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State House | District 34

Jimmie T. Smith scored an upset in 2010 when he beat Republican incumbent Ron Schultz for what was then the District 43 seat. To win a second term, Smith must fend off former state legislator Nancy Argenziano, a former Republican who is now running as an Independent. Argenziano garnered the support of the Democratic Party when the Democratic primary winner dropped out to set up a head-to-head matchup against Smith. Tony Marrero, Times staff writer

Jimmie T. Smith, 47

State House representative

Nancy Argenziano, 57

Former legislator, Public Service Commission member

Born in Ridgewood, N.J, Smith is a retired Army staff sergeant who served in Panama, Korea and Saudi Arabia over a 20-year military career. He first moved to Florida in 1975 and returned to Citrus County in 2003. He worked as a pest control technician and construction laborer, and was a security guard for Progress Energy's nuclear power plant at Crystal River when he won the state House seat in 2010. During his campaign, Smith called himself a constitutional conservative whose beliefs aligned with the tea party. Among the notable measures he helped to pass during his first term were bills to allow state agencies to randomly drug-test workers, and to require food stamp applicants to pass a drug test. Both drew legal challenges. He also sponsored a bill to give veterans priority when registering for courses at state colleges and universities. Experience A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Argenziano has lived in Florida since 1971. She has worked as a Realtor, stained-glass artist and veterinary technician, but made a name for herself as an environmental activist focused on water resources in Citrus County. She would go on to serve six years in the Florida House and five years in the Florida Senate before Gov. Charlie Crist appointed her in 2007 to the Public Service Commission. The longtime Republican decided to step down in 2010, six months before she was scheduled to lose the post because the legislatively controlled PSC nominating council refused to consider her for another term. She endorsed Democrat Alex Sink for governor, saying she had to speak out to prevent the "noxious mix" of a Republican-led Legislature with then-candidate Rick Scott, who went on to become governor.
GEDEducationGED, with some college coursework
Smith says his plan, if re-elected, is "to continue to ensure that the tax dollars are spent on needed items and prevent the inflation of the state budget before we are fiscally sound."What would be your top priority if elected?Contending that the GOP-dominated Legislature has been hijacked by special interests, Argenziano says she will push for ethics reform to require disclosure if a spouse, family member or business partner might benefit from legislation. She would push to repeal a law passed in 2006 that allows energy companies to charge customers in advance to pay for nuclear plants. And she would work to restore laws that protect consumers, nursing home residents and the environment.
Lawmakers, Smith says, must "continue to remove duplicative regulation, facilitate the permitting process and provide the needed education in skills that will create incentives for the private sector to move here." What can the Legislature do to grow Florida's economy and create more jobs?Alternative energy can spur job creation, but the Legislature "has to stop the protection of the 'traditional energy only' mentality," she says. The state should also offer incentives to companies to provide on-the-job training in skilled labor fields, and work with Congress to level the playing field by adding tariffs on foreign goods.
"It is a proven fact that standardized testing has succeeded in bringing up our education system," Smith said. "We are moving away from FCAT, now doing end-of-course exams and will then move to common core (standards). It should be more of a vision of what we will do in the future when it comes to education, testing and quality."What is your opinion of the state's heavy reliance on the FCAT to grade schools and, starting next year, determine merit pay for teachers?

Should the state stay the course on standardized testing?

Merit pay for teachers should not be based on standardized test results, Argenziano contends. "Too many factors are involved to make such determination valid," she said. She said she is no longer sure that standardized testing is an effective way to hold the education system accountable. "It has been a moving target."
"I believe Citizens must return to being the insurer of last resort," Smith said. "While supporting the cap of 10 percent, I believe we must continue to work to encourage private insurers to return back to our hurricane- and sinkhole-prone areas." He added that the state should rely more on sales tax and less on property tax to reduce the cost of owning a home in Florida.What is your solution to make property insurance more accessible and affordable? Do you support the state law that caps average annual premium increases at Citizens Property Insurance at 10 percent?Argenziano says the state should help bring insurance companies into the market with the goal of putting Citizens out of business. "If that requires an artificial market for a period of time, it's sufferable," she said.
Home equity, carAssetsHomes, recreational vehicle
Mortgage, vehicle loan LiabilitiesHome mortgage and vehicle loans
Legislative salary, military pensionIncomeRental property
Divorced, one daughterPersonalSingle, one grown son

About the job: State House District 34 includes all of Citrus County and a portion of Hernando County generally west of the Suncoast Parkway and north of State Road 50. State representatives serve two-year terms, and are paid $29,697 a year.

Florida House District 34: Jimmie T. Smith (R), Nancy Argenziano (I)

Jimmie T. Smith scored an upset in 2010 when he beat Republican incumbent Ron Schultz for what was then the District 43 seat. To win a second term, Smith must fend off former state legislator Nancy Argenziano, a former Republican who is now running as an Independent. Argenziano garnered the support of the Democratic Party when the Democratic primary winner dropped out to set up a head-to-head matchup against Smith.

Florida House District 34: Jimmie T. Smith (R), Nancy Argenziano (I) 10/17/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 18, 2012 11:05am]
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