Ellsworth G. Simmons Good Government Award

The Ellsworth G. Simmons Good Government Award honors a current or former government official or civic leader for improving government through leadership and vision. The award is typically presented at a regular Board meeting in April.

About the 2017 recipient

The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners presented the 2017 Ellsworth G. Simmons Good Government Award to Rubin E. Padgett, a former Hillsborough County Commissioner. The presentation was held on Wednesday, April 5, in the County Center Boardroom.

A native of Tampa, Mr. Padgett was the first African-American elected to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners in 1985. He served two terms that initiated many changes countywide, including the construction of three libraries in his district. Additionally, he led the Board of County Commissioners as its first African-American chairman. He also served as a member of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, more than 20 years on the Board of the Tampa Housing Authority, and as a trustee on the boards of Tampa General Hospital and the University of South Florida.

Florida Gov. Rubin Askew appointed Mr. Padgett to the State Licensure Board of Nursing Home Administrators. He was reappointed by Gov. Bob Graham, and went on to serve as secretary and chairman. Mr. Padgett was also appointed to the Federal Health Care Association under President Jimmy Carter, and helped to formulate the Federal Bill of Rights for Nursing Home patients.

About Ellsworth G. Simmons

A respected government civic leader, Mr. Simmons was a School Board member who went on to serve 21 years on the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners - 18 of those as chair. Through his leadership and guidance, new institutions - University of South Florida - and new communities - Sun City Center - were created in Hillsborough County. He was a central figure in the construction of Tampa International Airport, the founding of University Community Hospital, and the expansion of the Hillsborough County Health Department.

Selection Process

Each winter, a Good Government Award Committee examines the significant events, leadership opportunities and outstanding achievements of nominees and selects an individual or group. The committee submits its recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners for approval.

The Good Government Award Committee consists of nine members, two members representing the Simmons family and one member chosen by each commissioner.

Award Recipients

  • 2017 - Rubin E. Padgett 
  • 2016 - Jan Kaminis Platt
  • 2015 - Former Governor Bob Martinez
  • 2014 - Doug Belden
  • 2013 - Former Mayor Pam Iorio
  • 2012 - Dr. Judy Genshaft
  • 2011 - Dottie Berger MacKinnon
  • 2010 - Pat Frank
  • 2009 - Dr. Earl J. Lennard
  • 2008 - Judge E.J. Salcines
  • 2007 - Cal Henderson
  • 2006 - Louis E. Miller
  • 2005 - H. Lee Moffitt
  • 2004 - H. L. Culbreath
  • 2003 - Former Mayor Dick Greco
  • 2002 - Save Our Bays, Air & Canals
  • 2001 - Former State Sen. Malcom E. Beard
  • 2000 - State Sen. Tom Lee
  • 1999 - James L. Redman
  • 1998 - Nettie Mae Draughon
  • 1997 - Sam M. Gibbons