Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Politics

State House | District 36

Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, is seeking re-election to a second full term after initially winning this seat in 2013 when Gov. Rick Scott appointed then-Rep. Mike Fasano to become Pasco tax collector. Murphy is opposed by college student Amber Mariano of Hudson, the daughter of Pasco Commissioner Jack Mariano. She initially filed to run for a seat based in Orlando, but switched districts at the June filing deadline.

About the job: District 36 covers coastal Pasco County from Pinellas to Hernando counties and includes the cities of Port Richey and New Port Richey as well as the unincorporated communities of Holiday and Hudson and the businesses and neighborhoods along the U.S. 19 corridor. The district's eastward boundary curves along Seven Spring Boulevard at the southern county line to Little Road and eventually to U.S. 19 in Aripeka. State representatives serve two-year terms and earn $29,697 a year.

Amber Mariano

Party: 

Republican

Profession: 

Student

About the candidate: 

Mariano, who turned 21 this week, is a full-time college student at the University of Central Florida and is splitting her time between her family's home in Hudson and Orlando. If elected, she plans to graduate in December so she can fulfill her duties as a Florida representative. She has focused her campaign on higher education and on the flooding issues confronting residents in some west Pasco neighborhoods.

Education: 

Third-year student at the University of Central Florida's Honors College, majoring in political science

How would you reform Florida's criminal justice system? 

"Criminals that prey on children, our seniors and our communities must be kept behind bars: plain and simple. Violent and repeat offenders should meet stiff penalties. Now more than ever, public servants like police and first responders need our support and deserve our praise and attention. I support Sheriff Chris Nocco and the job his deputies do here in Pasco to keep us safe. I would look to him on issues affecting the criminal justice system, how to reform it and if reforms are needed."

Do you support Amendment 2's legalization of medical marijuana? 

"Many Floridians are in pain and need assistance. Although medical marijuana might be the answer for them, it sends our state down the slippery slope toward full legalization of a recreational and known gateway drug. In the last decade, Florida fought vigorously against and was ground zero for the outbreak of the prescription drug addiction in the United States. New rules were passed to rein in pill mills and pain clinics. Doctors have a multitude of pain relief drugs available that can do what the medical marijuana amendment claims to do. I would prefer we err on the side of caution and our children and will not be supporting Amendment 2."

Do you support Florida's system for testing school children and what would you do to reform it? 

"I support local control of our local public schools, but as taxpayers we must demand accountability. If local school boards can make these determinations, Florida's parents can have more direct input on education policies. Florida has currently reduced the number of tests schoolchildren take for that purpose, but accountability and standards need to be an important part of our public school system. The more local control the Legislature can give our local schools, the better."

Should municipalities be able to pass their own laws regulating issues like guns, mass transit and wages? 

"If Florida became a patchwork of very different and individual rules, laws and regulations, it would make it more difficult for its citizens to move around and more burdensome to do business throughout the state. We should not have a patchwork of mismatched laws that could leave citizens confused, businesses over-regulated and our economy stalled. Issues of regional and statewide important should be controlled by the state Legislature. Allowing municipal governments to make up their own laws on guns, wages and transit creates too many hardships and burdens on Florida residents and businesses."

Assets/liabilities/ income: 

Assets: None Liabilities: Student loan, car lease Income: $3,222

Personal: 

Home: Hudson Marital status: Single Children: None

Campaign fundraising: 

Contributions: $17,993 Expenditures: $14,628

On the web: 

Website: amberforus.com Twitter: @ambermariano

Amanda Murphy

Party: 

Democrat

Profession: 

Vice president, wealth management group, Raymond James Financial

About the candidate: 

Murphy, 46, is a three-year veteran of the Legislature after winning the District 36 race in a 2013 special election. In Tallahassee, she has sought to expand Medicaid for the uninsured, refund customers' fees for a planned nuclear power plant that was never built and add safeguards to legislation authorizing fracking in Florida. Locally, she sponsored the bill allowing Lake Jovita Country Club to remove itself from the town of St. Leo and sought money for drainage improvements in two west Pasco neighborhoods, but Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the appropriation.

Education: 

Graduated from Florida State University with a B.A. in political science

How would you reform Florida's criminal justice system? 

"We need to reform Florida's direct file system that preys on Florida's juvenile offenders. The current system allows for overcharging of juveniles in hopes they will plead out to a lesser charge to get out of jail instead of fighting the charges or maintaining their innocence. Florida also needs to shift the criminal justice system's focus from retribution to rehabilitation. We need to focus on rehabilitating offenders so when they leave the system they are set to rejoin society and contribute to the economy instead of being left in a position where they are more likely to become repeat offenders."

Do you support Amendment 2's legalization of medical marijuana? 

"Yes. We have seen medical cannabis help thousands of people in other states, and there is absolutely no reason why we should deny relief to those in need. You shouldn't have to risk becoming a criminal to take care of your loved ones; we need to make this change sooner rather than later. Over the past few years, we have worked on bills to get medical cannabis to those who need it. If you had the option of your child taking a cannabis pill or oil or needing surgery or dying, which option would you use? Let the medical field utilize all of the tools at their disposal to heal our citizens."

Do you support Florida's system for testing school children and what would you do to reform it? 

"No. Florida is a testing-heavy state, which is why I supported reducing the number of tests our children are required to take. We need to bring stakeholders (parents, teachers, etc.) in on the process to determine what is best for the students. Right now, our teachers are forced to teach to the numerous standardized tests. We need to let them regain control of their classrooms and teach our students the skills they need to succeed in school and in life."

Should municipalities be able to pass their own laws regulating issues like guns, mass transit and wages? 

"This is a very loaded question. Yes and no. We need to have consistency across the state, particularly when it comes to things like gun laws. It would be very difficult to avoid a lot of confusion for gun owners if each city were allowed to pass different gun laws or restrictions. Municipalities often know better than Tallahassee what they need to succeed in today's economy, which is why they should be afforded flexibility in making decisions regarding mass transit and minimum wage."

Assets/liabilities/ income: 

Assets: Home, rental home, time shares, stocks, retirement accounts Liabilities: Mortgages Income: $160,908.

Personal: 

Home: New Port Richey Marital status: Married Children: One daughter, two stepdaughters, one grandson

Campaign fundraising: 

Contributions: $115,486 Expenditures: $44,954

On the web: 

Website: voteamandamurphy.com Twitter: @AmandaMurphyFL

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