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Josh Burgin leaves HART board to attend Harvard

Plant City Republican Josh Burgin, who been on the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) since February 2012, said Monday that he will leave the agency on July 1 to pursue a degree at the Harvard School of Government.

“Three years ago, you gave me a specific charge to ‘protect the taxpayer,'” Burgin wrote last week to Gov. Rick Scott, who appointed him to the board. “I took that directive seriously and worked with the board and staff to prioritize policies to reduce expenses and maximize operational efficiency.”

Burgin boasts that HART’s budget has dropped nearly $17 million since he was appointed to the board in early 2012, while the number of passage trips has now grown to more than 15.5 million annually.  He cites other number of increased proficiency, summarizing that, “HART has been able to significantly increase service while reducing its overall budget and keeping tight controls over its operational expenditures.”

Burgin, 39, is probably best known in political circles for challenging fellow Republican Mark Sharpe’s bid in 2010. Sharpe’s outspoken advocacy for the 1-cent transit tax on the ballot in Hillsborough County seemingly made him vulnerable in the GOP. Sharpe beat back the challenge, though, easily winning with more than 55 percent of the vote.

He also was unsuccessful candidate for the state House District 62 GOP contest in 2004, losing out to Rich Glorioso. His sister, Rachel Burgin, was in the Florida House from 2008 to 2012.

Burgin has worked for GOP developer/power-broker Sam Rashid as vice president of information and social media at Holtec USA. He also was chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee and  an aide to former County Commissioner Brian Blair. Before that, he worked in Kazakhstan, at International Republican Institute.

“I want to each of you for the encouragement and the time here,” Burgin told his HART board colleagues Monday morning.

HART’s June board meeting will be Burgin’s last as a board member. He’ll study in the Mid-Career Master in Public Administration program, an accelerated program for professionals. He begins classes this year and will graduate in 2016.

Scott will choose his successor.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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