ST. PETERSBURG — After criticism of his public support for a Pinellas transit campaign, TBARTA chairman Ronnie Duncan announced Wednesday he is stepping down from his leadership role on the Yes for Greenlight campaign.
Critics of the transit plan said that as chairman of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority, Duncan should not be involved in the advocacy campaign seeking to persuade residents to back a sales tax hike to pay for transit expansion. TBARTA is funded through tax dollars. Duncan is a gubernatorial appointee on its governing board.
Duncan said he still thinks his involvement with Greenlight was separate from his role on TBARTA, but decided it was in the best interest of the Greenlight campaign to step aside.
“I thought long and hard about it,” he said. “I strongly believe it’s not a conflict of interest, but I don’t want it to become a distraction.”
Sharon Calvert, founder of the Tampa chapter of the tea party, called for Duncan’s resignation from TBARTA in a letter sent last week to TBARTA’s governing board and to Gov. Rick Scott.
Duncan, who attended a Scott press conference in Pinellas County on Monday, said the governor had not spoken to him about his involvement.
Don Ewing, president of the Council of North County Neighborhoods, will fill the vacant spot on the Yes for Greenlight steering committee.