By Tamas Mondovics

In response to an invitation by FishHawk Ranch Homeowners Association, candidates for local offices took advantage of a political forum, to say their piece last month, in hopes of being heard as well as hopefully supported in their efforts to give back to their community.

The 26 candidates, unanimously agreed that the forum held at the Palmetto Club at FishHawk Ranch, located at 17004 Dorman Rd. in Lithia, was once again an excellent showcase of what FishHawk, Hillsborough County’s largest precinct (701) has to offer, including those that genuinely care about the community and bring a sense of purpose to what they are running for.

With FishHawk CDD I, II and III each of which are composed of five-member boards elected by the residents there is room for new candidates.

But, while held at night of the first of three presidential debates resulting in a low turnout, the event is believed to have accomplished its purpose.

“I realize that there were a number of other events happening that night but for those that came to this forum really benefited,” said FishHawk resident Frank Shearrow, seeking endorsement for District II, Seat 4.

Shearrow, a three-year FishHawk resident spoke about his main goal of keeping FishHawk Ranch the premier community it was designed to be.

“Keeping the villages safe, being wise with community resources, and facilitating a smooth transition from a builder to homeowner controlled Board is key,” he said. “If I can stand in the gap, help people in our community, and make sound decisions I believe FishHawk will be stronger for it.”

Also taking turn to reach their listeners included Lithia Ridge resident and State House District 57 candidate Bruce Barnett, D-Valrico, who urged FishHawk residents to continue their efforts in opposition to TECO’s plan of building a high-voltage transmission line between The Bridges and Channing Park communities.

“The TECO power lines project through our neighborhood is a battle we can not stop fighting,” Barnett said.

Former New York City Policeman and five-year FishHawk resident Patrick Reilly, also running for District II, Seat 4, was likewise motivated by the TECO line problem and said the issue along with community safety encouraged him to  run for a seat on the Board.

Competing for District II, Seat 5, five-year Garden District resident Mark Karet, whose wife, Bonnie, owns the Art Monkey in Park Square said being a residents as well as a local business owner would benefit the community.

The forum also proved to be venue for Hillsborough County Commission District 4 candidate Mark Nash, D-Lithia,and Incumbent District 4 County Commission Al Higginbotham to voice their take on the County’s current economic, financial and infrastructure status.

Higginbotham said Boyette Rd. construction is coming in on time and on budget. “The last leg of the $56 million road-widening project from McMullen Dr. to Bell Shoals Rd. in Riverview is to be finished in mid-2014,” Higginbotham said. “Our engineers are working with residents to make sure that traffic delays are as minimal as possible.

Development Districts, each of which is a special-purpose government entity were created by Hillsborough County ordinance to provide an alternative method of planning, acquiring, operating and maintaining community wide improvements.

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