Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Politics

Hey congressional candidates: What have you done for Pinellas County?

David Jolly and Kathleen Peters make the same claim as they run for the Republican nomination for Congress:

I get things done for Pinellas County.

But the two candidates with a similar pitch have vastly different experience.

Peters, 52, has lived in Pinellas County 28 years and has worked her way up from South Pasadena City Council, to mayor, to state representative. She's a married mother of four and has been vice president of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Jolly, 41, has local roots but spent much of his career in Washington as an aide to Pinellas County's longtime Republican U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young. Jolly, in the process of a divorce, has also been a Washington-based attorney, lobbyist and consultant, and says in all these roles he was working on projects for Pinellas County residents and businesses. He has lived in Indian Shores since 2006.

Both say their experience has prepared them best for the job of going to Washington to represent the people of Congressional District 13, which extends from south Pinellas to Dunedin, with portions of southern and downtown St. Petersburg cut out.

Which led the Tampa Bay Times to ask a question: What have you done for Pinellas County?

Jolly and Peters agreed to give the Times their lists.

Mark Bircher, 60, also is seeking the Republican nomination, and he can cite some significant public service as well. Bircher, a retired Marine Corps Reserve brigadier general, was recalled twice to active duty since 2003, including one tour in Iraq. But he acknowledges Pinellas County accomplishments are not the biggest part of his campaign. Therefore, this article focuses on Jolly and Peters.

Kathleen Peters

1. Helped design and obtain funding for a YMCA program in roughly 2003-07 that taught Pinellas middle school students how to mediate conflicts. The idea was to help youths learn constructive ways of solving problems — instead of through fights.

2. Helped a teen youth council in 2000 obtain financing and support for drug-free, alcohol-free, youth-run teen center at a Boys & Girls Club in Pinellas Park.

3. Successfully fought as a state legislator last year for a bill, which had been debated for years, that means condominium associations no longer have to pay the state rent for the submerged land under their docks.

4. Fought for funding and support for St. Petersburg College's Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics. She calls the center an economic engine that provides "destination education" — bringing people to Pinellas County as they study in that field.

5. Helped Clearwater obtain designation as a "Coast Guard City," documenting the city's support of the Coast Guard for its public safety efforts and local presence.

David Jolly

1. In 2008, helped found Florida Federal Contractors Association, designed to help high-tech and defense companies with a presence in Pinellas, as they compete for federal work. It is now merging with a statewide organization.

2. As an individual has provided several charitable contributions to "wounded warriors," military families and others — including many referrals from Rep. Young.

3. Is chairman of the Board of Adjustment in Indian Shores, which handles individual citizens' concerns regarding zoning regulations.

4. In private practice, worked to assist local high-tech and defense companies as they sought government contracts. An example: a General Dynamics contract for a Special Operations vehicle called the Flyer.

5. As an aide to Young, worked on numerous local projects, including financing for U.S. 19 improvements, the Treasure Island Bridge, beach renourishment, Operation PAR and what is now the C.W. Bill Young Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (formerly Bay Pines).

Whoever wins the GOP nomination Jan. 14 will go on to face Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 general election.

The congressional seat became open after Young died in October.

Contact Curtis Krueger at [email protected] or (727) 893-8232. Twitter: @ckruegertimes.

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