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Platt, Chillura go head to head

By DAVID KARP

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 11, 2000


TAMPA -- Jan Platt and Joe Chillura, who as Democrats served together on the Tampa City Council and Hillsborough County Commission, are now officially political opponents.

Chillura, who became a Republican three years ago, challenged Platt on Wednesday for her at-large seat on the County Commission.

A half-hour before Chillura quietly filed his campaign papers alone at the elections office, Platt called a news conference surrounded by family, friends and supporters as she filed to run for re-election.

Platt gently kissed her newborn granddaughter, Emma, on the cheek after announcing her decision to run for a record sixth term.

"I'm doing this one for her," said Platt, 68, looking at her 7-week-old granddaughter. "The next generation is depending on us. Their quality of life depends on the votes we take today."

Platt said she will work to improve the county's transportation system, environment and libraries if re-elected. An outspoken champion of Florida's open government and ethics laws, Platt pushed for the expansion of the library system -- a new library is named after her -- and helped found the county's environmental land programs.

If re-elected to a four-year term, Platt will become the longest-serving commissioner in Hillsborough history. She served four terms on the commission from 1978 to 1994 before running unsuccessfully for Tampa mayor against Dick Greco in 1995. A year later, she returned to the commission for her fifth term.

Chillura, a former two-term commissioner, has been working as a consultant for an architecture firm since losing his 1998 bid for Congress to incumbent Rep. Jim Davis, D-Tampa.

Chillura, 60, designed the successful community investment tax that helped fund Raymond James Stadium and other public works projects, and he sponsored the city's tree protection ordinance. He said little about his campaign plans Wednesday.

"Let me tell you what my official position is, and that is all I am prepared to say to the media at this juncture," Chillura said. "We will be formulating issues as the campaign progresses. I am in the progress of organizing the campaign and raising money.

"Hopefully, it will be a spirited campaign," he added.

The general election for the job, which pays $75,097, is Nov. 7.

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