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Candidates for agriculture and consumer services

Commissioner of agriculture and consumer services

The race for agriculture commissioner pits Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam of Bartow against Democrat Scott Maddox, a former Tallahassee mayor and chairman of the Florida Democratic Party. Putnam, who holds a wide financial advantage, stresses a background in agriculture, while Maddox says he will be a watchdog for consumers. Other candidates include Ira Chester, a retired state employee from Tallahassee running as a candidate of the Tea Party of Florida. He has done little campaigning and has no website. State records show he contributed $50 to Maddox's campaign in 2009 and donated to his previous campaigns for governor and attorney general. Thad Hamilton of Sunrise, who earned the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army and retired from a career with the Agriculture Department, is running as a candidate with no party affiliation. His campaign website is

About the job: The commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, elected to a four-year term, heads the agency that regulates agriculture industries and ensures Florida food products are safe. The department also collects and investigates consumer complaints and licenses professionals in several industries, and issues concealed weapon permits. The commissioner sits with the governor, chief financial officer and attorney general as the Florida Cabinet, with authority including inmate clemency, development, planning, water regulation, tax collection, environmental protection, state lands and insurance regulation. Salary: $128,972.

More about these candidates

Scott Maddox, 42

D Adam Putnam, 36

U.S. representative
Experience While still in law school, Maddox was elected to the Tallahassee City Commission and became the city's first elected mayor in 1996. He became president of the Florida League of Cities, which lobbies the state and federal government. In 2003, he served as the chairman of the Florida Democratic Party and later formed a law firm with former legislator Mallory Horne. In 2002, Maddox ran for attorney general, and made an abbreviated bid for governor in 2005. Putnam, who lives in Bartow, was first elected to the Florida House at age 22. He served four years before he was elected to Congress in 2001. In Washington, Putnam was the third-ranking Republican in the House. He touts his work on the 2008 farm bill as well as a bipartisan food safety reform bill. He also helped draft reforms on congressional earmarks. When he entered the race, he described the state economy as a three-legged stool standing on agriculture, tourism and construction, and said he hopes to ensure farming remains stable.
Education Bachelor's, political science, Florida State University, 1992; juris doctor, Florida State School of Law, 1995. Bachelor's, food and resource economics, University of Florida, 1995.
Do you support efforts to allow oil drilling in state-owned waters? Maddox has long opposed drilling in Florida waters. He calls offshore drilling a shortsighted solution, and held several antidrilling events before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Putnam opposes "near-shore drilling." In Congress, Putnam supported opening more federal Florida waters to drilling. He has said the United States should do more oil exploration as well as invest in alternative energy sources.
How will you balance water needs of agriculture against the general population? Maddox says he will continue to stress best management practices for agriculture and new technologies to save water. He would convene an annual "state water summit" to implement sound water policies. Putnam proposes creating a statewide goal for per capita water use and encouraging landowners to capture and store rainwater. He also supports the Everglades restoration program and improvements to the Hoover Dike on Lake Okeechobee.
How will you focus on consumer protection issues? Maddox has emphasized this role of the office, saying he will focus on vigorous consumer protection, including protecting against mortgage fraud, credit card scams and fraud against the elderly. He says Florida needs a consumer advocate "not afraid to stand up to the special interests." Putnam says a major component of consumer protection is food safety, including ensuring gulf seafood is safe after this summer's oil spill. Besides enforcement, he also plans to communicate with children and seniors more often about potential scams.
Why should voters consider you for this office? "Florida has failed to invest in our agriculture base including new technologies to help shepherd Florida agriculture into new areas such as organic farming, renewable energy and other sustainable practices that will keep jobs in our state while giving us a competitive advantage over overseas growers." "As a fifth-generation citrus- and cattleman from Florida, I understand these challenges, especially those facing our $100 billion agriculture industry — the second-largest industry in the state. I understand the needs of those who supply our nation with their food and will fight to ensure that we never depend on foreign nations for our food as we do for our energy."
Assets Home, $807,000; ownership of Governance Inc., $155,000; ownership of Spectrum Resources, $440,000. Florida home, $162,000; Washington townhouse, $487,000; interest in citrus farm, $2.1 million; various bank and retirement accounts.
Liabilities Mortgage, $723,000; line of credit, $50,000. Mortgage, $392,000.
Income Maddox Horne law firm, $34,000; Governance Inc., $188,000. Congressional salary, $169,000; Putnam Groves Inc., $141,000; stock income, $120,000.
Personal Wife, Sha, and two boys, Jack and Denver. Wife, Melissa, and four young children.

Candidates for agriculture and consumer services 10/05/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 4:49pm]
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