By Michelle Colesanti


County Commissioner District 7 (Countywide)


Democrat Primary Candidates

ELECT_Nash2012~CampaignPhoto~HeadShot3MARK NASH

Party: Democrat

Contact Info:

City of Residence: Lithia (grew up in Brandon in the 60’s & 70’s)

Occupation: Self-employed consultant. Currently the president of the Tampa/Hillsborough County Human Rights Council; helps fund-raise for the Tampa Museum of Art, Trustee for the Community Roundtable and board member of the SouthShore Toastmasters Club. Nash also helps mentor young people through the Hillsborough County School System’s Serve Program.

Personal Info: Brandon High School ’79 graduate. Nash has a degree in Criminology with an emphasis in Juvenile Justice from Florida State University. Currently single with no children.

Why are you pursuing this position? “Given our county’s challenges in transportation, attracting quality jobs, and disappointing effort to better manage our county’s growth, we need local leaders who understand these ‘quality of life’ issues and have a better plan for how we evolve as a county.”


Party: Democrat

Contact Info:

Occupation: Community leader for 30 years; Chief Aide at County Commission for Kathy Castor; Legislative Aide for State Rep. Sara Romeo; Lawyer in private practice & Bay Area Legal Services; Radio news director & talk show host at WUSF & WMNF.

Personal Info: Kemp is a working mom of two adult children.

Why are you pursuing this position? Kemp is an advocate for the dynamic and diverse economy Hillsborough needs for the future (more good paying jobs as well as attracting and growing industries), smart growth (stopping costly “dumb growth” that adds traffic and pushes the cost of bad developmet onto taxpayers), transportation (less traffic; more transit alternatives; supports the Tampa Bay Ferry Project), getting the most for our tax dollars (investing in cost-effective transportation options for the future and putting an end to taxpayer subsidies of expensive sprawl), protecting the environment and supporting community resources.


Republican Primary Candidates

ELECT_Tim Schock - CC Dist. 7TIM SCHOCK

Party: Republican

Contact Info:; 545-7793

Twitter: @Schock4D7

City of Residence: Beach Park Neighborhood of Tampa

Occupation: Schock owns a small business, Lightning Capital Consulting, providing consulting and strategic planning to clients in a variety of industries including transportation, high tech, mobile communication and financial services.

Personal Info: Schock has been married 18 years to Heather. They have two children, daughter, Bailie, 14 and son, Jeb, 12. They also have two dogs, Duke and Georgia.

Why are you pursuing this position? “It starts with my wife and children. I am not a career politician. I am a small business owner. I am running because I am dedicated to improving our community. From my work on the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council to coaching my son’s Little League team, I firmly believe that through service, each and every one of us can make a difference.”


Party: Republican

Contact Info:;

Occupation: Managing Partner of Florida Growth Partners, a consulting firm that brings together emerging growth companies and technologies with sources of capital. Previously Lester was Executive Director of the Florida Venture Forum where she helped Florida businesses attract more than $1.2 billion in growth capital.

Personal Info: Married to Grady E. Lester, a fifth generation Tampa resident. She has four step-children, four Godchildren.

Why are you pursuing this position? “I moved to Hillsborough County 18 years ago and fell in love with it. It is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. But I see a need to build more jobs that address technology and innovation, and I want to stop the ‘brain drain’ of our young graduates. These young workers need an environment they want to live in. That includes current and future infrastructure and transportation needs.”

ELECT_don-kruse-headshot-large-635144117144280000DON KRUSE

Party: Republican

Contact Info:;

City of Residence: Town n’ Country

Occupation: President and CEO of Beauty and Health Institute.

Personal Info: Married; three grown children, three grandchildren

Why are you pursuing this position?“Job creation and economic recovery without handouts from Government is one of my top priorities. I have a two year plan called the Property Improvements Without Assessments. All property owners would be able to spend up to 50 percent of their home’s current assessed value on a room addition, swimming pool or garage, for as long owning the property, creating jobs in the process. You will never be assessed for those improvements when these homes or business are sold.

AL HIGGINBOTHAMELECT_Al Higgenbotham cc dist. 7

Party: Republican

Contact Info:

City of Residence: Plant City

Occupation: He currently serves as a member of the Hillsborough County Commission representing the 4th District. He served as Chairman as well as Chaplain of the Board of County Commissioners and as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County.

Personal Info: Higginbotham has been married for 33 years to wife Devon and they have two grown children, Allen and Kaylon.


School Board District 4 (Local)

ELECT_edited terry-kemple4TERRY KEMPLE

Contact Info:; 653-4822

City of Residence: Brandon resident since 1983

Occupation: President of Community Issues Council, a local Christian ministry.

Personal Info: He and wife Shirley have five daughters and 18 grandchildren. Kemple’s daughters and six grandchildren graduated from public schools. Eight grandkids are currently in public schools, three in Hillsborough County.

Why are you pursuing this position? “To help all students have better educational outcomes to improve their futures, and to improve the future of our community, culture and country.”


