West Tampa votes for a new state representative

02/23/10 Joshua Lee Holton
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Today was Election Day for some in Tampa. State Rep. Michael Scionti left a State House seat open after he accepted an appointment to the Department of Defense last year. District 58 has since needed representation in his absence, so three candidates are running to fill the seat.

Here we go, West Tampa! Are you ready to vote today?

That was Jose Vazquez, a Democratic write-in candidate for the election. He advocates for reforming the Department of Corrections, and has given up his job to campaign full time. Vazquez was visiting the polls today, and was trying to make a connection with voters.

When my opponents spend a lot of money in the media, during [the] campaign, I’ll be on the street where the people are, looking for solution. This morning, I was in the courthouse. Why? Because it’s the only place where you can reach close to 2,000 person in less than two hours. All the place where I go and do my campaign, is in the workforce. Guess what? It’s a lot of unemployed people who go over there looking for solution, and that’s the reason why you see me.

There was dense foggy weather when the polls opened, which may have deterred many from voting early today. But now that the skies have cleared up, the supervisor of elections, Earl Lennard, is optimistic that voters from District 58 will turn out to the polls after work. Republican candidate Hunter Chamberlin is running for the seat, and wants to bring small businesses from out of state to Florida as his plan for job creation.

One of a number of things that I’ve talked about is incentivizing businesses to come into the state, and set up shop in the state of Florida, and bring with them many jobs. And I think that would be a boost to the Florida economy. And there have been a lot of programs that other states have engaged in that have done that, and they’ve been very successful in doing that. And I think Florida could look at some of those other states and see how they’ve done it, and maybe follow their lead.

There are 64,195 voters in State House District 58, and a majority of them are registered as Democrats. Combined with more funding, and endorsements, this gives Democratic candidate Janet Cruz an advantage over her opponents. Cruz is concerned about the economy, and says that creating jobs is a major priority. Unlike Chamberlin, she opposes offshore drilling because she says it poses a potential threat to the state economy.

I was born in Tampa, as were my parents and my grandparents. If our beaches are important to you, then I am the candidate that you should vote for. I am the candidate that opposes offshore drilling, and will continue to oppose offshore drilling. My opponent is in favor of drilling, and putting oil rigs on the beaches. What we have to do is decide whether we’re a tourist-based economy, or whether we’re an oil-based economy. The two cannot coexist. I believe that we’re a tourist-based economy.

U.S. House Reps. Kathy Castor and Kendrick Meek have endorsed Cruz. Carlton Lofton is a Democrat, who supports Cruz for being a South Tampa native.

She know what our community needs. She’s out here, South Tampa resident, and I think that she would do a pretty good job.

Lofton is voting for Cruz, because he says she has been the most visible in the community.

I’m a Democrat; my wife is a Republican. But she doesn’t know anything about this other guy, either—I mean, the opponent, either. So she’s going to be voting Democratic this time.

Tampa City Council member John Dingfelder was campaigning for Cruz outside a polling center, and said jobs will be a major issue this election.

Jobs are number one right now. I think every branch of government, including our local government, and Tallahassee, and Washington, all need to do everything they can to get people back to work.

But although Chamberlin also promotes small-business incentives, Dingfelder says Cruz is what Tallahassee really needs, since she has been so active in the community.

The low voter turn out has meant a smooth day for poll workers, and Earl Lennard says today will help prepare for the fall.

*I think this is a great, extraordinarily good experience for us, warming up, going into the 2010 primary August 24, and of course the general election November second. And so I think this is a good exercise.

As of about 3 p.m. today, only about 2 percent of eligible voters turned out at the polls. To find out more, go to www.Votehillsborough.org to locate your precinct.

Previous WMNF coverage of District 58 special election: Special Election for State House District 58 seat Tuesday

Previous WMNF coverage of District 58 special election: District 58 write in candidate Jose Vazquez hopes for a shot at Tallahassee

Previous WMNF coverage of District 58 special election: District 58 primary voters turn out to select nominees

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