SEMINOLE — Larry Ahern, who's running for House District 51, sees himself as a "kind of grumpy Republican" who is concerned about the lack of leadership in Tallahassee.
"I've been looking in the community for a way to serve," Ahern said last week. He made his comments to the editorial board of the St. Petersburg Times.
When he met Democrat Janet Long, the District 51 incumbent, Ahern decided he had found his place.
"She seems to be antibusiness," Ahern said. "I don't see" that Long has made any efforts to promote or create an environment to encourage job creation. Ahern said he also offers voters a more conservative alternative on social issues.
Among Ahern's positions:
• "Unemployment compensation needs to run out. … Everybody needs to be looking for work."
• The problem of bad teachers needs to be addressed. In private schools, bad teachers can be fired, but that does not happen in public schools because of tenure and other issues.
• The state needs to get out of the property insurance business. Private property insurers have been driven out of the state. They need to be encouraged to come back.
• Neither high-speed nor light rail should be pursued right now. "Trains are losers, we know that. … It just seems to me to be the wrong time to put Florida in a deeper hole."
Ahern, 55, is a Detroit native who moved to the St. Petersburg area after a stint in the Air Force. At 26, he started his own company, a swimming pool maintenance business, Tyrone Discount Pool Supplies. He sold the company after 20 years and now owns a swimming pool remodeling and commercial fountain business.
Ahern serves on St. Petersburg's Nuisance Abatement Board, the Pinellas Sheriff's Advisory Board, the Swimming Pool Board for Examining, Adjustments and Appeals for Pinellas County, and the Pastoral Council of St. Jude the Apostle Cathedral.
He is married and has three daughters.
District 51 covers Seminole, South Pasadena and parts of Largo, St. Petersburg and the unincorporated Lealman area.
Also running is Victoria Torres, an Orlando resident, who is a member of the tea party.
Reach Anne Lindberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450.