Incumbent state rep. Ed Hooper debates education spending with opponent, Democrat Ben Farrell

10/24/12 Janelle Irwin
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Two candidates for Florida House District 67 are vying to represent Clearwater residents. Democrat Ben Farrell is challenging Republican incumbent Ed Hooper. Farrell is calling attention to his opponent’s 6-year tenure as a state Representative saying that Hooper is no longer effective.

“He doesn’t pass anything remarkable. He goes along to get along. I say that not to disrespect my opponent, but to point out the obvious fact that bureaucrats do have a sell-by date. At a certain point you get cozy with special interests in into the leadership and their interests are at odds with ours. So, at that point they fail to represent us effectively and if it’s two years or four years or six years, that’s when it’s time to go and I believe that it’s time for a change.”

The candidates fielded questions from members of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club this month where education spending was a hot topic. Hooper said that’s something he thinks needs to be a priority in the state budget.

“Some of the folks sitting at this table right here can move to Georgia and make $8,000 a year more teaching our kids than they can in Florida. That’s disgraceful.”

Farrell agreed with his opponent that more money needs to be put into Florida’s public schools, but called Hooper out for not having done much about it so far.

“Teachers in this state make, on average, $10,000 less than the national average, but I haven’t been in Tallahassee making the law for 6 years. So, I think it’s time that somebody actually do something about that and I’m your guy.”

But Hooper argued that $1 billion was put back into the system this year and pointed out that it’s not always as black and white as just deciding to spend more money.

“You know, I have to make a decision about the education funding verses which old people get kicked out of the nursing homes or which developmentally disabled kids no longer have any services. It’s not easy, it’s tough.”

Ben Farrell is a small business owner running a family restaurant in Clearwater. If elected, Ed Hooper will serve his final two years in the House before being term-limited out. The general election for this race is November 6, but voters can cast their ballots now by going to the Supervisor of Elections office and requesting a mail in ballot.

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