Radio DJ aims to bring libertarian chutzpah to St. Petersburg city council

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor
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As the old trope goes, all politics are local, and that’s never more true than when politicians piss off the locals.

Enter St. Petersburg resident, radio personality and staunch libertarian Brent Hatley. Hatley, 45, hates red light cameras, and he’s running for the St. Pete city council with the promise to “do everything I can to make sure red light cameras are not a permanent fixture.”

Hatley said he was spurred to run after the city council voted 5-3 in April to award an $8.8 million contract to a red light camera company in Arizona through a non-competitive bid process.

On top of that, Hatley says the red light cameras are violate drivers’ Sixth and Fifth Amendment rights. So when Hatley found out his city councilor, Bill Dudley, who voted in favor of the contract, was running unopposed, that was that.

Although it’s Hatley’s first time running for office, he is no stranger to the public square or stirring up trouble. Hatley is the executive producer of the Bubba the Love Sponge Radio Show. The show’s had its fair share of run-ins with the FCC and various radio managers.

The city council elections are non-partisan, but Hatley makes his libertarian positions well-known.

“All the problems the city is facing, there are free market solutions for, and that’s what I’m offering,” Hatley said. “Not nanny solutions.”

Hatley says, if elected, he’ll work to roll back onerous rules and regulations, rather than the current councilors who Hatley says are “looking to tax and fine and fee their way out of the recession.”

Since he started running, Hatley has delved into city politics and found more than red light cameras to rail against.

“There’s 141 city employees that make over $100,000 a year, and they all get a car allowance,” Hatley said. “I’ve since found out that some of them don’t even drive.”

Or a city ordinance that doesn’t allow more than 50 people to gather in a public park.

Or the city’s bidding process, which Hatley calls “completely screwed up.”

“My goal is to make government neutral in the marketplace of ideas and business,” he said.

Hatley has been campaigning through a mix of traditional door-knocking and shoe-leather and using social media tools.

“People have a perception of me based on my radio personality, but once they meet me in person they really not only like me but have been vocal in supporting me,” Hatley said. “I think we’re going to see an upset tonight of an incumbent.”

Polls closed tonight in Florida at 7 p.m. The Daily Caller will update the story as the results roll in.

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C.J. Ciaramella