Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former county official reshaped Hillsborough political landscape

The most influential person in Hillsborough County politics in 2012 wasn't an elected official, well-monied power broker or big-time lobbyist.

In fact, prior to May, I'm not sure anyone had ever heard of Carolyn Filippone, the human relations director for the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's office. But in the final analysis, the resulting revelations from her sexual discrimination complaint against her boss Rob Turner impacted nine candidates and four races.

Start with the property appraiser's race. Turner appeared set to win a fifth term, but in defending himself, he admitted sending Filippone emails with sexual content and pornographic links. He said it was mutual, with both initiating the exchanges.

Still, the scandal immediately turned the race into a maelstrom for Turner. Former state Rep. Bob Henriquez, D-Tampa and then state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, jumped into the race, setting off a chain reaction.

Former state Senate president Tom Lee, R-Brandon, and then state Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, entered the race to fill Storms' spot.

With Burgin giving up her house seat, Joe Wicker switched from the race for the newly created District 57 seat to compete for Burgin's abandoned District 59 seat. But Republican Ross Spano also saw a path to victory through Burgin's vacated seat.

Filippone's influence, if you will, set dominoes in motion that left some victorious and others with uncertain futures. Turner lost to Storms in the Republican primary, but Henriquez defeated Storms in the general election.

Lee defeated Burgin in the Republican primary and went on to win the general election. He's already gained a leadership position in the Senate.

Wicker lost to the eventual winner Spano in the GOP primary. With Wicker out of the way, Jake Raburn cruised to victory in the District 57 race.

It all left a lot of officials searching for work, including Storms and Burgin.

The possibilities for Storms are the most intriguing. She could bid to return to the County Commission and there will be three options: move into District 4 and run for the seat being vacated by Al Higginbotham, who's term limited; run against savvy incumbent Victor Crist in District 2, where she resides; run countywide for the seat being vacated by Mark Sharpe, who also is term limited.

The last two options are daunting for Storms, but I doubt if she or Burgin are done with politics. Name recognition alone makes them viable.

Still, without Filippone, Burgin and Storms might still be in office, Lee might still be building houses and Henriquez might still be coaching football at Tampa Catholic.

But her biggest influence may be on how bosses treat employees. Clearly, poor judgment can change more than the workplace, but it starts there.

That's all I'm saying.

Former county official reshaped Hillsborough political landscape 12/29/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 29, 2012 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. St. Petersburg man shot in arm during home invasion robbery

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One man was arrested on charges he shot another man in the arm while attempting to rob a home in what St. Petersburg police are calling a drug-related incident.

    John Alam, 25, faces charges of home invasion robbery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon after deputies said he tried to rob a home Wednesday morning and ended up shooting someone. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Bob Buckhorn, a mayor who knows what he wants, surveys constituents on what they want

    Local

    TAMPA — Focus has not been a problem — or really, even a question — during the six-plus years that Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been in office.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn keeps a digital countdown clock in his office showing the days, hours. minutes and seconds until he is term-limited out of office on April 1, 2019. As of Wednesday, he had 584 days to go. [City of Tampa]
  3. WATCH: Heroic Hooters manager helps two sheriff's deputies subdue unruly customer

    Crime

    BRANDON — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office praised a heroic Hooters Restaurant manager Wednesday for coming to the aid of two deputies struggling to subdue an unruly customer.

    It took two deputies and a Hooter's manager to get control of Ashton B. Toney after he threatened to kill an employee who refused to serve him alcohol at a Hooter's in Brandon, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported.
[Booking photo from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Editorial: Turn the heat up on AC problem in Hillsborough schools

    Editorials

    Hillsborough County School District students do not want to hear that their buildings are decrepit. They do not want to hear that Florida's legislators are complicit. All they want to hear is the sweet sound of a classroom air conditioner kicking in at full power. Anything less creates uncomfortably hot classrooms and …

    Superintendent Jeff Eakins and the current Hillsborough County School Board did not create this air conditioning mess, but they own it now.