Jan Platt, Hillsborough environmental champion, dies at 81

The longtime community leader has died.

TAMPA, Fla. - Jan Kaminis Platt, whose environmental advocacy includes creating a county preservation program and preserving the piers that once held up the old Skyway Skyway Bridge, died Friday evening, according to our news partners at the Tampa Bay Times. She was 81.

Platt, who was a Hillsborough county commissioner during the area's development boom in the late 1980s, was often the only "no" vote on rezonings during a three year period where every other commissioner voted "yes," according to the Times.

In 1983, the FBI arrested three of the five county commissioners for selling their votes on rezonings, according to the Times.

Platt's legacy includes:

  • Increased funding for libraries. One is named after her.
  • Passing an ordinance outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  • Leading the effort to create a county preservation program that manages more than 61,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands. The program was later named after her.
  • Championing the West Coast Area Agency on Aging.

Platt was born in St. Petersburg in 1936, graduated from Hillsborough High School before attending Florida State University. She served on the Tampa City Council before becoming a county commissioner in 1978, serving 24 years.

She inspired many along the way, including U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D - Hillsborough), who served on the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners with her.

"Jan Platt inspired me to be a better public servant,” she said in a statement. “She was honest, ethical and loved our Tampa community – from the waters of Tampa Bay to the pristine, wooded areas she worked to protect. Throughout her career serving our community, even in times of great change in local governing bodies, Jan was steadfast in her leadership and it was a great honor to learn from her and know her.  I hope her commitment to ethics in government will inspire another generation of thoughtful leaders to serve.”

Current commissioner chairman Stacy White described Platt as "the epitome of good, honest government."

"The residents of Hillsborough County were fortunate to have Commissioner Platt not only serve on the Commission, but to continue to work for our community throughout her life," she said in a statement. "She has left behind a great legacy that will have an impact for generations to come."

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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