By Michelle Colesanti

The 2014 General Election will be held on Tuesday, November 4. Early voting begins on Saturday, October 25 and continues through Saturday, November 1, and will take place from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily at the following locations locally: Bloomingdale Regional Public Library, 1906 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico, and Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St. in Plant City. Some of the larger races include Florida Governor, where incumbent Rick Scott will face off against Charlie Crist. Incumbent Attorney General Pam Bondi (Rep.) will face off against George Sheldon (Dem.), an attorney who served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives (69th district). For Chief Financial Officer, incumbent Jeff Atwater (Rep.) will have to face William “Will” Rankin (Dem.) who qualified in the primaries to run against Atwater.

Included in the following pages are those races that affect the districts that represent the Osprey Observer local readers. For more information on the other races that will be decided in November, visit

U.S. Congressional District 15 – Florida

ELECT_Dennis RossDennis Ross (Incumbent)

Party: Republican

Dennis Ross was born and raised in Lakeland, Fla. He was first elected to Congress in 2010. Since being elected, Ross has been a fierce advocate for Floridians in the Tampa Bay Region. In the past year, he has helped to pass legislation that reformed flood insurance to protect Florida homeowners and to improve the access to healthcare earned by veterans.  He has also introduced legislation to lower government spending, reduce taxes and increase job creation.

Ross cares about Central Florida and the Tampa Bay Region, and is seeking reelection to continue the fight for families across the 15th District. He has supported measures that provide vital citrus research funding to fend off an invasive disease threatening industry as well as legislation to provide certainty for strawberry growers across the region.

Dennis and his and wife Cindy have been married for 31 years and have two children, Shane and Travis.

Alan M. Cohn

Party: Democrat

Alan Cohn lives in Tampa with his wife Patty and two children. Cohn is an award-winning investigative journalist who covered ELECT_Alan CohnPolk and Hillsborough Counties and uncovered one of the biggest cases of political corruption in our community. He has spent his career standing up for consumers, getting veterans the benefits they fought for but often times are forgotten by the V.A., and holding politicians and government accountable.

Cohn said, “My opponent is a career politician who has voted against funding for veterans, education, and job training, and has worked the system while selling out everyday Floridians.”

He is running for Congress to create a fairer economy for Florida’s working families by closing tax loopholes for corporations that ship our jobs overseas, protect Social Security and Medicare, and make college more affordable by passing low interest student loan reform.

Florida House of Representatives – District 59

ELECT_RossSpanoRoss Spano (Incumbent)

Party: Republican

First elected in 2012, Representative Ross Spano, a local attorney, has quickly become a respected member of the Florida House of Representatives. Over the past two years, he has focused on issues affecting greater Brandon’s small businesses and families, as well as taking special care to protect veterans, active duty service members and the victims of human trafficking.

Ross understands that District 59 relies heavily on small businesses for its survival and that families are at the core of this community. He has worked hard to reduce the financial and regulatory burden on small businesses through tax cuts and a focus on cutting red tape.  Due to the economic climate created by the state legislature, nearly 2,500 new jobs have been created in and around District 59.

He has passed legislation protecting the property rights of new home buyers, implementing greater penalties for criminals who target our veterans and advocating for the victims of human trafficking.

His hope is to continue to fight on these issues once re-elected. He pledges to work as hard for the families of District 59 as he does for his own.

Donna Lee Fore

Party: Democrat

Donna Lee Fore decided to run for the State House of Representatives District 59 because she said Tallahassee is out of touchELECT_Donna Lee Fore with working for the hard working families around Florida.  A life- long resident of Hillsborough County and small business owner for over 20 years (P.F. Auto Glass, Inc.), Fore knows how to unite community and business.

“My priority will be to pass common sense legislation on behalf of the people, not line the pocket books of special interests. Our future is at risk with the continued budget cuts in education. We need better care for our seniors and veterans, not just using them as political props in advertisements. Voters can count on me to listen, work hard, and be a fair voice for the family’s in my district,” said Fore.

Fore has received the endorsements from the Democratic Veterans Caucus of Florida, House Representative Mark Danish, and The Fraternal Order of Police, District 3.

For more information, visit

District 4 County Commissioner

ELECT_StacyWhiteStacy White

Party: Republican

Stacy White, a fifth generation native of east Hillsborough County, currently lives in Valrico with his wife of 18 years, Barbie, and their three children ages 14, 12 and 9.

White is finishing a four year term on the School Board and is running for the District 4 County Commission seat because he wants to be sure that a conservative, qualified servant is elected to the position. White said that the experience he has gained in working with constituents, fellow board members, and senior staff members is invaluable as he seeks to become the next County Commissioner.

But, White said that it goes far beyond his experience. “There are also the issues,” he said. “While serving on the School Board, I’ve established a reputation of standing with the people. District 4 needs a strong voice on the County Commission or we get overlooked. I look at issues like the Bloomingdale Big Box issue and see the importance of having a Commissioner that will be a strong voice for our community.” White said that he also wants to focus on important issues like traffic gridlock, roads, solid waste, natural resources and storm water management. “There are often no easy answers on these issues, but I’ll work with the community and use common sense in my approach.”

Christopher Lawrence Weaver

Weaver is a write-in candidate from FishHawk. No additional information is available at this time.ELECT_Plain

District 7 County Commissioner


ELECT_Al Higgenbotham cc dist. 7Al Higgenbotham

Party: Republican

Contact Info:

City of Residence: Plant City

Occupation: Current District 4 Commissioner

Higginbotham currently serves as a member of the Hillsborough County Commission representing District 4. He served as chairman as well as chaplain of the Board of County Commissioners and has served as chairman and vice-chairman of the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County.

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

Patricia Anne KempELECT_Patricia Kemp - CC Dist. 7

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 and Bay Area Legal Services; radio news director and talk show host at WUSF and WMNF.

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

School Board District 4 (Runoff)


ELECT_ 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. The others aren’t old enough yet.

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.”


Melissa SnivelyELECT_ Melissa Snively Headshot Web

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 is married to 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 and 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 (Runoff)

ELECT_April GriffinApril Griffin

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 sees to the diverse needs of the community regarding transportation.



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,” Shah said.

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.”


School Board District 2 (Runoff)

ELECTION_Sally Harris - School Bd. Dist. 6Sally Harris

Contact Info:; 293-2824

City of Residence: South Tampa (near the airport). Her son and his wife are Brandon residents and 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 MacDill Air force 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.


Michelle Popp ShimbergELECTION_Michelle_Shimberg-1804-2

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 with 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.