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Different money, philosophies: Incumbent Ken Hagan, a favorite of the building industry, casts himself as a conservative Republican. David Cutting is more liberal, advocating better county services for low-income people.

Published October 26, 2004

The week after our last hurricane, the campaigns of Democrat David Cutting and Republican Ken Hagan were as different as rain and sun.

Cutting squeezed the most out of his low-budget campaign. He visited two government TV stations for free appearances. He attended meet-the-candidate conclaves. He waved signs during two rush hours.

Hagan, in contrast, suspended campaigning for most of September, citing the need to serve storm-ravaged constituents.

Hagan probably could afford to. He emerged from the Aug. 31 primaries with $92,000 unspent, the richest campaign treasury of any commission candidate then. That's after sending voters at least seven mailings during the GOP primary race.

Cutting's funds, meanwhile, were in the red by some $250. "This is a grass roots, people-based campaign," he said.

The men's differences go far beyond money.

Hagan, a two-year incumbent, has been the quietest member of the Hillsborough County Commission, missing most campaign forums. Cutting has leaped at the limelight.

Cutting is more liberal in his views, advocating better county services for low-income people. Hagan has been antitax and largely prodevelopment.

"With a $3-billion budget, we've got the revenues to do what we want to do," Hagan said.

The race also has a write-in candidate, Democrat Don Fulmer of Lutz.

This is Cutting's first run for office, but not his first taste of controversy.

Cutting has been one of the most tenacious critics of his homeowners association in the Plantation at Carrollwood, an 1,832-home neighborhood off Gunn Highway. He particularly protested the removal of dozens of palms from common areas.

Cutting served on the homeowners' board, but resigned in 2001 after several of his allies lost a tumultuous board election. Cutting later sued the board, lost and filed for bankruptcy in the face of a $6,500 judgment for legal fees.

He filed to run for the County Commission four months after Plantation's community association manager, Tom Jones, entered the same race as a Republican. Hagan defeated Jones in August.

Cutting said there was no Plantation connection. He said he was inspired to run when he couldn't get health insurance for his 11/2-year-old daughter.

Cutting advocates expanding the county's indigent health care system. He also supports raising the minimum wage for employees of the county and its contractors. He wants the county to improve its bus service and to sponsor outreach programs for veterans, particularly homeless ones.

"These are the people who have been disenfranchised," Cutting said.

In both of Hagan's campaigns, he cast himself as the most conservative Republican running. On the County Commission, Hagan opposed higher taxes and fees, even popular ones for causes such as new fire stations.

Hagan has been a favorite of the building industry, receiving at least $50,000 in contributions from construction and real estate interests. He has been one of the most dependable commission votes for developers.

Following the model of his long-ago Little League coach, County Commissioner Jim Norman, Hagan campaigns door to door and lists constituent service as his top priority. He boasts of procuring funds for a larger Upper Tampa Bay branch library than the county had planned, for the widening of Cross Creek Boulevard and for adding paid paramedics to the Lutz Volunteer Fire Department.

One of his favorite accomplishments: sidewalk repairs where a constituent had been blocked from taking her wheelchair.

"Those kinds of things don't make the press," Hagan said.


Commissioners approve a $2.9-billion budget, run the Environmental Protection Commission, approve local ordinances and decide zoning issues. District 2 covers north Hillsborough county, from Westchase to Thonotosassa. The winner serves a four-year term and will earn a projected annual salary of $84,213.


KENNETH L. "KEN" HAGAN, 37, is in his second year on the Hillsborough County Commission. He previously worked in sales and marketing in the insurance and securities industries. He serves on the local board of Big Brothers Big Sisters and is a member of other civic groups. A Tampa native, Hagan earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida and a master's from the University of Tampa, both in business administration. He lives in Cross Creek with his wife and young son. ASSETS: House, investments. LIABILITIES: Mortgage. SOURCE OF INCOME: Salary. E-MAIL: WEB SITE:


DAVID L. CUTTING, 63, is a graphic designer who produces items such as restaurant menus. He is a former homeowners' board member for the Plantation at Carrollwood. Born in Staten Island, N.Y., Cutting attended architecture school and held a 25-year series of engineering jobs in New York, and later around the country. He landed in Tampa for the renovation of a TECO plant, and decided to form his own company. He lives in the Plantation with his wife and young daughter. ASSETS: House. LIABILITIES: Mortgage. SOURCE OF INCOME: Earnings, Social Security. E-MAIL : WEB SITE:

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