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Local Groups Team Up To Advocate For Hillsborough Tax Referendums

Signs advocating positions in the upcoming Hillsborough tax referendums outside the West Tampa library
Bethany Tyne
WUSF Public Media
Signs advocating positions in the upcoming Hillsborough tax referendums outside the West Tampa library

With a week left until the midterm elections, some advocacy groups are working to gain support for Hillsborough County tax referendums. Representatives from All for Transportationand Strengthen our Schools were in Tampa Monday, trying to encourage Hillsborough County residents to vote for local initiatives. 

WUSF's Bethany Tyne reports that two groups are teaming up to advocate for Hillsborough County tax referendums for transportation and education.

The groups are supporting Hillsborough County referendums No. 2 and 3, which if passed would help pay for improvements on transportation and public schools.

“The transportation referendum was put on the ballot by the citizens of Hillsborough County, recognizing that we can no longer kick the can down the road,” said Rena Frazier, a volunteer with All for Transportation.

The group advocates for referendum No. 2, which would help fund transportation and road improvements.

Frazier said that they’ve been working with Strengthen Our Schools, a group that supports referendum No. 3, which would add a half-cent sales tax to fund air conditioning improvements, roof repairs and more in Hillsborough County public schools.

Frazier said that residents have recognized that the problems with transportation and education are quality of life issues and they’ve found a lot of support for both initiatives. 

“Twenty years of underfunding education has taken its toll, we need to do this for the students in Hillsborough County,” said Stephanie Baker-Jenkins, the chair of Strengthen our Schools.

She said if the referendum doesn’t pass on Nov. 6, the school board will try again to place it on the ballot next year.

Referendums No. 2 and 3 are at the end of Hillsborough’s four-page ballot. The groups are encouraging voters to go backwards, voting on the local and county questions first before moving on to the state issues.

"The ballot this cycle is long and cumbersome, " Frazier said. "We emphasize how important it is to vote from the bottom up."

Baker-Jenkins said it’s common for people to forget about or ignore the local issues.

"It's easy for voters to fall off, to decide they're going to vote for our governor or senator and then sort of throw their hands up and not go all the way down the ballot," she said.

A sample of Hillsborough County’s ballot can be found on the Supervisor of Elections webpage.

Copyright 2018 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Bethany Hanson is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news reporter for spring 2018.