Tiger Bay Debate on Whether Hillsborough should have elected county mayor
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06/20/08 Arielle Stevenson
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:

Today the Hillsborough League of Women voters and the Hillsborough tiger bay club held a debate in Tampa. Former county commissioner Jan Platt and former state representative Mary Figg spoke to those in attendance about the charter on the ballot to alter how county government is conducted. The amendments, if passed would create an elected county mayor, whereas now the Hillsborough county commission appoints a county administrator. Figg, a proponent of the amendments, says these changes are not personal but structural. 

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But Platt, who is against the charter amendments, says that there are only three urban counties that have this system.

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Those are counties are Duval, Miami-Dade and Orange County, all of which are home to large urban areas. Platt says she understands the want for a county administrator but there are better ways to go about it than Mary Figg is proposing.

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Figg and advocates of the amendments, feel that the county commission has not been effective overall and say that a county mayor would be someone that would be accountable to the people.  

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However Platt says that with Hillsborough being such a diverse county, the process that is currently in place helps maintain accord.

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Another concern for those for and against the changes is whether the voters will pay attention to this issue in November, with a historical presidential election and numerous state amendments. City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern says that being that this issue can be confusing and that it is further down on the ballot that people will tend to vote yes.

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Some opponents says that if passed, a county commission that already has 6 republicans and only one democrat could elect another conservative as county mayor which would change very little for Hillsborough county residents. But Mary Anne Stiles, chair for the elected county mayor, says that if we do not change the current process there are no checks and balances.

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Voters will decide whether Hillsborough County will have an elected county mayor in November. Pat Bean is the current county administrator; her position could be compromised if the amendments pass as well as the authority the county commission currently has.

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