Amendment 2, local candidates on Tiger Bay agenda

10/17/08 Seán Kinane
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The Tampa Tiger Bay Club today highlighted two Hillsborough County races and one of the six amendments up for consideration on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Amendment 2 would enshrine in the state’s constitution the definition of marriage as only one man and one woman and forbid relationship benefits for any unmarried couples.

One race featured at Tiger Bay was between Republican incumbent Brian Blair and Democratic challenger Kevin Beckner for County Commission. The other was the only School Board race on November’s ballot, between District 7 incumbent Carol Kurdell and Stephen Gorham, who criticized Kurdell for the school district’s handling of school bus assignment confusion earlier in the school year.

Gorham received 39 percent of the vote in the August primary, Kurdell received 45 percent. Since no candidate earned more than 50 percent, they will face off on November’s ballot.

Kurdell agreed that the school district did not communicate well during the bus confusion. “Has the communication sucked? Yes, big time.”

The County Commission District 6 race is between Kevin Beckner and incumbent Brian Blair, who did not attend Friday’s Tiger Bay Club meeting. Beckner criticized Blair on a number of fronts, from overdevelopment to wasting taxpayer money.

Last month the county’s Moral Courage Award was named after the late Ralph Hughes, a pro-development conservative who often made political donations to Republicans, including Brian Blair. Beckner pledged to try to return the award to its status of not being named after any particular person, if elected.

On the day when groups in favor of Amendment 2 launched a statewide television ad, the president of the Tiger Bay Club of Tampa, April Schiff, apologized for only being able to find one proponent willing to speak, despite a statewide search. Two people spoke against Amendment 2, the “Florida Marriage Protection Amendment.”

In addition to adding the definition of marriage as only one man and one woman to the state’s constitution, it would also forbid relationship benefits for any unmarried couples such as domestic, partners according to Pat Kemp, the Vice Chair of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee.

David Caton is executive director of the Florida Family Association, a group in that supports Amendment 2. In April, Caton criticized Tampa for extending health insurance benefits to city employees in domestic partnerships. Caton claimed the amendment would not overturn domestic partnership benefits, but when asked by a Tiger Bay Club member whether that means he would stop challenging those benefits, he refused.

All 2008 Hillsborough, state, and federal candidates

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