferlita, a Tampa native and entrepreneur with substantial name recognition, who has run the pharmacy, Rose Drugs, since 1984. She’s also a seven-year veteran of the Tampa City Council, a fact she often references to distinguish herself from her Democratic opponent – political newcomer, Mary Mulhern. (o.q…�with out here�)

Mulhern is also a small business owner of a graphic design and copywriting firm. Readers of the Weekly Planet will recognize her as a former Art Critic for the independent weekly. She’s also the wife of long time WMNF programmer Cam Dilley. Mulhern doesn’t see her political inexperience as a detriment, instead she says that BECAUSE she’s not a career politician she will bring a fresh vision to county government and will not be influenced by special interests. (o.q. ...“big development money�)

WMNF asked Mulhern if she thought Ferlita’s name recognition and deep campaign pockets would affect her campaign (o.q…“I’m gonna win�)

Only about 40 people came out to hear the candidate’s ideas on how to solve some of the district’s most pressing problems. (o.q…�the people need�)

Mary Mulhern said that uncontrolled growth and the lack of a comprehensive management plan to deal with it - is the issue topping the list of most of the people she’s spoken to in District 1. (o.q…�is talking about�)

Mulhern chastised the County commission for taking so long to raise the school impact fees on new home construction. (o.q…�commission come in�)

Ferlita disagreed that growth was the number one issue in District 1. (o.q…�everything else comes�)

Mulhern met Ferlita’s jabs at her lack of political experience with some of her own. At one point she brought up the fact that Ferlita has received over $100,000 in campaign contributions from building and development interests alone. Mulhern said she’d be lucky to get anywhere near that amount of money but that none of it will come from special interests. And when Ferlita began to respond, she was interrupted by an audience member asking if she had accepted any money from East County businessman, Ralph Hughes. Hughes owns a construction products company and has contributed heavily to the conservative majority on the Hillsborough County commission. In fact, Hughes is one of the single largest donors to commission candidates. (o.q…�integrity�)

The general election takes place November 7th. For WMNF news, I'm Lisa Marzilli.

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