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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

House District 70 candiates square off at forum



Members of Suncoast Tiger Bay learned Friday that two of the three men vying to represent Florida’s House District 70 candidates hold licenses to carry concealed weapons.

Former St. Petersburg council member Wengay Newton and businessman Dan Fiorini both told the political club they hold the license. Attorney Christopher “CJ” Czaia said he does not hold one.

The three men couldn’t delve deep into issues at the political debate as they split time with candidates running for Senate District 19.

Still,during the 75-minute forum, Newton, Czaia and Fiorini shared similar views on questions about Republican candidate Donald Trump and restoring voting rights for felons. Neither man supports Trump, and all three believe felons should have the right to vote after paying their debts to society.

Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch asked the men to explain the pressing issue in the district, which sprawls over parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota and Manatee counties. The largest block of voters resides in the southern neighborhoods of St. Petersburg.

“We need to radically think how we can change things,” Czaia said, noting the district faces systemic oppression in education and employment opportunities and the justice system.

Fiorini pointed to jobs, education and healthcare. “There is not one priority,” he said, adding the some of the state’s wealthiest and poorest residents live in the district. “There are a bunch of priorities.”

Newton, who served eight years on City Council, cited the eight years he represented some of the city’s poorest residents.

I’ve “been on the battlefield for eight years already doing that. Education is going to be the key.”

The legislative seat is now occupied by Darryl Rouson, who is seeking a state Senate seat. The Democratic winner will face Republican Cori Fournier in November.

Fiorini, who often pushes a stroller with his 13-year-old dachshund, told the political club that he couldn’t bring Rolf Pierre to the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

“He’s out on the campaign trail,” Fiorini joked about the dog.


[Last modified: Friday, July 15, 2016 2:38pm]


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