Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp is settling into the list of Tampa Bay’s most powerful politicians nicely.
She made her debut on the list in 2019, just making it in at No. 25. Then she launched up to 12 last year before landing at 17 on this year’s list.
“Commissioner Kemp is a relentless champion for pushing Hillsborough County forward no matter how ardent the opposition. She consistently challenges the status quo, forcing tough conversations on how to govern smarter and better in service to residents,” said Christina Barker of the Vinik Family Office.
“While it’s common to praise compromise, Pat deserves credit for having the fortitude to not back down on what is truly important to her and in The Process, she has shown what an impact one dissenting voice can make among a chorus of others.”
Kemp won her District 6 seat first in 2016 and again after a hard-fought race with former Commissioner Sandy Murman. She was then elected Commission Chair, a position she held until Kim Overman took over in November.
Kemp’s history of activism has made her well known in progressive circles. On the Commission, she advocated for limiting development in the county. But as it continues to grow, she’s helped keep Tampa and Hillsborough connected by advocating for expanded public transportation and arguing against adding tolls to Interstate 75. She also helped secure nearly $5 million for the Cross-Bay Ferry and is pushing for Hillsborough to bring back the one-cent All for Transportation tax to fund transportation infrastructure projects. And it was Kemp’s map that Commissioners selected to draw new districts.
Kemp’s success in winning awards can be traced by her direct line to Washington and another progressive advocate for climate resilience and transportation solutions, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. Kemp was a chief aide to Castor when she was on the County Commission.
Kemp has also worked as a private practice lawyer and for Bay Area Legal Services, which provides legal counsel for underprivileged individuals. She changed her status with the Florida Bar Association to “inactive” following her 2016 election. Kemp also served as news director at WUSF.
“A bold and steadfast advocate for her constituents, Commissioner Pat Kemp is unrelenting in her mission to enact change in her community,” RSA Consulting’s Natalie King said. “She does not take anything at face value and will do her homework and ask the right questions so that she can fully understand how a policy impacts Hillsborough County and propose better options where possible.”
Over her years in office, Kemp has served on the boards of quite a few organizations related to her interests, including the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority, Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and the Metropolitan Planning Organization. She also served as vice chair of the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission.
And Kemp isn’t afraid to side with her Republican colleagues. She recently supported a measure from Commissioner Ken Hagan to explore suspending fines for the Bearss Groves Farmers Market.
Joe Henderson’s take: Her progressive voice on transportation and the environment is badly needed, but she does a lot more than talk. Kemp, arguably the most powerful Democrat in Hillsborough County outside the city limits of Tampa, stays in the fight and doesn’t sugarcoat things.
As for methodology, we define the Tampa Bay region as Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco, but can also include Hernando, Polk or Sarasota — if the politicians from those counties impact either Pinellas or Hillsborough.
We define a politician as being in office or running for office.
Being first on a panelist’s list earns the politician 25 points, second earns them 24 points and so on, to where being listed 25th earns a politician one point. Points are added and, voilà, we have a list.
Special thanks go to our experienced and knowledgeable panelists, who were essential to developing the 2022 list: Christina Barker of the Vinik Family Office, Ashley Bauman of Mercury, Ed Briggs of RSA Consulting, Ricky Butler of the Pinellas Co. Sheriff’s Office, Reggie Cardozo of The Public Square, Ronald Christaldi of Schumaker, Evan Donovan of WFLA, Joe Farrell of Pinellas Realtors, pollster Matt Florell of Vicidial Group, Shawn Foster of Sunrise Consulting Group, political consultant Max Goodman, Mike Griffin of Savills, Joe Henderson, Todd Josko of Ballard Partners, Natalie King of RSA Consulting, Patrick Manteiga, publisher of LaGaceta, Seth McKeel of The Southern Group, Jennifer Motsinger, EVP of Tampa Bay Builders Association, Mitch Perry of Charter News, Ron Pierce of RSA Consulting, Preston Rudie of Catalyst Communications Group, and Alan Suskey of Shumaker Advisors. With Michelle and Peter Schorsch.