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Castor defeats Hart to take District 1 seat

Democratic candidate Kathy Castor, daughter of former USF president Betty Castor, defeated opponent Chris Hart to take the District 1 seat in the Hillsborough County Commission.

Castor received 52 percent of the vote to serve the South Tampa area for the district, including Town n’ Country and portions of West Tampa.

Castor said a big part of her victory is due to the volunteers who have helped her along the way.

“Thank you so much to so many campaign volunteers who worked for months,” Castor said. “We had probably 100 who did various things like work door-to-door and attended events … to help me.”

Castor’s mother has served as a state education commissioner and both have said growth is a major issue for the Tampa Bay area.

“I think I could do a better job for growth management,” Castor said.

Castor said she gives her mother credit for inspiring her to run for the seat as well.

“She has been a wonderful role model, and she probably spurred my interest in running,” Castor said. “But watching the board of county commissioners bicker and get bogged down in petty discussions has inspired me, too.”

Castor’s victory comes against an opponent who has held a seat in the commission for eight years.

Hart took a countywide position in the commission in 1994 and again in 1998, but in order to run for a seat again, he had to switch districts.

Term limits are something Castor has wanted to change since her campaign began as well as ethics policies for commissioners.

Castor wants business trips taken by commissioners to be listed on meeting agendas. Castor has said in debates that anyone should be able to review the cost and purpose of travel expenses.

“The first thing new I’d like to see the board do to raise the confidence is raise the bar of ethics on the board,” Castor said. “It’s going to take some study and a community dialogue though.”

Some of the major issues Castor said she plans to dedicate her time to in the commission are education, health care and accommodating growth.

Improving the local environment has also been another area of concern for Castor, who serves on the MacDill Air Force Base Environmental Restoration Advisory Board.

Castor will take the seat of Stacey Easterling, who left District 1 to attempt to advance to an at-large seat in the commission.