DEE PRETHERELECT_Dee Prether - School Bd. Dist. 4

Contact Info:

City of Residence: Valrico/Bloomingdale

Occupation: Certified teacher, previous substitute teacher

Personal Info: Prether is married to Max (retired Green Beret) for 21 years. She has a daughter, Madee, who just graduated from Bloomingdale High School as Salutatorian and a son, Thomas, currently a tenth grader at Bloomingdale High.

Why are you pursuing this position? “For past 13 years, education has been my priority, as a parent concerned for my children’s needs, and as a veteran concerned for education itself and the role it plays in our country’s financial, physical and moral health.”

ELECT_2010 Melissa Snively Headshot WebMELISSA SNIVELY

Contact Info:

City of Residence: FishHawk Ranch in Lithia

Occupation: Business owner. She has owned a State Farm Agency in Lithia since 2001.

Personal Info: Snively has been married to her husband David for 15 years. They have four children: Robert, 13, William, 11, Sara, 8, and David Jr., 6. All of their children currently attend public school in Hillsborough County. This year, the oldest two will attend middle school and the youngest two will attend elementary school.

Why are you pursuing this position? “As a parent of four children in public schools, as well as my experience as a small business owner with numerous civic and leadership opportunities in the community, I know I can add value to the School Board. I believe public schools can still meet the needs of our children and our communities. I want to place more focus on our students, giving them a chance to experience success, not only in the classroom, but in life. We need to prepare our students for careers so they can be independent, productive members of society.”


School Board District 6 (Countywide)


Contact Info:,

Twitter: @Asher_David

City of Residence: Tampa

Occupation: Student at Hillsborough County Community College

Personal Info: Attended Hillsborough County Public Schools growing up – started at Dale Mabry Elementary, proceeded to Coleman Middle, and graduated a senior at H.B. Plant High.

Why are you pursuing this position? “I decided to run for the School Board because the quality of nutrition in our schools is atrocious. It is high time to reform our school food for a healthier environment; food served at public schools should be real food that is locally sourced and free of additives, hormones and unnecessarily high amounts of sugar.”


ELECT_Paula Meckley - School Bd. Dist. 6City of Residence: Born and raised on a farm in Central Florida, Hillsborough County has been home for 30 years.

Occupation: Professional career started at Maas Brothers department store where she gained experience in personnel and budgeting through positions as a manager, assistant buyer and ultimately the primary buyer for a department with a $10 million budget.

Personal Info: A graduate of Florida State University, Meckley has been married for 26 years and has three children who have or still do attend Hillsborough Public Schools.

Do you have children in public schools? “My children received a good public school education and I want to ensure the same for all students. For 18 years I have worked to better our schools and have been very successful in getting issues resolved and producing results that have benefitted students.”



LEE SIERRAELECT_Lee SierraSchool Board Dist. 6

Contact Info:

City of Residence: South Tampa

Occupation: Sierra is an Associate with Avison Young, a full service commercial real estate firm with offices around the world. He specializes in Tenant Representation and Landlord Representation.

Why are you pursuing this position? “As a product of the Hillsborough County public school system, and having been both an employee and volunteer of the district, I have always had a vested interest in our school system. My mother, who has dedicated the last 23 years of her life to serving the students of Hillsborough County as a teacher, has had a profound impact on my life and I felt like my unique skill set could offer a different perspective and new ideas to the school board to help put it on course to be one of the best in the state and nation.”


Contact Info:

City of Residence: Temple Terrace

Occupation: Incumbent School Board District 6 Seat

Personal Info: April and her husband of 23 years are both born and raised in Hillsborough County. They have raised their children in Hillsborough County.

Why are you pursuing this position? Currently the Chair of the Hillsborough County School Board, Griffin has already helped students, employees and taxpayers countywide. Griffin is one of seven elected board members responsible for making policy decisions and overseeing a total budget of $2.7 million. Now, Griffin aims to expand her ability to help others through a new role with the Hillsborough County Commission. She believes the county must work to create jobs, cultivate economic development, and meet diverse needs of the community regarding transportation.


Contact Info:;

City of Residence: Temple Terrace

Occupation: Fernandez currently serves as the PTSA President at Greco Middle School and the PTSA Treasurer at King High School. In addition to those and other volunteer activities, she is serving her second term as a Temple Terrace City Council Person.

Personal Info: Married with four sons, all of whom attend Hillsborough County public schools.

Why are you pursuing this position? “The primary reason that I am running for school board is because a quality system of education is a critical component of every community. I believe that my education as a financial auditor, my experience working with the school district to improve education and my experience as an elected official has given me the knowledge and skills to be an effective board member. My eldest son recently graduated from the King High School KAPs program and my other sons are in high school, middle school and elementary school, all traditional public schools.”


Contact Info:

City of Residence: Valrico

Occupation: Corporate Attorney in Brandon. Shah is an active member of the community and a graduate of Leadership Brandon. Her passion is to optimize education for all children. “We have an almost $3 Billion budget, and with that I want Hillsborough Schools to be the greatest in Florida.”

