Dawson running hard for Legislature

08/19/08 Mitch E. Perry
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It’s just a week away from Florida’s Aug. 26 primary and the campaign is in full gear.

On Saturday around noon, Tampa citizen Joe Brown was trying to persuade a motorist pulling up at the corner of Osborne and East 22nd Street in East Tampa to vote for House candidate Warren Dawson. The heat and humidity were stifling, but Brown says he believes in his friend.

Brown and another friend were helping out Dawson, a Democrat running against incumbent Betty Reed. Dawson himself was engaging voters, distributing literature and encouraging them to do early voting.

Florida’s House District 59 cuts through much of the East Tampa. The mostly black district has been represented in Tallahasee the last two years by longtime activist and educator Betty Reed, who beat Hakim Acquil in 2006.

This summer, Dawson is again challenging Reed. The 68-year-old Tampa attorney was a leading force in desegregating Hillsborough County schools.

Dawson has been criticizing Betty Reed, who he says has not adequately represented District 59.

Last month, three Hillsborough County school were among 13 statewide targeted statewise for possible closing a year from now because their students have been the lowest performing in the state. They include Franklin Middle and Sulpher Springs Elemenetary.

Dawson was speaking out side of Middleton High on Saturday, which was a historic black high school created in the 1930s but forced to close in 1971 under a federal desegregation order. It re-opened in 2002.

Superintendent MaryEllen Elia said she will step up efforts at the underperforming schools and has no plans to close them or turn them into charter schools.

Dawson says the idea of closing schools for continued underperformance is just wrong.

We won’t know until next week if Warren Dawson will be successful next week. But under the burning sun on Saturday, just getting positive feedback from the community seemed to be worth it for the longtime attorney.

WMNF will speak with Warren Dawson’s opponent, Betty Reed, on tomorrow night’s newscast.

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