Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Candidates for Florida House District 54

The House District 54 race pits a veteran incumbent, Republican stalwart James C. "Jim" Frishe, against former Pinellas County School Board lightning rod Mary Russell, a Democrat. Frishe served for six years in a Pinellas Park-based House district in the 1980s. The voters returned him to office in 2006, when he won in an upset over the son of state Sen. Dennis Jones. He cruised to re-election in 2008 and now seeks a third term. Russell says Democratic leaders recruited her to run. During her tenure on the School Board from 2002 until 2006, she repeatedly clashed with other board members and the superintendent. The two candidates agree on some issues — for instance, they both oppose near-shore oil drilling.

About the job: House District 54 stretches up the western portion of Pinellas along the beaches from Tierra Verde to Clearwater. State representatives serve two-year terms and are paid $29,697 a year.

More about these candidates

James "Jim" Frishe, 61

Real estate broker
R Mary Russell, 39

U.S. Navy Reserve
Frishe was born in New York but has lived in Florida since 1956. He has worked as an insurance agency manager as well as in affordable-housing investments and a cell phone tower business. He served in the House from 1984 to 1990 and first won his current seat in 2006. Experience Russell is a former classroom teacher and for the past 12 years has been a Navy reservist. She was born in Oklahoma but her family moved to Pinellas County when she was 2. She served on the Pinellas County School Board from 2002 to 2006.
Associate's degree, Andrew College, bachelor's degree, University of Florida Education Associate's degree, St. Petersburg Junior College, bachelor's degree, University of South Florida
"I think that local government and regional interlocal agreements between governments for large developments should be the norm. Local people generally know more about local conditions than a planner in an office in Tallahassee." How should Florida deal with its future growth and planning needs? Are state laws too lax? "I support planned development that meets the needs of the community and respects the natural environment. Developers should have to submit a plan that demonstrates sustainability as well as economic viability."
"No amount of tax increases will cover the deficit. The answer lies in getting the economy moving again. That means simplifying processes where government interfaces with the business world/consumers and reducing the tax burden. We need to encourage a climate that draws other businesses to the state." Florida faces a $6 billion budget shortfall next year. What would you do about that? "For me balancing the budget would begin with repealing what I call 'GOP re-elect me' legislation. Tax holidays, Bright Futures, vouchers, the FCAT: any and all legislation that sucks money from the general revenue fund and/or state constitutionally mandated responsibilities would be on the table."
"The state may need to consider pricing water as a commodity, so that demand can be properly assessed and managed. Heavier demand users such as agriculture need to move to more efficient use, and residential customers need to realize there is a cost to wasteful water use that goes beyond their current bill." How should Florida provide for its future water use needs? "Better development planning would have helped the situation .?. . We need to do our best not to exceed the natural resources available to us in any given area . . . Individuals can be incentivized to conserve water and education campaigns can help them reduce and reuse when appropriate."
Real estate business, car, home in St. Petersburg Assets Car, home in Seminole
None Liabilities None
Real estate, development, consulting and legislative salary Income U.S. Navy reserve job at MacDill Air Force Base
Married since 1996 to Susan Burnett. Five children. His hobbies are growing roses and rooting for the Rays. Personal Married since 1992 to James P. Russell. Two children. Her hobbies include triathlon training and reading. Website E-mail

Candidates for Florida House District 54 10/12/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 10:56am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mayor: Men stabbed after anti-Muslin rant died as 'heroes' (w/video)


    PORTLAND, Ore. — Police said Saturday they'll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of an Oregon man accused of fatally stabbing two men who tried to intervene when the suspect yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.

    A sign of thanks rests against a traffic light pole at a memorial outside the transit center on Saturday in Portland, Ore. [Associated Press]
  2. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  3. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Wing Jonathan Drouin could be the only piece that Tampa Bay has to acquire a badly needed top-tier defenseman.
  4. Ryan Hunter-Reay running strong as he seeks a second Indianapolis 500 title

    Auto racing

    Ryan Hunter-Reay isn't a big jewelry fan.

    Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won Indy in 2014, is a contender for a second title in today’s 101st running. He qualified 10th, had the third-fastest practice lap and his team is looking strong.
  5. As Trump's overseas trip ends, crisis grows at home (w/video)


    President Donald Trump headed home Saturday to confront a growing political and legal threat, as his top aides tried to contain the fallout from reports that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is a focus of investigations into possible collusion between Russia and the president's campaign and transition teams.

    President Donald Trump waves as he exits Marine One on Saturday at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy. After a nine-day trip overseas, the president is returning to Washington.