Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State Senate | District 24

Tom Lee, a former state Senate president seeking a return to the Legislature, handily defeated state Rep. Rachel Burgin in a bruising Republican primary. Now he faces Democrat Elizabeth Belcher, a first-time political candidate who says her No. 1 priority is state ethics reform. Also in the race is Randolph Link, a write-in candidate from Plant City. Jodie Tillman, Times staff writer

Elizabeth Belcher, 62

Retired IRS investigator

Tom Lee, 50

Home builder

A criminal investigator for the Internal Revenue Service for 27 years, she retired in 2007. Her cases included tax fraud and money laundering. She helped establish the Seffner Mango Library and is treasurer of the Hickory Hill Special Dependent Tax District. She is one of several community activists who raised questions about the Regent, the publicly financed events center in Riverview that had to repay the county.Experience He's vice president of Sabal Homes of Florida Inc. He was a state senator from 1996-2006, the Senate president for the last two years. He lost a bid for state chief financial officer in 2006. He is a past president of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce; charter member of the Brandon '86 Rotary Club; member of the board of directors of A Kid's Place and vice chairman of the Tampa Bay History Center.
Bachelor of arts, Washington University in St. Louis, 1972EducationBachelor of science, University of Tampa, 1984
Wants legislation requiring lawmakers who introduce budget items to then list them on the state website. Also wants to require legislators to put their names beside line items they introduce.What would be your top priority in the Legislature?Improve the economy. Says there's no one piece of public policy to solve this. "It will take a mosaic of high-performing schools, an educated workforce, safe streets, adequate infrastructure, a business-friendly climate and the preservation of our environment."
"Save taxpayers' money by stopping the bribery to the large corporations to relocate to Florida. Take that money and direct it to small local businesses already here to expand and to help start new local businesses."What else can the Legislature do to grow Florida's economy and create more jobs?Maintain low taxes and have "minimal regulation requirements" in order to attract new businesses. At the same time, don't hurt quality of life (the environment and education) to jump-start the economy.
Put solar panels on all new state government buildings. Foster public-private partnerships to build solar farms on unusable land, such as brownfields. As the state removes vehicles from inventory, replace them with energy-efficient vehicles and hybrids. Revenue generated by sale of electricity would go toward education and also for solar panel grants to homeowners. How would you change the state's energy policy?"Energy reliability and affordability is often overlooked as a critical component of Florida's infrastructure. Fuel source diversity and environmental concerns need to be balanced and monitored; disaggregation programs that reduce the reliance on centralize power production and a transmission grid should be explored."
Yes. "Per the Constitution, 60 percent of all revenues received by the state must be spent on education at all levels. The lottery funds are supposed to be in addition to the 60 percent — not make up the shortfall. In addition, if our Legislature would spend money on higher education instead of airplane hangars, polytechnic schools and hurricane shelters/community centers, etc., the state would have adequate funds to support public education."Should the state spend more on public education?"Yes, but Florida has been through an extraordinary economic downturn, sacrifice has been across the board and the education system cannot be exempted. Moreover, Florida needs to do a better job connecting education expenses to employment opportunities. The trajectory of Florida's recovery is unlikely to produce a dramatic surge in state revenues anytime soon. We must embrace the need to do more with less and, to the extent possible, fund outcomes over process."
$1.1 millionAssets$3.6 million
Married to Jay, no children PersonalMarried to Laurel, three children

About the job: Newly drawn Senate District 24 is a mix of suburbs, small businesses and farms stretching east of Interstate 75 to Plant City. It's largely composed of conservative east Hillsborough but also includes New Tampa and areas near the University of South Florida. Senators serve four-year terms, earning $29,697 a year.

Florida Senate District 24: Elizabeth Belcher (D), Tom Lee (R)

Tom Lee, a former state Senate president seeking a return to the Legislature, handily defeated state Rep. Rachel Burgin in a bruising Republican primary. Now he faces Democrat Elizabeth Belcher, a first-time political candidate who says her No. 1 priority is state ethics reform. Also in the race is Randolph Link, a write-in candidate from Plant City.

Florida Senate District 24: Elizabeth Belcher (D), Tom Lee (R) 10/17/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 2:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Twins eventually cash in as Rays lose, fall back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays could only battle their way out of trouble for so long Saturday afternoon before succumbing in a 5-2 loss to the Twins.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 27: Brian Dozier #2 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates hitting a two-run home run as Derek Norris #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the eighth inning of the game on May 27, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rays 5-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010973
  2. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  3. Fans in Florida and beyond won't forget Gregg Allman

    Music & Concerts

    The end can come quickly for those who live fast and live hard, who create worlds with their talent and sometimes come close to throwing them away.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)
  4. Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, a former senator, dies at 85


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jim Bunning, a former Hall of Fame pitcher who went on to serve in Congress, has died. He was 85.

    In this June 21, 1964 file photo, Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches a perfect game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in New York.  The Phillies beat the Mets, 6-0.  Bunning retired all 27 batters who faced him in the first game of a doubleheader to become the first pitcher in 42 years with a perfect game in regular season play.   (AP Photo/File)
  5. Trump to decide next week whether to quit Paris climate agreement


    TAORMINA, Italy —President Donald Trump declined to endorse the Paris climate accords on Saturday, saying he would decide in the coming days whether the United States would pull out of the 195-nation agreement.

    President Donald Trump, right, arrives to a G7 session with outreach countries in Taormina, Italy, on Saturday. Climate and trade were sticking points at the two-day summit in Taormina, Sicily. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)