In an effort to help you make informed decisions during the General Election, ABC Action News has reached out to dozens of candidates running for office. The following statements have been submitted to ABC Action News by the candidate. Every candidate was given the same set of questions. These are their responses in his/her own words.
Name: Sandy Murman
Office: Hillsborough County Commission, District 6
Why should voters vote for you?
This election season brings all of us many choices to make at all levels of government, and I hope that everyone will vote. I am also hoping you will not overlook the countywide race for Hillsborough Commission, District 6.
This is a critically important race between an extreme, activist candidate and me, Sandy Murman. I have depth of experience and a proven ability to serve well, reasonably and to get things done. I am measured and consensus oriented, and willing to work in a bi-partisan manner.
From good jobs to reducing congestion -- and with a special eye toward combatting abuse of both children and animals and working to stem the Opioid crisis and homelessness -- I have
been a tireless advocate for all of us. Together, we have created jobs, held the line on taxes and are fixing our aging infrastructure.
By way of comparison, my opponent, on the other hand, creates problems rather than solves them.
- In fact, she voted to turn down $3 billion from the state to improve I-275 and encouraged tearing it down from the interchange to Bearss Avenue instead.
- In the middle of COVID, I pushed for nearly 120 new jobs for small businesses and $1m in new tax revenue. She voted against that, too.
- I brought forward the toughest ethics ordinance in Hillsborough history to limit lobbyist access and texting during Board meetings. My opponent continues to flout the ordinance and sunshine laws, and now The Florida Bar is looking into her about violations of its Rules, too.
Honestly, during these times of unprecedented health and civil unrest, we need a broad based, common sense Commissioner like me rather than a radical, single issue activist and obstructionist.
If elected, what are your top priorities?
Our health crisis and recovering the economy. I will continue to rely on the experts and their data, keep our communications full-throttle and take a measured but steady hand on reopening this economy, getting back to work, and creating new, well-paying jobs.
Longer term, transportation must be addressed quickly and fairly to all in the County. I will push to address the diverse needs in specific areas of our county. We need strong urban transit systems, premium transit options connecting suburbs to work areas, and a strong suburban roadway network to better serve commuters. Of course, we need to integrate (and revamp) our bus system with identified suburban roadway improvements to create a strong multi-modal transportation system that connects our citizens within our county but also to the region around us.
More importantly, I will continue to fight to solve the homelessness problems with affordable housing options, to fight the opioid epidemic by spearheading and advocating for treatment programs and beds, and work every day with our sheriff to continue our jail diversion program for our citizens with behavioral health and mental health issues to ensure they receive treatment rather than a jail cell.
What are three key messages of your campaign?
- I bring common sense and reasonable approaches (v. extreme plans)
- I bring understanding and consensus (v. no compromise demands)
- I bring independent thought (v. lobbyist and crony perspectives)
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
Small businesses make up the backbone of our business community in Hillsborough County, and I am personally passionate about helping our small businesses thrive and to create good paying jobs for our residents. For example, I hosted my 9 th annual job fair recently as well as created the Entrepreneurial Collaborative Center to give assistance to our small businesses and the start-up community.
I am also passionate about transportation because it is key to our community’s prosperity including those that choose a suburban lifestyle. We must accommodate road needs as we
implement transit and look toward regional connectivity, including prioritizing fixing existing roads first.
Recently, the citizens passed a one-cent sales tax which has been legally challenged and is pending before the Florida Supreme Court to determine its validity. If the decision is made to invalidate the vote, I will support another ballot initiative with citizen approval. In the interim, I would support honoring our existing commitments and making some reallocations as we did in 2016 when I led the effort to reallocate $812m from surplus property taxes.
I would also propose a transportation Growth Fund of reallocated existing revenues to address congestion on existing roadways, improved bus system and begin the investment in new roadway, and pedestrian projects. This would be vital for the County to do immediately now.
I have already worked diligently to find consensus on mobility fees during the last 4 years, and we have nearly doubled them for both schools and transportation. These, combined with the Transportation Growth Fund, could help dramatically in the future.
Another passion of mine is to make certain that our low-income residents have adequate health care through our Indigent Health Care Plan. I have proposed increases in coverage and believe that this is another key to our residents’ quality of life and their ability to attain and retain good employment.
As it relates to the role you are seeking, how has that governmental body handled the Covid-19 pandemic? What would you do differently/the same in handling both the public health risk and the economic recovery?
These are unprecedented times, and I think the Emergency Policy Group and the County Commission have appropriately sought input from citizens, medical experts and moved with urgency to keep the public informed and safe and to allow as many business to continue operating as possible.
During the beginning of the crisis, I pushed for a more robust dashboard of key information to accelerate data-driven decisions. This collaboration among our hospitals and health care providers to achieve my goal was incredible and the information, technology, testing, and research is, was and will be invaluable.
Of course, I will continue to watch the data closely and listen to folks as we drive our economic and social recovery forward as soon as possible.
In the role you are seeking, what will you do to address issues of racism and inequality?
Certainly, I deplore any type of racial discrimination, and have always worked toward fair, unbiased diversity. In fact, I have been endorsed by the Florida Sentinel Bulletin, and our County Commission Chairman, Les Miller, and his wife, Gwen Miller.
Additionally, I advanced a change in the County Commission make-up that would have solidified the African American seat and designated a Hispanic seat. My opponent opposed this vehemently; however, I will continue to push because I think it is a critical way to ensure all voices are heard and represented!
What motivates you to run for public office?
I was raised on giving back to your community, and was in board leadership roles focusing on children, their education, their safety from abuse, and health in the early years of being a wife
and mother to my daughter, Michele. I was soon recruited to run for the legislature and became the first woman Speaker Pro Tempore of Florida. After 8 years in the legislature, I took a break for a few years, and then was recruited again for the Hillsborough County Commission.
Many of those that encouraged me wanted reasonable and common-sense voice for Hillsborough County. I realized then that I thrived on community building, and I could get some great things done by listening, doing my research, and building real consensus. I believe I share your values and can continue to be that voice for you.
I humbly ask for your vote. Hillsborough County is as big as many states, and your support will go a long way to ensuring our community recovers from this pandemic and continues to prosper with common sense.