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KYC Election Guide

State House District 69

Three vie in GOP primary

The Republican primary for the District 69 House race offers voters an eclectic group of candidates: a young lawyer, an IT consultant and a mayor. Neither David Phillips nor Jim Dobyns have any political experience, and they both say that's a good thing. Each also has accused South Pasadena Mayor Kathleen Peters of running for the state House just to advance her political career. Peters, who enters the race with a bevy of high-profile endorsements, denies that charge and says her experience is exactly what makes her the right choice. The winner of this primary will face unopposed Democratic candidate Josh Shulman. — John Woodrow Cox, Times staff writer

Jim Dobyns, 47

I.T consultant

Kathleen Peters, 51

Mayor of South Pasadena

David Phillips, 30


Party Republican Republican Republican
Experience Dobyns has, perhaps, the most diverse background of any candidate in this race. He says he has worked on dozens of political campaigns, including five for presidential candidates, though he declined to name them. As an IT consultant, Dobyns says, he has managed multimillion dollar budgets and dozens of staff members. He also has supplied props to television and movie productions. Dobyns, who is single, doesn't belong to the Tea Party but says his views overlap. Peters and her husband bought a house in Pinellas 27 years ago and have since raised four children here. At the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, she has dealt with politicians throughout the state. She won a spot on South Pasadena's City Commission in 2008. Peters declined to specify where she fits on the continuum of conservatism, but says she strongly believes in small government. If elected to the House, she will focus on education reform. Phillips was raised in Pinellas and lived here until he left to attend Stanford University in California. He later earned a degree from Florida State University's College of Law. As an attorney, he focuses on corporate law and frequently works with small business owners, which he says helps him better understand how to address the state's economic woes. He is a graduate of Leadership Pinellas and serves on the Clearwater Free Clinic's board of directors.
Education Bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois Bachelor's degree from Eckerd College Bachelor's degree from Stanford University, law degree from Florida State University College of Law
What would be your top priority in the legislature? "Re-evaluate all state of Florida contracts," Dobyns says, "to ensure that Florida businesses are selected over out-of-state vendors if the same or better products and services from Florida businesses can be purchased for the same or better prices." "I believe Florida's top priority needs to be education," Peters says. "Education will be our greatest resource in competing in the national and global market." "Sponsor legislation that is aimed at creating jobs in Florida and building a robust, diversified economy in our state," Phillips says. "Additionally, a top priority of mine would be to focus on efforts to fight and prevent Medicaid fraud and abuse."
Should the state spend more on education? "No. Florida's K-12 and higher education price tags are already too high. Throwing more money at this problem will not solve it — only make it worse," Dobyns says, adding that public university employees' salaries were already too high. "If overpaid faculty and administrators leave the state, good riddance." "Yes. Florida is spending less per student than they did five years ago," Peters says. "This cannot be just about putting more money into the system; it has to be about providing a comprehensive, quality-driven service and ensuring academic success." "As a fiscal conservative," Phillips says, "I believe that we must focus our efforts on spending more dollars in the classroom rather than on funding the educational bureaucracy."
What's your opinion of the state's reliance on the FCAT to determine merit pay? "I support standardized testing," Dobyns says. "Good teachers deserve merit pay. Bad teachers should be fired." "I support merit pay," Peters says. "I believe standardized testing has a role, but I also believe there should be additional measures that evaluate the progress of student achievement." "Teachers should be held accountable for meeting our children's educational needs," Phillips says, adding that he would be open to finding a better system than the FCAT to reward good teachers and weed out bad ones.
What would your priorities be for transportation, including mass transit? Dobyns says his priorities are "motor vehicles and roads." He strongly opposes the Pinellas light rail project and the associated sales tax increase. He wrote a Seussian poem to express his views: "I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like Light Rail. I do not like High Speed Rail. I do not like any taxpayer-funded Rail." "I agree with the governor's position on improving and expanding our ports," Peters says. "I believe we need to have a comprehensive transportation plan, one that is tied to a comprehensive land-use plan." "Florida needs to expand its ports to remain competitive in today's international economy," Phillips says. "I would also look for ways to cut the red tape and regulations to help approve shovel-ready road projects aimed at relieving congestion in our community."
Assets Car, domain names, historical voting equipment, astronaut memorabilia and autograph collection House in South Pasadena, two cars, retirement fund Sailboat
Liabilities None Mortgage Boat loan, car loan
Income Consulting Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce salary, South Pasadena mayor salary Law firm salary
Personal Single, with no children but one cat, Bad Baby Married, with four adult sons Single and a native of Pinellas County

State House District 69

State House District 69 07/28/12 [Last modified: Sunday, July 29, 2012 1:32am]
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