Saul-Sena protested by police union during commission run announcement
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01/05/10 Seán Kinane
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Police picket Linda Saul-Sena outside Tampa's Union Station.


photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

This morning Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena officially announced she is running for Hillsborough County Commission. But outside, police union members braved gusty winds and temperatures in the low forties to protest her recent vote against a raise for some Tampa police. Saul-Sena said she chose to make the announcement at Tampa Union Station because it represents transportation, history, and cooperation.

But many police officers are upset with Saul-Sena for joining four other City Council members last month to deny some officers an annual pay increase. Gary Bradford was one of twenty police officers holding signs outside the historic rail station. Bradford is a retired Tampa detective who lobbies the legislature for the Florida Police Benevolent Association. He says Saul-Sena’s vote does not mean she will automatically be opposed by the union, but it is a missed opportunity to gain their support.

During her announcement, Saul-Sena said she was “surprised” by the demonstration of police officers outside.

Detective Greg Stout is president of the Tampa Police Benevolent Association and doesn’t buy the excuse of the poor economy.

For her part, Saul-Sena feels she can reach out beyond Tampa to gain support from all parts of the county.

Saul-Sena was surrounded by about 30 supporters at Union Station. Community activist Vivian Bacca is from Brandon and says, "I support Linda Saul-Sena because of her views on the livable roadways of the community."

Phil Compton with Friends of the River says he appreciates Saul-Sena’s work to improve the health of the Hillsborough River.

If Saul-Sena becomes the Democratic nominee, she is likely to face current Commissioner Ken Hagan. Hagan has supported transportation initiatives on the County Commission. For example, he voted to place a referendum on November’s ballot for a penny sales tax increase for transit. Hagan represents the county on the board of the regions transportation authority, TBARTA. Despite Hagan’s transportation track record, Saul-Sena thinks she can win.

Hagan’s current term expires in 2012, so he must resign from his north Hillsborough seat on the Commission in order to run for the county-wide seat currently held by Jim Norman. Norman is term-limited and is running for state Senate.

WMNF coverage of Tampa City Council denies raise to police

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