When I graduated from West Point, 35 years ago, and accepted a commission as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, I swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. The preamble of that Constitution starts with "We the people..." as the first three words. Pretty important words, those three words. "We the people ... secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity...." That's what my campaign is all about, securing the blessings of liberty for our kids and grandkids. We secure liberty from generation to generation by electing men and women of character to represent us in a government of the people and by the people. I'm fighting for the forgotten taxpayer.
With all that has happened in the past few months, 3 hurricanes, the attack on innocent victims in Las Vegas, the senseless murders in Seminole Heights... it's hard not to think about what really matters: our families.
Hillsborough County is a special place. My wife and I have two sons, and they have only known one home, our home in Hillsborough County. We enjoy camping, the beaches and the outdoors, as a family. We attend the Church at Odessa located right about on the Hillsborough / Pasco line. Pasco-Pinellas-Hillsborough, as a region, is our home. It's hard to imagine everything being destroyed by a hurricane, but that's what people in Puerto Rico are facing. Many will find their way here, and we'll welcome them. They'll need help and encouragement getting started again. That's who we are.
However, our rights and the fiscal foundation of Hillsborough County government are under attack by a corrosive combination of paid professional politicians and big donors that get them elected over and over again. My opponent is a 16-year career county commissioner. I'm standing for election to represent "We the People" and fighting for the forgotten taxpayer. You deserve someone who'll stand and take on corrupting special interests and their political cronies.
My opponent, Ken "Tax-Happy" Hagan, has received political donations, earlier and in larger amounts, than any Hillsborough County Commissioner, ever! His donations are largely from developers and corporate interests having business before the county commission. Isn't that the reason voters support term limits? Don't we want politicians to respect term limits? My opponent is gaming the system, skirting term limits by playing musical seats. He's faced term limits twice, jumping from district 2 to county wide, 8 years ago, to avoid term limits. He's the first career county commissioner to try jumping from a county wide seat back to a district seat. 16 years is enough! It's time for voters to say enough.
I'm for term limits. It gives regular people a chance to serve "we the people." That's a good thing. It's important.
I'm for open government too. Let the sunshine in. It's the law. Every politician has to abide by the law.
Not my opponent, because he likes secrecy. You have to see it to believe it. Watch the video clip to the right. Secret deals. Secret texts. Secret taxpayer financing of a sport stadium hidden in land swaps and TIF and public/private financing. Arrogance. He is ignoring rules that he, himself, proposed and voted into law to prevent "we the people" from knowing what he is doing. Is this what a 16 year career county commissioner will do? Then, "we the people" have a duty to impose our own term limits, by electing a commissioner with a servant's heart.
What will I do differently?
I'll serve the people of Hillsborough County. A servant leader puts the interests of those he leads ahead of his own interests. The Florida Economic Development Council awarded me the 2014 regional volunteer of the year award. Embracing innovation can lead to improved services at lower cost. Smart economic development should not focus on maximizing profits for big corporations at the expense of our family-owned businesses. Giving tax breaks and taxpayer subsidies to big corporations is wasteful and just plain dumb.
Instead, Hillsborough County needs to create a place where businesses can start, grow and thrive. Then, companies small and large will choose Tampa - Hillsborough County as their home. How do we do that? It's already happening in spite of poor choices by Hillsborough County, but it can happen faster by providing good government.
Our county government must embrace innovation. We live in an age of innovation. An age of rapid change that challenges old ideas about economic development. Government has never been good at picking winners and losers, but the Hillsborough County government can do much better by encouraging a diverse, innovation economy. If we don't embrace innovation, our county will be left behind.
Our political leaders must encourage community involvement by welcoming transparency and government-in-the-sunshine and should help our small businesses to find customers and investors, accelerating new business development. Our politicians need to become public servants, instead of career county commissioners interested only in serving big donors and wealthy corporate cronies.
We must keep our taxes low utilizing the principles of innovation to improve the delivery of services while reducing the cost to taxpayers. Innovation is the way to solve problems, big and small, at a price that the taxpayers will support. Embracing innovation will find solutions for our traffic woes without increasing taxes. Embracing innovation will make our electric grid more resilient. Embracing innovation will provide better services at a lower cost, will reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, and will provide opportunity for small businesses to propose innovative solutions to otherwise intractable problems.
