It's been a long, hot summer but Hillsborough County Commission District 4 candidate Mark Nash hasn't allowed a little heat and humidity get in his way of meeting with residents and urging them to vote for change.
Nash has been seemingly unstoppable, appearing at dozens of community meetings, fundraisers for nonprofits, even walking the entire Brandon Fourth of July parade.
He said his dedication to his candidacy for county commission stems from his roots in Brandon, a community he feels has long been ignored by county politicians.
Running against incumbent Al Higginbotham, R-Plant City, Nash, a Democraft, believes it's time that the Brandon area has some representation in County Center.
And although Republican voters dominate East Hillsborough County, Nash believes residents will be willing to cross political lines on Nov. 6 to gain an advocate on the commission.
A Brandon native, Nash is proud of the fact that his family settled in Hillsborough County in 1852.
Nash attended Yates Elementary where his mother taught, Brandon Academy, Horace Mann Junior High School (now middle school) and Brandon High School where he graduated in 1979. He went on to attend Florida State University in Tallahassee, receiving a degree in criminology.
He spent the majority of his professional career at the Gillette Co., managing business accounts along the East Coast. He returned to Florida in 1997 to manage the Gillette shaving business at Lakeland-based Publix Supermarkets and has resided in Hillsborough County ever since. He now lives in FishHawk Ranch.
After retiring from Gillette, Nash worked with Democrat Kevin Beckner on his successful campaign to defeat Republican County Commissioner Brian Blair in District 6 in 2008. He later took a job as one of Beckner’s aides before going on to work with former Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena in her unsuccessful attempt to unseat another Republican, District 5 County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan.
Fed up with what he calls limited economic opportunity, poor growth management and equally poor transportation planning in east and south Hillsborough County, Nash decided to embark on a campaign to unseat Higginbotham.
"My deep Hillsborough County roots, strong business background and community advocacy are a good combination of leadership for better results in local county government," said Nash.
And he said he would proudly serve the district where he grew up.
"I was lucky to have spent my formative years in this great community," he said. "What I remember most are the people who cared so very much about each other and were constantly there to lend a helping hand. The people in District 4 have a can-do spirit that will get us all through these challenging times."
He noted that District 4 has the largest land area and population of any district in Hillsborough County. Yet, it's represented by only one commissioner who lives in Plant City. The county's other six commissioners live west of Interstate 75.
"It's about time this area got some representation. It's been ignored for far too long," said Nash.
He points to the widening of Boyette Road as an example of the county's lack of responsiveness to the needs of District 4 residents.
"It's been under construction 10 years, and the businesses and residents have been suffering all this time," he said.
"Traffic is embarrassing," he said. "We've not allowed proper roads to be built to support the rampant growth happening in Hillsborough County."
He believes the county should adopt a business model that caters to the needs of its "customers."
"Like any successful business, we must develop a plan to move forward on better jobs, balanced growth managemen and improve our transportation infrastructure to better meet the needs of District 4 residents, Hillsborough County and the region," he said.
For information, visit Nash's website.