Personal Info: Shah lives with her husband, Dr. Suketu Shah, and their two boys, who attend Public Schools in Eastern Hillsborough and in Tampa.

Why are you pursuing this position? “To run Countywide you have to understand the difficulties in different parts of the County for example the rapid growth in the rural areas. My family moved here from India when I was 1-year-old to pursue the American Dream. Education was the key to giving me opportunities. I want to give back by giving every student the same opportunities through an excellent education in our Schools. I want everyone to achieve their American Dream.”

STACY HAHNELECT_Stacy Hahn- School Bd. Dist. 6

Contact Info:

City of Residence: South Tampa

Occupation: Hahn is a professor at the University of South Florida in the College of Education. Her focus is on teaching and mentoring pre-service teachers to be highly qualified educators who will provide effective instruction to diverse student populations, staying true to her pursuit of making education a priority. She supports public education through mentoring pre service students, advocacy, research, policy change and community engagement.

Personal Info: Hahn is married to husband, Jeff, and they have three boys, twins Ethan and Jackson, 8, and Aidan, 5.

Do your children attend public schools? “My husband and I made a faith-based decision to send our children to Catholic school. However, my concerns as a parent are the same as any parent, I want rigorous standards, safe schools and highly qualified teachers. My commitment to public education spans over two decades and I hope to continue advocating for students as a Hillsborough County School Board Member.”

Why are you pursuing this position? “I am a lifelong professional educator dedicated to doing what is best for Hillsborough County’s students. I’ve made education the focus of my career for over 22 years. I understand the positive impact quality schools can make on students’ lives and an entire community. I believe that education is a key to not only individual prosperity, but a community as whole. I decided to run for the School Board to help ensure all Hillsborough County students are provided the opportunity for a quality education.”


Contact Info:;

Twitter: @randy_toler

City of Residence: Seffner

Occupation: Employed for nine years at CA Technologies, the world’s largest Independent Mainframe Software Company. As Associate Partner Account Manager, with particular focus in Mainframe Partners, he also sells Education Training through Partners. Other focuses of his work include Ecosoftware Green IT DevAps and the Cloud.

Personal Info: Toler earned his Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from the University of Missouri Business School, Columbia in 1978. Toler is married, and has three children.

Do your children attend public schools? Toler has three children in the public school system. The youngest, Rainer, is Autistic.

Why are you pursuing this position? “My desire is to be a voice for the 26,000 special needs students in the district and to bring my IT experience to the Board in order to further career path training and expand technical centers. I favor a green approach to make district become more energy-efficient. I take seriously the careful evaluation of the Superintendent, formulation of county school district policies and careful review of the budget. I support the strengthening of PTAs, after school programs (especially in low-income areas) and additional pay for teachers (in areas of high poverty rates).”


School Board District 2 (Local)


Contact Info:; 293-2824

City of Residence: South Tampa (near the airport). Her son and his wife are Brandon residents and her brother and his family live in Valrico. “I have always been an East Tampa community supporter for over 30 years. As a business owner myself I have been very active in community events in the Brandon, Riverview and Apollo Beach area.”

Occupation: Harris worked as a career counselor in Hillsborough Schools for 18 years. Now she is an entrepreneur owning Circle C Ranch Academy, an accredited preschool, VPK and Summer Camp center near McDill Airforce base. She has owned and operated the school for 30 years.

Do you have children in public schools? “Yes I have four girls presently in high school. I also taught 18 years, and attended Robinson High School myself.”

Personal Info: A recent widow, Harris has three children by birth and two adopted teenagers (age 16) who are still home. She also has two foster girls, also 16, who are still at home. She has had over 30 plus foster children in her adult life.


Contact Info:; 767-6460

City of Residence: Tampa

Occupation: After a long career in Information Technology, Weston took to the classroom, teaching middle school special education and high school mathematics in Hillsborough Schools.

Do you have children in public schools? Weston and his wife, Jennifer raised three children in Tampa, all attending Hillsborough County public schools.

Why are you pursuing this position? “I believe we must restore vocational and technical options to our public schools; not everyone goes to college. I actively oppose Florida’s implementation of the Common Core.”



Contact Info:; 410-4182

City of Residence: Tampa (over 20 years)

Occupation: Served as chair/vice chair on the School Board’s Citizen Advisory Committee, currently in second term as its vice chair; served as PTSA president at Mitchell, Wilson and Plant High Schools for multiple, consecutive terms.

Personal Info: Shimberg is married. They are the parents of three children who are graduates of Hillsborough County Public Schools. “Beyond parents, public schools have the greatest influence on what our children and community will become.”

Why are you pursuing this position? “I believe my long-term commitment to education and our school district, my skill at making smart business decisions, my collaborative approach to leadership, and my parenting and mentoring experiences will create a significant difference in Hillsborough County’s public schools. I want to continue supporting students, teachers and schools to ensure that Hillsborough County Public Schools effectively prepares our next generation. I have been actively involved in public schools as a parent, mentor, PTA leader and community member.”


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Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.