Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tammy Harman Interview

Tammy Harman is running for Hillsborough County Soil & Water Conservation Board. Harman is running against C. Dennis Carlton.

I know you are running in a non-partisan race. For disclosure journalistic purposes. Who is this group you wrote about on your website? "I have been a volunteer officer for a community group since 2000 (out of respect for this Non-Partisan race, I have chosen not to name this Partisan community group)."

Harman: The community group I mention on my website – the Green Party of Hillsborough. I have been active with them since 2000.

Explain why you decided to run as a no party candidate.

Harman: This race is Non-Partisan. I have been interested in the environment and politics for a very long time and so this race seemed like a good fit for me.

This is a smaller race. As the Governor and Senate races helped or hurt getting the word out?

Harman: I believe the Governor and Senate races have helped generate interest in the local races across the board and that they will help get people out to the polls.

What are some of the environmental problems facing Hillsborough County?

Harman: Water quantity and quality, pollution run-off into our waterways, high-level of car emissions due to lack of mass transit, overdevelopment to name a few.

What is your position on how growth management should be handled.

Harman: I am an advocate of Smart Growth - urban infill before rural sprawl and appropriate impact fees on new development.

On your campaign website you wrote, "As I was researching the office of Soil and Water Conservation Board, I ran into a great deal of difficulty trying to learn about the Boards projects, where they met and so on. " What about the Florida Sunshine law? Does it not apply to board meetings?

Harman: Florida Sunshine Law does apply to the Board because the Board is elected by the voters so I plan to bring it into full Sunshine. Right now, it could be argued that the Board is operating somewhat in the dark or at least not doing all they can do to make themselves accessible.

Chemical pesticides are a profitable business. How can you convince politicians, who get lobby money from this industry, to switch to organic farming?

Harman: Of course when it comes to change, you have to show people how it will affect their wallet. Instead of focusing on convincing politicians of anything, I would like to have focused workshops that can show farmers and the community at-large how incorporating sustainable farming methods can benefit them and the environment. The Green movement is sweeping the nation. Many more people are demanding Organic produce and so the supply/demand ratio will soon tip in our favor and make growing Organic crops, both more profitable for the farmers and more affordable for the consumer.

What kind of steps would you take to help conserve soil and reduce pollution? A long policy piece would be helpful for the voters.

Harman: Education will be our most powerful tool. Continuing and expanding the environmental school grade programs, holding public workshops to inform farmers about all of the Best Management Practices programs that they can participate in and creating a detailed website with information on how farmers and individuals can help conserve our natural resources (ideas I will encourage – xeriscaping, the use of reclaimed water in landscaping, the use of natural and environmentally safe home gardening products and household products, and much more).

The Board plays an advisory role to the Soil and Water Conservation District and the Hillsborough County Commission. I want to have a ground up influence on the environmental decisions up for a vote at the Hillsborough County Commission level. I plan to rally the Board around environmental issues in general and for us to use our joint influence on our elected officials.

You have an Anthropology background. Explain the excavation project you were part of in Israel?

Harman: For two consecutive years, one month each time, I volunteered on an excavation project in Israel, sponsored by USF and led by Dr. James Strange. The site is an ancient Metropolis called Sepphoris, which is also an archaeological park open to the public. We excavated the remains of what was believed to be a large market complex and uncovered many interesting artifacts, such as coins, pottery, glass, a reflection pool and armor. It was a fantastic experience.

How long have you been with WMNF?

Harman: I have been a member of WMNF since about 1999.

How much oversite will the OofSWB have over phosphate issues?

Harman: No direct oversite from my understanding. Again, I plan to have our say on more broad perspective environmental issues but the reaches of the Board is limited to an advisory role. However, I will encourage the use of phosphate free household detergents and the use of low phosphorous fertilizers for home gardening and commercial farming to reduce the amount of phosphorous runoff into our waterways.

Explain how you are more qualified than your opponent?

Harman: I feel I am the better candidate because I am genuinely concerned about the environment. My volunteer experience as a farmhand with Sweetwater Organic Farm (2005-2006 Season) and working on environmental issues with the Green Party (since 2000) has given me a love for the land. For example, I chaired a Recycling committee that helped to expand recycling services in the City of Tampa. My current position at an engineering firm as an Assistant Planner has given me experience of organizing public meetings (this knowledge will serve me well when organizing educational public workshops) and researching environmental impacts of transportation improvements. I am currently seeking my Masters in Public Administration and I feel that this is laying a solid foundation for me to become a well-rounded civil servant. I believe my talents and energy will be an asset to the Board and look forward to serving the citizens of Hillsborough in this way.

You can contribute or contact Harman at her website.


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