About Mariella Smith

Candidate for Hillsborough County Commission

Countywide (District 5)

Countywide History

A fourth-generation Tampa native with a Cuban mother and midwestern father, I grew up in Tampa’s wonderful mix of cultures. My husband Tres & I bought our first home in Temple Terrace, then moved to our current home in Ruskin, at the mouth of the Little Manatee River. I love our county’s wide range of lifestyles, from historic urban neighborhoods to charming suburban and rural communities, each rich in their own unique character; and I will continue working to maintain all of these distinct lifestyle options.

I have bicycled, kayaked, hiked and camped all over Hillsborough County, and I cherish every bit of it. I am fiercely protective of our natural areas and wildlife from the Tampa Bay shorelines, teeming with fish and birdlife, to the quiet lakes and rivers, to the majestic cypress swamps and pine scrubs that are home to wildlife found only in Florida.

Countywide Experience

I’ve worked on transportation plans and growth plans, and I’ve stood up for community plans from Ruskin & Wimauma to Keystone & Lutz. I’ve worked to protect our environment from Cone Ranch to Cockroach Bay. I’ve worked for safe bicycle trails from South County to Downtown Tampa. Because of my wide-ranging experience as a community leader, I was appointed by the County Commission to the Hillsborough County Economic Prosperity Stakeholder Committee to help implement countywide economic policies.

Countywide Goals

I have years of experience speaking before the County Commission as a citizen advocate on county-wide issues that impact our neighborhoods, our quality of life and our environment. I have studied and learned and been deep in the weeds of county policy-making. I know we can all have a better future if we move beyond the tired old ways that career politicians keep pushing on behalf of the special interests that want to keep them in office — even beyond their term-limited time. I know we can all prosper if we embrace 21st-century solutions for smart growth, transit-oriented development and modern, multi-modal transportation options, and tie them to better economic policies, more responsible use of taxpayer dollars, sustainable green technologies and environmental protection.

My goals are our goals — not the lobbyists’ and cronys’ goals. I know that working together we can make this county a better place to live, work, play and raise a family.

Mariella Smith for Hillsborough County Commission

Awards & Recognition

Citizen Planning Advocacy Award
by the American Planning Assoc. Suncoast Section, for advocating for smart growth management and organizing public participation in community planning

“with a deep desire to improve her community … Mariella Smith has become one of the strongest voices in south Hillsborough for environmental protection, protection of the Little Manatee River and protection of the community character in Ruskin.”

Hillsborough County Planning Commission Chairman’s Award
with the leaders of United Citizens Action Network

“This dedicated group of citizens actively participate in the governing process by ensuring that the voice of Hillsborough County residents are heard and considered in all planning decisions. They believe growth should not be viewed as uncontrollable, and Hillsborough County should accommodate only planned growth which does not unreasonably increase our existing tax burden, or decrease our quality of life.”

“The Green 100” — One of Tampa Bay’s 100 green leaders
by Creative Loafing

“Smith is a tireless and thorough documenter of efforts to gut growth laws and harm the environment in Hillsborough. Her stories about the County Commission’s ongoing growth management dismantling and kowtowing to powerful developers are as good as any investigative journalism you’ll find around these parts.”

Sierra Club — Several awards

The Tampa Bay group’s highest award, the Black Bear Award, as well as other Sierra Club awards, at the state & local levels, for environmental advocacy.

Hillsborough County Certificates of Appreciation

For work on the Economic Prosperity Stakeholder Committee and other community efforts.

Past community service experience
  • Hillsborough County Economic Prosperity Stakeholder Committee (County Commission appointee)
  • Tampa Bay Sierra Club, Growth Management Chair
  • Hillsborough County Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee (County Commission appointee)
  • SWFWMD Environmental Advisory Committee (SWFWMD appointee)
  • Ruskin Community Development Foundation, Director
  • Table Official for Wheelchair Rugby — National, International & Paralympics. Led yearly training for Hillsborough County staff for Tampa’s annual international Wheelchair Rugby tournament.
Business Experience

I’ve owned & operated my own business, InSight Graphic Design, since 1988. As a web developer, I am active in local tech groups.


B.A., University of Tampa, Philosophy
M.A., F.S.U., Philosophy majoring in Ethics. At F.S.U. I taught Ethics & Logic classes, and I helped organize an International Congress on Human Rights, and edited a book that came out of that in 4 languages.