County Commissioner Mark Sharpe said he remembers when, shortly after he was elected in 2004, fellow Commissioner Tom Scott told him what a good job he was doing.
So when Scott announced that he would challenge Sharpe, the rookie commissioner said he was surprised.
After Scott considered a run for the Tampa City Council, which pays $29,840, he chose instead to run for one of the County Commission's three countywide seats, which will pay $91,996 next year.
Scott said he thinks he's better qualified than Sharpe for the job.
In many ways, Scott should be a favorite.
For the past 10 years, the Democrat has been on the board representing District 3. Term limits are forcing him to step down, though he can seek a countywide seat.
Sharpe, a Republican, has yet to win a full term. He was elected in 2004 to finish out the term of Pat Frank, who left to become clerk of court. He unsuccessfully ran for Congress three times in the 1990s.
But in other ways, Scott is far from the favorite. For one, a black candidate has yet to win a countywide commission seat. Also, in the last race between a district commissioner and a countywide commissioner, the countywide incumbent won.
By early September, Sharpe had staked a big lead in fundraising, collecting more than $167,000 compared with Scott's $38,890.
Scott said that Sharpe hasn't done much in two years, but Sharpe hesitates to criticize his opponent.
"Voters are so tired of candidates knocking the other guy," Sharpe said when asked to spotlight what separates the two.
In many high-profile votes the past two years, Scott and Sharpe agreed.
They both voted to cut a deal with Clear Channel Entertainment, giving the company a year to comply with noise regulations at the Ford Amphitheatre. Both voted to support a motion by Commissioner Ronda Storms to "abstain from acknowledging, promoting and participating" in gay pride events. Both praised a plan for a beltway toll road that some criticized for promoting sprawl. Both voted to increase school impact fees by an average of $4,000 next year.
Sharpe said he wants to improve transportation and entice biotech companies to move to Tampa.
Scott shares those goals, and also wants to add 1,000 affordable housing units next year.
Tom Scott, 53, has represented District 3 on the County Commission since 1996. Term limits prevented him from serving another term for that district, but he can seek a countywide seat. He also earns $57,000 a year as senior pastor of the 34th Street Church of God. He was born in Sandersville, Ga., and earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of North Florida. He is married and has three grown children. Assets: Bank accounts, certificates of deposit, investments, four vehicles, real estate. Liabilities: Loans. Source of income: Pastor and commissioner salaries.
Mark Sharpe, 46, was born at MacDill Air Force Base. He was a Navy intelligence officer, 1984-91. He earned a bachelor's in multinational business from Florida State University and a master's in strategic studies from the University of South Florida. After election to the commission in 2004, he resigned as development officer for the Cambridge School, a private Christian school, to be a full-time commissioner. He is married and has three children. Assets: House, mutual fund, equities. Liabilities: Loans. Source of income: Commissioner salary.
County commissioner, District 7
This is one of the three seats on the seven-member commission that is elected countywide. Commissioners approve a the budget, run the Environmental Protection Commission, approve local ordinances and decide all zoning issues. Commissioners serve four-year terms and earn $91,996 annually.
[Last modified November 3, 2006, 11:59:53]
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