In his bid for a second term on the Hillsborough County Commission, Plant City native Al Higginbotham is focusing on his accomplishments during the past six years as well as his commitment to solve problems within District 4, which includes Brandon, Valrico, Riverview and FishHawk Ranch.
“I’ve paid attention to detail, acted with integrity, kept my word and responded to citizen’s concerns," said Higginbotham, who is often seen attending chamber of commerce functions, community meetings and social events throughout the district.
Higginbotham says he understands the tough times facing residents in his district.
"I've been there myself," he said.
After attending the University of Florida where he received a bachelor of science degree in political science, specializing in South American government, Higginbotham founded a residential real estate brokerage in Orlando. He sold the company in 1991 and returned to his hometown with his wife of 32 years, Devon, and his two now-grown children, Allen and Kaylon.
Four years later, Higginbotham was on a hunting trip with friends when tragedy struck.
An accident left Higginbotham near death.
"My wife, Devon, received a call from my hunting partners who said, if I lived, I'd never walk again," recalled Higginbotham.
Higginbotham was not only left paralyzed from the waist down from a spinal cord injury but was financially devastated. "We went from being a three-car family to a no-car family," he said.
But with perseverance, hard work and the support of family and friends, "I triumphed three years later," said Higginbotham. He went on to not only walk again but climb mountains. He documented his trials in an autobiography, "By Faith, I'm Still Standing," released in 2001.
"Recession means a lot of things to different people," Higginbotham said. "You will think there's no one else in this shape. But, no matter how bad your personal recession is, there's always someone else who is worse off."
A staunch Republican, Higginbotham was elected chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Party in 2003, a position he held until 2006, and also served as the party’s state caucus chairman in 2005.
Then, in 2006, he was elected to the Hillsborough County Commission, He was elected to the county commission in 2006 with 55 percent of the vote.
There, Higginbotham has been an advocate for attracting new businesses to the area as well as streamlining costs in county government and greater visibility in budgetary matters.
He believes he's also been responsive to the concerns of his constituency, whether it was the Primrose School of Bloomingdale's struggle to get an occupancy permit in time for the start of school or the woes of Boyette Road businesses affected by the continued construction on the road.
Higginbotham believes that kind of responsiveness to the issues affecting residents led him to garner endorsements from the area's two major newspapers, former Gov. Jeb Bush, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Attorney General Pam Bondi and State Attorney Mark Ober.
For more information on Higginbotham, visit his website.