Ken Hagan draws GOP challenger in Hillsborough re-election bid – Florida Politics

Ken Hagan draws GOP challenger in Hillsborough re-election bid

While the Hillsborough County Democratic Party continues to recruit candidates to run against four GOP incumbent county commissioners running again in 2018, they have yet to find someone to challenge Ken Hagan in the District 2 race.

The challenge is seemingly formidable.

The Carrollwood Republican is the longest-serving member of the Hillsborough Commission, with nearly 15 years in office. And he has raised an astronomical $429,835, enough with a full year left before the election to intimidate the most confident of would-be office holders.

Enter Chris Paradies.

The 57-year-old intellectual property attorney is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a degree in physics, a Ph.D. in materials science and a law degree summa cum laude at the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Touro Law Center in Long Island. He’s also a U.S. Army veteran and entrepreneur who serves as chairman of the board of director for the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, which operates the TEC Garage incubator, providing professional mentoring for entrepreneurs in the Tampa Bay region.

Paradies says the impetus for him to take on Hagan in a GOP primary initially stemmed from his unhappiness over the board reallocating funds for the Hillsborough Economic Development Innovation Initiative (EDI2), a program designed to encourage the startup community where he served on the citizens’ advisory committee.

Paradies says Hagan is “known to be very good at raising money and a little vindictive,” but conversations with Republicans in the northern part of the county gave him the confidence to toss his hat in the ring.

“There isn’t a lot of love for Ken Hagan in District 2 and he hasn’t really been a fiscally conservative commissioner, and that district definitely is fiscally conservative, and they were very encouraging and said they could find the people to help the campaign cooperate without raising huge amounts of money.”

When asked what the basis of his claim that Hagan wasn’t fiscally conservative was, Paradies mentioned his support for the 2016 Go Hillsborough transportation effort, the 30-year, half-cent sales tax hike that ultimately failed to qualify for the ballot when the majority of commissioners voted to oppose it.

“He’s pushing for tax increases,” said Paradies. “He says he’s against light rail, but then waffles on it and says, ‘well if the mayor wants light rail he can choose light rail.’ So he wants to be on both sides of the issue, but he does want to raise taxes. That is not fiscally conservative.”

Paradies says he doesn’t believe that Hillsborough has the density need for a fixed guideway system, and says there needs to be more emphasis on improving the bus system (the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority recently reduced some routes because of a lack of sufficient funding).

Paradies also says that the BOCC needs to be more disciplined and respectful of the citizens when it comes to master plans for different parts of the county, something that he says Hagan has not been vigilant about.

“I think he has the strongest pro-development record, which is kind of reflected in the hundreds of thousands of dollars he’s raised from developers in campaign contributors who support his voting record,” he adds.

Hagan voted this past summer to maintain a Confederate monument which dominated news headlines in Tampa. Paradies says he doesn’t have much of an opinion on the controversy.

“I’m a veteran, so I’m very sensitive to making sure that we’re not disrespecting our veterans regardless of what side of the civil war they happen to be on,” he said.

Among those Republicans excited about Paradies’ candidacy is Patriots 4 Trump  President Terry Castro.

During one of his speeches to one Republican group he spoke of his background, West Point & left the Army as a Major, and that alone gave me a feeling that he has the ability to be a good Commissioner,” Castro said. “He also told us he has a servants heart, can’t ask for more.”

Paradies has lived in various parts of the country, but has called Hillsborough County his home (he lives in Keystone) since 2004.

Hagan is term-limited from his District 5 countywide seat next fall, but could get an additional four to eight more years on the board if he wins in District 2 next year. An aide to Hagan told Florida Politics that he did not want to wish to comment on this story.

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.

4 Comments

  1. Great! District 2 have the opportunity to vote for a candidate, Paradies, who has high ethical standards. What was missing in this article is that Hagan (after being a commissioner for 16 years) is violating the spirit of term limits in the County Charter by leaping back to the district seat he already held – he was elected to District 2 in 2002. Hagan is selfishly doing what no other commissioner has ever done in the 34 years since Hillsborough County Charter was enacted because of his entitlement attitude. Since Hagan refuses to abide by term limits, District 2 voters now have a choice and they can toss Hagan out next year.

  2. Hmm. “Fiscally conservative” buzzword (read: I hate taxes, regulations, and poor people), plus he’s basically taking the “Sons of Confederate Veterans” line on the monument issue. (Hey, what if people in Germany were like, pssh, whatever side of WW2 you fought on, you deserve monuments in front of public buildings too!)

    America, gotta love it.

  3. Hagan has been playing musical chairs up there waaaaay too long. Termed out of dist. 2 seat, then termed out of at large seat…now wants to get 2 more terms back in dist 2!!! DISGUSTING ABUSE OF THE LOOSE RULE!! NEED TO GET SOME TERM LIMITS WORTH THE PAPER IT’S WRITTEN ON! meanwhile, blast hagan off the dais with this worthy candidate!!!

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