County mayor campaign urgently needs help
Unless more registered voters help quickly, the campaign to create an elected county mayor in Hillsborough County will fail to make the November ballot, denying citizens the chance to vote on a more accountable structure of local government.
From walking door to door, I know Hillsborough citizens want to be heard on the question of leadership at County Center. They are frustrated by the dysfunction. They want something better. They want the cost of government decreased.
Four years ago, our citizens' committee collected enough signatures to put the county mayor initiative on the 2006 ballot, but an elections supervisor wrongly ruled we came up short. However, our second petition, which gives a county mayor veto power over certain actions of the county commission, remained on the ballot and voters approved it - before the mayoral position even exists. Can there be any better measure of public support for a better leadership structure?
This time around, we tried to get the needed signatures by walking door-to-door, but now we need to hire people, and that costs money. Without financial support from local citizens and businesses, our grassroots effort will not succeed.
Two less-expensive methods exist for reaching the ballot, but they are stacked against the public will. The now-convened Charter Review Commission could put the referendum on the ballot, but its members instead want to kill the veto measure citizens approved just two years ago. Neither will commissioners themselves put the referendum on the ballot, the method used in other urban counties that have created an elected county mayor. Commissioners could put it on the ballot with a supermajority vote but won't because a majority fear losing their power rather than placing power in the people.
People tell me all the time that they plan to vote for the county mayor referendum, but they won't be able to unless more people step up now. If you believe voters deserve the chance to vote on a county mayor for Hillsborough County, please get involved. Start by visiting our website at www.countymayor.com, download the petition, execute it and mail to the address shown on the website.
Unless 30,000 citizens do this by July 31, the effort will not be successful. We the people can make a difference, but your help is needed now.