FL Sen. Jack Latvala defends new Senate redistricting map proposals
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11/30/11 Josh Holton
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He’s a moderate Republican, but State Senator Jack Latvala says he’s anything but liberal. He was the keynote speaker at today’s Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, and the newly proposed Senate redistricting maps may have him scouting Pinellas County for a new district.

About a decade ago Latvala termed out of the state senate, and in the 2010 midterm elections became the first politician to go back for new seat after doing so. He said that he regretted voting for term limits during his first term.

He’s gained his reputation for rebelling against initiatives by Republicans and Tea Party members, and he said that his disagreement with a Republican proposal prompted him to run in 2010.

The winning question during the luncheon came from Harvey Landress, who asked the senator if he considered himself to be more of a Republican or a Democrat.

Another audience member asked Latvala how he thought Governor Rick Scott is doing compared the past several Republican Governors, and former Democratic Governor Buddy MacKay. Latvala said he couldn’t remember his opinion of MacKay, but said Scott is doing okay.

On Monday the Florida Senate released newly proposed redistricting maps, which Democratic Party leaders have criticized for favoring Republicans. Latvala defended the maps.

He asserted that the proposed map preserves many political boundaries in Pinellas county.

District 11* is likely to become a major point of contention, according to Latvala, because he says it includes both parts of Tampa and St. Petersburg.

According to the new maps, if he were to run again for his current district (16), Latvala would need to go back to some of his old stomping grounds, where the constituency he answered to during his first two terms is located. But he said it still means going back to the drawing board for his next campaign.

But he said he’s not worried about which district he’ll run for, because, he has plenty of options as far as his residency is concerned.

Latvala is also chair of the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation, and he held a public hearing today, where he proposed a consolidation of Emergency Management Services. But he said that county responsiveness to auto accidents needs to be weighed with the county budget.

When it comes to the state budget, Latvala said that all the fat has been trimmed, and any more budget cuts would begin to affect the muscle and bones of the economy. But St. Petersburg City Council member Wengay Newton said that while Latvala’s consolidation proposal is efficient, local budget cuts don’t reflect a desire for quality service.

Latvala said that the last time Pinellas County had a Senate President was in 1925, a fact that he hopes to change, if he gets elected for a second term next year.

*Under the proposed maps it's actually called District 18. It encompasses portions of the City of Tampa and the City of St. Petersburg.

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