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#25 on list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians — Les Miller (tie)

For a long time, being a Democrat on the Hillsborough County Commission meant constantly voting in the minority while the board’s center-right and conservative wings debated policy.

When Commissioner Les Miller was elected in 2010, he and Kevin Beckner, the other Democrat on the board then, while passionate advocates for their causes at the dais, rarely got much passed.

A former state Senator (2000-2006) and state Representative (1992-2000), Miller has been at the forefront of some of the most important debates the commission has had in recent years.

It was Miller who last year spearheaded the campaign to remove the Confederate monument that stood outside a county courthouse annex when he called for a vote on the issue last summer. Debate raged for months. Religious and civil rights leaders, including Miller and Pat Kemp, the other Democrat on the commission, rallied in front of the statue, which they said was a vestige of the Jim Crow era that was intended to intimidate African-Americans. Activists on either side of the issue packed commission chambers. The commission went back and forth before, with help from private money, the vote swung in favor of removal. The statue was quickly taken down and relocated to private property without incident.

Another recent victory for Miller came in the wake of the Parkland shooting, when he proposed adding two additional days to the state’s waiting period for buying a gun, bringing it to five days in Hillsborough County. The proposal passed. That vote followed Miller’s proposal to ban assault-style weapons, which fell on deaf ears thanks in large part to the state pre-empting cities and counties on gun control measures.

Miller also serves as board chair of Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART).

He was not on last year’s list.

For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who made up the panel that amassed it, please read here.

Written By

Kate Bradshaw is a Florida-based journalist, writer and editor. She is a former staff writer at the Tampa Tribune news/politics editor at Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.

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