Smart economic development supports families, seniors on fixed incomes and small businesses by improving our quality of life, increasing productivity, providing a trained workforce with the skills that innovative businesses need, and expanding the tax base by creating new products and services that bring dollars from other regions into our region, creating wealth. First priority: fix our roads and intersections that are dangerous or face daily gridlock. How? The only way to dig out of a $3-6 Billion backlog for road infrastructure improvements is to innovate. Find partners that want to apply technologies to solve transportation issues more efficiently. Start small. Evaluate results dispassionately. Retool and repeat ... until innovators can find the right solution to fix our roads. Then, execute with taxpayer dollars set aside from savings, like the $3 billion over thirty years identified by citizens that reviewed the 2017 budget for savings (and found plenty that were not implemented).
My opponent in the Republican primary is a 16-year career county commissioner. Unknowingly, he's opposing innovation. Most of what he touts as economic development is really a failed attempt to protect his big donors and special interests from disruptive technologies. "Hollywood" Hagan's priorities include:
The bad news, if those mis-priorities aren't bad enough, is that the Tampa-St. Pete metro has been dead last among peer metros, 25th out of 25, for median* income, and none of the so-called economic development schemes of my opponent have changed that ranking.
"I'm not surprised," said Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wells Fargo, who has tracked Florida since the 1980s. "There's no getting around that a lot of the jobs we've added in the past five years are in leisure/hospitality and in the retail trade, and they tend to pay lower wages."
I am so impressed with the citizens of Hillsborough County! We embrace innovation. Our small businesses embrace innovation. I've met companies working on artificial intelligence, energy storage and computing technology that will change our economy, if successful. We already have great success stories ... too many to name them all.
We have politically active citizens. The BOCC formed a citizens advisory council, and these citizen volunteers found more than $3 Billion of savings within the Hillsborough County budget, over a 30-year period, without cutting any services. That's enough to fix our traffic problems, cut taxes and invest in smart economic development that can broaden the tax base, reducing taxes further and creating the jobs of the future in Hillsborough County. The county commission largely ignored the unanimous recommendations of the citizens' committee, but this setback is unlikely to dampen citizen activism.
We have a great opportunity to invest in infrastructure and good government that supports small business creation and job growth. Small businesses already account for 200,000 jobs, and small businesses are where the jobs of the future will be created.
Median family income will increase when businesses create new products and services that are sold outside of Hillsborough County, which brings new money into our economy. Economic development focused on starting, growing and retaining innovative businesses broadens the tax base and reduces taxes on our families, seniors and small businesses. Stadiums don't. Hollywood film commissions don't. Career politicians like "Tax-Happy" Hagan don't.
With visionary leadership our region can grasp an historic opportunity, and we'll transform Tampa - Hillsborough from a tourism, real estate, finance, back office economy to a diverse innovation economy, rivaling any in the Southeast. I see promise in the life sciences and personalized medicine, energy storage, artificial intelligence, urban tech and autonomous vehicles. We don't have to pick winners and losers. We just need to empower people to learn new skills and to launch new enterprises. Let entrepreneurs take risks, and we'll all reap the benefits.
We have great talent coming out of our schools. We've got a superb quality of life. We should focus on building great neighborhoods, superior schools and first class infrastructure, creating an opportunity economy. Let's keep our best and brightest here by creating an exciting, diverse region, full of opportunity and with innovative businesses starting, growing, thriving, solving problems and creating jobs for the future.
"Hollywood" Hagan obligated Hillsborough County taxpayers to pay for his film commission incentive program. Employee salaries and expenses added up to as much or more than the incentives awarded. During the past 5 years, only one "major" motion picture - "The Infiltrator" - shot a small portion of its footage in Tampa. "Hollywood accounting" practices being notoriously opaque, it's difficult to justify incentives based on "expenditures" for location shooting, production and post production. That's exactly what our film commission did, accepting paperwork on costs submitted by film companies, with help from the commission! Taxpayer cash for "Hollywood accounting" receipts. This is done in the name of "economic development," even though the State of Florida's experience showed that film incentives lose taxpayers money on every dollar invested.
Paid by Chris Paradies, Republican, for Hillsborough County Commission, District 2
Chris Paradies Campaign, PO Box 340611, Tampa, FL 33694