HOUSE DISTRICT 52 DEBATE-Andrew Stelzer

10/07/04

Florida's House District 52 includes most of Northeast St. Petersburg and extends west through Pinellas Park and Largo. Today, The candidates running to represent district 52 in the Florida house held a debate for the suncoast tiger bay club at the yacht club in downtown St Pete. WMNF’s Andrew Stelzer was there and filed this report.

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ACT--McCollum ‘this race offers choice between failures and hope. You have failed.

Liz McCallum is an author and citizens advocate who 1999 she lead the Women’s Appointment Project which helped over 7,000 women submit applications to government boards and commissions in California, she says one of her main goals is to get regular people involved in running for office. ACT You have accepted contributions, voted against constituents best interest—mammogram coverage, patients rights, drugs, you have shirked your responsibilities.�

McCallum said that she moved to St Petersburg , not only because she liked the city, but because she knew it was one of the few legislative districts that is competitive between republicans and democrats. She’s running against the incumbent Frank Farkus, who has served 6 years in the house so far, if he’s reelected it will be his last term. During the question and answer session, Farkas was repeatedly questioned about his support of outgoing speaker of the Florida house Johnnie Byrd, who at the beginning of this year’s term, called his fellow republican house members sheep waiting to be told what to do.

ACT “were you one of the sheep---yes but not one of the black sheep…I was not part of his inner circle, but I was one of his chairman…we disagreed behind the scenes..�

ACT “you and I agree on some issues not others, but were public servants, how could you as a public servant could support Johnnie Byrd for senate…he was the air apparent. He does hold all their powers. I said I would support him, I disagreed with him, but not to the point where it was sufficient to take away my support for him. I have issues with hi, but I gave my word, you saw my contribution.

McCollum said some of her priorities would be to work to keep the price of healthcare down, increase funding of kidcare, and give tax incentives to businesses to stay in the area and not go overseas. She said that living through all of the issues that face Americans caused her to take her own advice and run for office.

ACT We’ve all read new reports about people laid off, without insurance, and seniors and these stories were about my family, my husband lost his job, we lost our healthcare insurance, and my mom had stopped taking medication because she couldn’t afford it. But I will never forget this experience. It’s hard to stand by and do nothing. I realized that I have had enough of reading the newspapers, enough of legislators who catered to lobbyists, and enough of sitting on the side lines and complaining�

One person asked Frank Farkas if he thinks voters should support an initiative on the ballot, which would raise money for the Pinellas county schools through a tax increase.

ACT ‘I’m not going to tell you how to vote locally that’s a private issue.�

Farkas was also asked about his support for Terry's law, which gave the governor power to order a brain-dead woman to have her feeding tube reinserted.

ACT ‘on one had we knew that law was gonna be rules unconstitutional, but the governor makes the decision that people live and die.

WMNF asked Frank Farkas what he thinks it means to be a republican.

ACT ‘I think our number one position is protection security, after that we work on healthcare or education, if people can destroy us top priority.

One citizen asked the candidates if they change one thing in Floirda what would it be. Farkas said he would provide healthcare to everyone, but McCollum said she would revamp the state political system.

ACT “part of the reason I think things are so lopsided in Tallahassee is because of gerrymandering,

WMNF asked McCallum, who said some of her political role models are Lawton Chiles and Bob graham how she could affect a state legislature thats so corrupted by business interests and divided along political lines. ACT “it is true that when I win I will be in the minority so I cant shepherd legislation, but I will be for better government, there is too much you scratch my back ill scratch yours. We need debate.�

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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