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State House | District 63

Incumbent Republican Shawn Harrison faces competition from Hillsborough middle school science teacher Mark Danish, a Democrat, in a redrawn district that leans Democratic. Harrison has out-fundraised Danish by nearly $200,000, and the pair's political stances are about as dissimilar as their campaign bank accounts. Jessica Vander Velde, Times staff writer

Mark Danish, 58


Shawn Harrison, 47


Danish teaches seventh- grade science at Benito Middle School, near his New Tampa home. He graduated from City University of New York (Queens College), where he studied science and education. He has spent most of his career as a science teacher in Hillsborough, and the last 17 years instructing seventh-graders. Danish has been involved with the teachers union and has traveled to Tallahassee with the union to advocate for teachers.Experience Harrison is a Tampa attorney who largely represents nursing homes. He is an owner in his law firm, located in downtown Tampa, and he and his wife, Susan, own a business that does background screening for the long-term care industry. He is a former Tampa City Council member and was first elected to the Florida House in 2010. Last year, he sponsored the bill that is now Amendment 9, the Florida Property Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses.
Bachelor's degree in earth and environmental science/secondary education from City University of New York (Queens College)EducationBachelor's degree in political science from the University of South Florida; law degree from the University of Florida
Education. After that, it would be working on our state infrastructure. Both education and jobs are big issues, and if the education system is good, it tends to bring more jobs into the state.What would your top priority be if elected to the Florida House of Representatives?Empowering small-business owners to create confidence in the Florida economy, especially for entrepreneurs, who will feel confident risking their own capital and not relying on the government to create jobs.
Kindergarten through college, education needs to be better funded in Florida. The state's education funding is very low, compared to other states. Also, FCAT should not be the primary principle of determining the success of a school or its teachers. The state is starting to move away from that, which is a positive thing. Emphasis on end-of-the-year exams is better.What are your thoughts on the state's education system?Florida needs to figure out a way to better fund education. I also believe that competition is a good thing in all facets of life, and competition in our schools is going to maximize achievement for everyone. So I believe that our public schools are on their way up in Florida, but I also believe in the mission of charter schools. Giving parents and students choices is better for everyone.
Focus on our state's infrastructure, improve education funding and also make long-term investments in clean energy. We should also focus on tourism, making Florida a destination state, which will bring in money.What can the Florida Legislature do to grow the economy and create more jobs?Offer tax incentives that attract businesses to Florida. We need to foster an environment where businesses feel confident coming to Florida, perhaps by working with local governments to offer incentives.
We must reform our unfair tax system to weed out special-interest loopholes. How would you change the state's tax system?I don't believe Florida has an income problem; it has a spending problem. Certainly, there are ways to decrease taxes, but you've got to be careful about cutting when times are bad.
House, investment accountsAssetsHouse, real estate in Tampa in the Panhandle, Medical Collection Group, law firm, investment account
MortgageLiabilitiesMortgage, ownership in law firm building, credit line
Teaching jobIncomeLaw firm, Medical Collection Group, legislative salary, rental income, mortgage interest
Married to Linda; three adult childrenPersonalMarried to Susan; two school-age children

About the job: District 63 serves portions of Hillsborough County, including Lutz, New Tampa, Seminole Heights, Town 'N Country, Egypt Lake and Ybor City. State representatives serve two-year terms and are paid $29,697 a year.

Florida House District 63: Mark Danish (D), Shawn Harrison (R)

Incumbent Republican Shawn Harrison faces competition from Hillsborough middle school science teacher Mark Danish, a Democrat, in a redrawn district that leans Democratic. Harrison has out-fundraised Danish by nearly $200,000, and the pair's political stances are about as dissimilar as their campaign bank accounts.

Florida House District 63: Mark Danish (D), Shawn Harrison (R) 10/17/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 3:02pm]
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