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State House | District 62

Two Tampa natives with deep roots in the area are competing to represent this Democrat-leaning district. They are newcomer Wesley Warren and incumbent Janet Cruz. Elisabeth Parker, Times staff writer

Janet Cruz, 56

State House representative

Wesley Warren, 48

Construction maintenance

Janet Cruz traces her Tampa history to her great-great-grandparents, immigrants from Spain and Italy, who worked in Ybor City's cigar factories. The West Tampa seat, she says, allows her to represent her roots. In her 20s, she walked West Tampa streets campaigning with Lawton Chiles (U.S. senator and later Florida governor). During her tenure in Tallahassee, she has struggled to be effective in the Republican-controlled house, she said, but is proud to have sponsored two bills that passed. She is Catholic and likes to cook. Experience Wesley Warren's grandfather drove a trolley through Tampa. Warren has lived 44 years in Hampton Terrace, where he serves as president of the homeowners association. He was a key player in the association's secession from the Old Seminole Heights Association two years ago. He worked many years in retail, and for the past eight years in construction maintenance. He says he is often called stubborn. "When I start something, I finish it." He is Protestant and enjoys walking in the evenings.
Associate's degree in optician dispensing, Hillsborough Community CollegeEducationCompleted one year at Hillsborough Community College
Jobs. Constituents tell me they have a daughter-in-law or a son who are out of work. The district is almost 20 percent Hispanic. I think Tampa has been a little slow to turn the page on the slow economy. What do you think is the biggest issue for your constituents?People in this district are hurting. People are losing their homes. They can't afford another tax. I can relate because I'm struggling myself.
I hosted a job fair in August with 100 employers and 1,200 people looking for jobs. Many of them found work.What would you do to address this problem? Why not one job fair a month? I want to put people back to work.
One of the bills I sponsored that passed allows health care workers convicted of certain felony crimes, like multiple DUIs, to continue working in the field. Before, the law barred them for 15 years. The other provides penalties for those who help career criminals evade law enforcement. I am focused on minority issues, such as health care for the Hispanic population. What other issues have you taken on or do you plan to tackle?Founding the Hampton Terrace Neighborhood Association was a difficult and costly journey that started when a group of people who don't live here voted to give it historic status with the city. I was one of the group who spearheaded the formation of the new association. I'm all for historic preservation. But to force someone to preserve, whether they can afford it or not, is wrong.
I'm in favor of historic preservation. I don't know much about Mr. Warren. He hasn't raised much money. The Republican Party paid his filing fees. I do want people to know this about me: I'm just one of them. I grew up humble. We had nothing. I was voted a champion of Florida's middle class (by Florida Watch Action, Progress Florida and America Votes) for my voting record in the 2012 session.Compare yourself to your opponent.I read that (Cruz) worked in insurance. I'm not sure I want someone who worked in the insurance industry representing me. I think it's important that representatives know the area. She was a resident of South Tampa. She talks about her base in West Tampa. The district is more than just West Tampa. I think I know it better than she does. People say they haven't seen her in the district on a regular basis. They would see me.
Household goods and personal effects, retirement fund, stocks, bonds, money market fund and real estate valued at about $592,000.AssetsHousehold goods and personal effects valued at $3,500.
Auto lease and mortgage of about $116,000LiabilitiesNone
$29,806 as a representativeIncome$3,924 annually
Married to Dr. Stephen Rifkin; two children and two grandchildrenPersonalSingle, lives with mother; extended family in the area

About the job: District 62 covers neighborhoods north of downtown Tampa to Egypt Lake and includes part of neighborhoods such as Seminole Heights, West Tampa and Town 'N Country. State representatives serve two-year terms and are paid $29,697.

Florida House District 62: Janet Cruz (D), Wesley Warren (R)

Two Tampa natives with deep roots in the area are competing to represent this Democrat-leaning district. They are newcomer Wesley Warren and incumbent Janet Cruz.

Florida House District 62: Janet Cruz (D), Wesley Warren (R) 10/17/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 3:01pm]
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