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State House District 50 candidates Ed Hooper and Shelly Leonard

Voters in Clearwater-based District 50 have a choice between two very different candidates. Incumbent Ed Hooper, part of the House Republican leadership, is seeking a third term and says his priorities are jobs and affordable property insurance. Democratic challenger Shelly Leonard is a political newcomer, social worker, single mother and cancer survivor who says the Legislature is broken and Hooper should go.

About the job: House District 50 includes most of Clearwater except for the barrier islands, as well as parts of Largo and Safety Harbor. Representatives serve two years and are paid $31,932 a year.

More about these candidates

Ed Hooper, 63

State representative , consultant
R Shelly Leonard, 37

Social worker
Worked as a firefighter for 28 years, retiring as a lieutenant. Clearwater city commissioner, 1996-2000. State representative from 2006 to the present. Deputy majority leader in the House. Experience Social worker for Gulf Coast Community Care, 2007-2009. Probation case assistant for a municipal court in Washington state, 2004-2007. Volunteer work for labor unions.
St. Petersburg Junior College, fire science and emergency medicine studies. Education Bachelor's degree from Evergreen State College with concentrations in psychology and social science.
He opposes it and notes that he has voted against it. "I was one of very few Republicans to vote against the bill offered in the House during the 2009 session." He says Floridians should get to vote on a constitutional amendment, but that Gov. Charlie Crist's last-minute effort to put it on the ballot did not have enough support in the Legislature. What is your position on oil drilling off Florida's Gulf Coast? She opposes it. She says Hooper voted to defer it, not to ban it outright. She criticizes Hooper for voting to adjourn a special legislative session without putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban offshore drilling.
Jobs, schools, affordable property insurance and the challenge of how to fund expanding Medicaid rolls. He also supports immigration reform and wants a modified version of Arizona's illegal-immigration law. "If you're here illegally, you ought not to be here." What are your top priorities? Jobs, schools, green energy. She wants to institute a two-day cooling-off period between amendments to bills and votes on bills, which she says could prevent abuses like the "Taj Mahal" courthouse and the airplane hangar that got former House Speaker Ray Sansom in trouble.
He says he has the experience to best represent his district. "I believe you go to Tallahassee to represent the people who sent you there. Not your own beliefs or your party's beliefs. I'm not afraid to vote what I believe my constituents think." Why should we vote for you and not your opponent? She links Hooper to disgraced ex-Republican Party boss Jim Greer and Sansom. She says Hooper is out of touch with his constituents and that because he's a deputy majority leader and whip, he does what the Republican Party wants, even if District 50 residents don't want it.
$83,375. Campaign funds raised as of last report $475.
Home, rental property, certificates of deposit, retirement account. Assets None.
Two mortgages. Liabilities Student loans.
State representative salary, Clearwater firefighters pension and partnership in the Consus Group, a company that provides government and community relations counseling. Income On hiatus from her job as a social worker to run for office. Living at On Top of the World retirement community to care for an elderly aunt.
Married with adult children and grandchildren. Personal Divorced. Two sons, ages 12 and 14, both of whom have muscular dystrophy. Website
"Contact us" page on campaign website E-mail

State House District 50 candidates Ed Hooper and Shelly Leonard 10/12/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 3:17pm]
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