Danny Burgess has just a few more days as mayor of Zephyrhills before he goes full-time into a state House campaign. But before he goes, he has a message for Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn: Wesley Chapel is no longer a “bedroom community.”
Burgess and Republican challenger Minnie Diaz were the featured speakers at a forum hosted by the Wesley Chapel Republican Club Thursday night. Neither were happy to hear reports from some of the group’s members that Buckhorn referred to Central Pasco County as a place where Tampa workers went to rest their heads at night.
“I have a lot of respect for the mayor of Tampa, but we are absolutely not a bedroom community, and I would like to invite him here in the coming years to spend some time in Wesley Chapel and see then if he still believes we are a bedroom community,” Burgess said. “He would be surprised to know that there is so much good going on here, and you can read about it every day in the paper.”
Although Wesley Chapel is growing with business and jobs, it is still clear that many people who live in Pasco County travel to Hillsborough County to work each day. U.S. Census figures from last year put that number at 49 percent of the county’s population heading to Tampa and the surrounding area every work day. At the same time, however, 21 percent of Pasco’s work force comes from places like Hillsborough and Hernando counties.
Yet, a lot of why leaders and even businesses in Hillsborough might look down on Pasco could be psychological, Diaz said.
“It’s like the rivalry among three kids,” she said, referring to Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. “Pasco, being the youngest, was always dictated to by the older and bigger Hillsborough and Pinellas. That has an effect on the culture and the people, but we’re rising up and saying we’re not going to take this anymore.”
Hillsborough and Pinellas leaders have to use terms to minimize Pasco because they don’t want to see Pasco rise up, Diaz said.
“They are trying to hinder us in one way or another, through words or actions, for us to remain and put us in our place as Pasco County,” she said.
Buckhorn’s office was reached late Thursday after-hours for comment, which is still pending Friday morning.
To read more about the first forum involving the two Republicans seeking to replace Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, in Tallahassee, read the April 16 edition of The Laker/Lutz News.