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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hayden riffs on state Senate race issues



Underdog Nina Hayden, a Democrat running for for the Florida Senate’s District 16 seat, spoke on a wide range of topics during a visit this morning with the St. Petersburg Times’ editorial board. Among them: the state budget, property insurance, immigration and health care.

But she was most comfortable speaking about education, which was to be expected, given that the 36-year-old attorney is a member of the Pinellas County School Board.

She spoke of her support of a plan to ensure that students all over the county have access to popular district programs, including the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and fundamental schools. And she talked about her experience mentoring students at the district’s alternative high school, Bayside, which sits across the street from the public defender’s office where she works.

“A district is only as good as hot it serves its most challenging students,” Hayden told the editorial board.

If elected, she said she will continue to advocate for education in Tallahassee. She believes there should be more local control of school districts, and she’d like to explore ways to reduce the state’s dropout rate.

Hayden, however, is considered a longshot to win the seat. Her Republican opponent is Jack Latvala, who served in the Senate from 1994-2002. Latvala holds large leads in fundraising and endorsements in the race to replace Democrat Charlie Justice, who’s running for Congress. District 16 includes a large portion of Pinellas County, east of U.S. 19, and parts of Hillsborough County, stretching from south Tampa to Westchase.

Richard Martin, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Thursday, September 30, 2010 2:07pm]


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