Kemp, Sanchez make their pitches to young Democrats
Pat Kemp and Gil Sanchez, two Democrats vying to replace Michael Scionti as the state House representative for District 58, were guest speakers at the Hillsborough County Young Democrats club last night. Sanchez talked about his "Triangle of Prosperity" platform, that has public safety, education and economic development as its three sides. He also talked about collecting sales taxes for Internet transactions, and boosting research and development at state universities to build a more educated work force. Kemp, who's taking a leave of absence as the county party chairman to run for office, talked about protecting the Hillsborough River and saving historic homes in her Seminole Heights neighborhood as a community activist.
She also had to field a question about whether she can win a district that has a large Hispanic population. Some of Kemp's critics have said the seat should go to someone of Latin descent. In response, Kemp said she thought the election of Barack Obama showed voters care more about what unites them than what divides them. And she highlighted her work in the Hispanic communities of West Tampa and Town 'N Country when she was a legislative aide to then-Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor. And she finished her response with this: "I want to make sure I learn better Spanish."
Sanchez said, "I kind of feel bad for Pat" for taking so much heat on the Hispanic issue. Voters, he said, should choose the best candidate and not consider race or ethnicity. On the other hand, he noted, the district does have a large Hispanic population. "They speak both languages. And some feel more comfortable speaking Spanish," he said. "I think that's where a lot of this is brewing up." Sanchez said his own platform is for everyone. "It's not a Hispanic agenda. It's not a minority agenda," he said.
Janet Cruz is also vying for the Democratic nomination. She was in Tallahassee on Tuesday. The special primary election is Jan. 26.
Janet Zink, Times staff writer