Mariella Smith to run for County Commission (countywide district 5)
Democrat Mariella Smith to challenge Victor Crist
Veteran environmental and community planning activist Mariella Smith, a Ruskin Democrat, says she intends to file early next year to run for the countywide District 5 county commissioner’s seat against Republican Commissioner Victor Crist.
Smith has backing from Commissioner Pat Kemp, who won her own countywide seat last year.
The race already includes three Democrats, none well-known — local party official Mark Nash, Jamela Passmore and Elvis Jamine Piggott.
Smith, 63, is a graphic designer from a prominent South Tampa family.
She’s a first-time candidate, but has worked for years as an advocate for environmental and community planning issues, including serving on citizen advisory boards and often opposing what she calls unregulated development. Her most recent cause was successfully opposing a plan for a sewage sludge dump near the Little Manatee River.
Her husband Tres Smith is active as a volunteer in disability and wheelchair sports.
She said it’s been 30 years since a south county resident sat on the board of commissioners, and sprawling development has left it “choking with traffic.”
“For more than 20 years, I’ve been bringing carloads and busloads of citizens to the county center to tell the commissioners what we need done. I finally decided I can do more good on the commission,” she said.
“What we have now is career politicians who play musical chairs” to circumvent term limits, she said. Crist, term-limited in his District 2 seat, is running countywide to restart his term limit clock.
“They’re just doing what developers and lobbyists and corporate sponsors want. They’re not making development pay its own way, they’re making the taxpayers pay for it,” Smith said.
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