Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bell Shoals Baptist Church draws candidates, voters to forum

BRANDON — All of them stumped on their qualifications.

Many recited laundry lists of endorsements. And about half of the 43 candidates who visited Bell Shoals Baptist Church on Tuesday night for the 20th installment of the church's nonpartisan forum invoked a nod to Christianity.

Candidates for federal, state and local offices meandered through two-minute speeches, highlighting their stances and, in many cases, reiterating Christian values in front of more than 600 note-taking attendees.

The session allowed voters to meet and greet candidates for an hour, then listen to their quips. The candidates, including gubernatorial Republican hopeful Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder and Libertarian Adrian Wyllie, often injected one-liners and humor to stand out in a crowded field of mostly Republicans.

Adam Putnam, who is seeking re-election as Florida's commissioner of agriculture, elicited cheers when he ended his speech by barking, "Don't let our state turn into California with this marijuana initiative."

County Commissioner Victor Crist wanted to make sure everyone knew he was running for re-election, not seeking another office.

"I'm Victor Crist," he said. "Not Charlie. Please don't get your Crists crossed."

In the Aug. 26 primary for the District 4 Board of County Commissioners seat that Democrats and Independents are locked out of, all three Republican front-runners spoke.

Retired Air Force veteran and Tampa Police detective Rick Cochran said he has made 20,000 door-to-door visits.

Janet Dougherty described herself as a "lifelong born-again Christian" whose "most important support comes from God."

Stacy White, a member of the Hillsborough County School Board who also is running for the District 4 seat, hung his hat on his 2012 objection to classroom speakers from the Council for American-Islamic Relations.

"I stood with you when a radical Islamic group tried to speak at our schools," White said.

Most candidates also submitted answers to a 16-question survey designed by the Bell Shoals Community Issues Team. Don Kruse was the only GOP candidate to come out in favor of legalized marijuana, say Obamacare should not be repealed and argue that the 2008 Florida Defense of Marriage Amendment should not be enforced.

Robin Lester was the only candidate in the forum to favor the Common Core State Standards Initiative and favor special rights and protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, according to the survey.

Eric Vician can be reached at

Know your candidates

The SouthShore & Brandon Times section will present its Know Your Candidates special edition Aug. 15. Our guide will help voters make an informed decision by providing a look at the candidates in all races on the Aug. 26 ballot and where they stand on the issues.

Bell Shoals Baptist Church draws candidates, voters to forum 08/07/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 7, 2014 10:25am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries


    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?



    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.