Hillsborough residents support trains and universal health care listen03/10/11 SeÃ¡n Kinane
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Despite a failed transportation referendum last year, Hillsborough County voters support both high-speed rail and light rail. Thatâ€™s according to a poll released today by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Hillsborough residents likely to vote in next yearâ€™s election also support universal health care and a countywide Mayor, but are split on support for a presidential candidate. Bob Rohrlack is the Chamberâ€™s president and CEO.
"This poll was conducted with likely voters in Tampa and Hillsborough County."
One of the interesting things I saw in the poll is that rail seems to be very popular in Hillsborough and that's despite the defeat of a referendum last year to raise a penny of sales tax to support rail. It looks like high speed rail and light rail are both popular in Hillsborough County. Can you tell us the results and what the disconnect is with what happened last November?
"Well, on the question about high-speed rail, 58 percent of those surveyed supported rail with 44 percent strongly supporting it. I think people saw a mode of transportation that we desperately need as we continue to grow as a state as well as the incredible jobs generator high-speed rail would have. And the income stream, as we've see now with the study that's come out, that it would be as self-sustaining system."
"Concerning the light rail system, that also had strong support. 64 percent of those polled supporting it, 48 percent stongly supporting it. It's a complicated issue, on a light rail system. I think people have continued to become educated on the issues and the specific questions they had and they're realizing the benefits of it and this just shows that we're on the right track. We need to continue to work with the overall community to show the benefits of having diversity in our selection of public transportation whether it's our tax paid for county roads, city roads and the interstate system or the high-speed rail system. It just adds to the disappointment that we turned away over $2 billion that the federal government was willing to help build our rail system."
Another question that was asked by this Hamilton Campaign survey is 'who would people vote for' who would Hillsborough voters vote for in next November's presidential election, what happened there?
"You know, that's really interesting. With Hillsborough County and Tampa going to be high profile on the global scale with the Republican National Convention coming into the area, we wanted to see where people stood on that issue and right now it's pretty evenly split on how people will vote. 42 percent saying that they would reelect President Obama and 45 percent saying that they would support a Republican candidate, obviously no particular candidate identified at this point. So it was very interesting to see how evenly split that is. It's going to continue to be an interesting issue throughout our county, our state, and the country as we get closer up to the election coming in 2012. As we know all eyes will be on Tampa when the Republican National Convention comes through next year."
We're speaking with Bob Rohrlack, president and CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Another question that was asked in this poll is about universal health care. Perhaps surprisingly, a majority of Hillsborough voters support universal health care."
"That was an interesting question, so much has been brought to the general public's attention on health care since Congress passed the universal health care legislation and people are understanding how it continues to be an issue that we all need to pay attention to in our health care costs but a majority of the voters, 55 percent, favor providing universal health care for all Americans and 41 percent oppose it, but of those who support it 43 percent strongly favor it. I think it's going to be interesting to see how that translates relative to people throughout the country and as we're seeing in Congress, they're making changes already to the universal health care plan that was approved. What that will be and how that will all continue to shake out for people needing health care."
What did the poll find out about what Hillsborough voters say about a county wide mayor?
"We asked this question because it's been something that's come up in the past and voters favor creating a county wide mayor to represent all of Hillsborough County. 50 percent favor that, 39 percent oppose it, and of those who favor it, 26 percent strongly favor having a county mayor so I think people are seeing as we're watching at the federal level and the state level consolidating efficiencies for government that they want to see that happening at the local level as well. So it's going to be interesting to see what kind of impact that question and the results have as we go forward on our local government issues."
Here's an update from a new Greater Tampa Chamber poll: "A majority of likely November 2012 voters in Hillsborough County favor lifting the embargo with Cuba to allow free trade and travel with the country (60% favor â€“ 32% oppose; 31% strongly favor)."