Saturday, January 20, 2018
Politics

Newly created Florida House District 57 draws at least five candidates

The dust has barely settled on the state's decennial redistricting, but candidates are lining up for a shot at representing voters in a newly created House seat in southeastern Hillsborough County.

At least five candidates, all political newcomers, have signaled intentions to run for the new seat, representing voters from FishHawk Ranch, Sun City Center, Wimauma and parts of Bloomingdale and Riverview. Monday is the deadline for turning in the required petition signatures to get on the ballot without paying a fee for most races, including newly redrawn House Districts 57, 58 and 59.

Candidates who choose the qualifying fee instead must pay 6 percent of a House member's $30,000 salary, or $1,800, by early June if they want their names printed on the ballot, said Hillsborough elections supervisor spokesman Travis Abercrombie.

The five candidates currently vying to represent District 57, a sprawling new political territory carved largely from former Districts 56 and 62, are Republicans Jake Raburn of FishHawk and Brian Hollands and Joe Wicker, both of Riverview, and Democrats Bruce Barnett of Valrico and Mark Taylor of South Tampa.

State Rep. Rachel Burgin, seeking re-election after serving in the House since 2008, saw her redrawn district shift to the north and west, losing a section of Tampa but claiming more of Seffner and Progress Village. She has drawn a challenger in the redrawn District 59, fellow Republican Michael Floyd of Valrico.

Seeking to claim House District 58, which retains much of the former District 62, is Plant City Mayor Dan Raulerson, also a Republican. As of early this week, he was running unopposed. The incumbent, Richard Glorioso, is term limited and bidding to become supervisor of elections.

Races that draw more than one Republican or Democrat will include a primary, scheduled for Aug. 14.

New district lines are drawn every 10 years to match legislative representation to population shifts identified by the latest census. This year's exercise put parts of Ruskin and Apollo Beach in District 70 with portions of Pinellas and Manatee counties. No Hillsborough candidates were seeking that seat as of early this week.

Incumbent Dana Young will run as an incumbent in District 60, which now extends east to include much of South Shore. As of this week, she has no opposition.

Approval of the new district lines so close to qualifying deadlines has created headaches for some races, including District 57. For example, Taylor, a Tampa resident, said election officials have assured him that he lives in the new district, but he is prepared to run elsewhere if it turns out he lives outside the boundaries.

A spokesman for the Division of Elections in Tallahassee said Monday that candidates can move to the appropriate district after the qualifying period if officials discover errors stemming from redistricting.

Hillsborough's newest House district promises voters a choice among candidates with starkly different viewpoints.

Raburn, 27, grew up in Plant City, the son of public school educators. He showed pigs at the Florida Strawberry Festival, studied agriculture at the University of Florida and made it his career, currently working for Hinton Farms. He is married to the former Melissa Hinton, and the couple has an infant son, Jackson.

The candidate said his primary goal is economic growth, and he sees cutting government regulations as key.

Fellow Republican Wicker, 33, echoed that sentiment, saying he would like to help repeal what he sees as restrictive business legislation and cut corporate taxes.

He moved to southern Hillsborough in 2008 after serving as an Army officer for six years, including a stint in Iraq. He is a business manager in the distribution division of International Paper Co. and serves on the Hillsborough County Republican Party executive committee. He is married to Amy Elam.

Hollands, 45, who works in business development for Hillsborough Community College's corporate training program in Tampa, has been president of the South Shore Republican Club and served almost two years on the Hillsborough County Planning Commission. He and his wife, Bonnie, have a year-old son.

He said he would like to explore ways to encourage government and business to stop investing in infrastructure that will be outdated in the next 20 years and use new technology to cut costs in health care, transportation and education.

Barnett, 48, a Democrat, lives in Valrico with his wife, Birgit, and a daughter, Jan, who is graduating from Newsome High School and heading to the University of Central Florida in the fall. He said recent cuts to Bright Futures scholarships and increasing college tuition costs fueled his interest in running.

He also wants to curb corporate tax breaks he sees as detrimental to the public interest.

Barnett works for General Transportation Services in Brandon.

Taylor, 53, grew up in Orlando, graduated from West Point in 1980 and served seven years as an Army officer. In 2004, he moved to Tampa, where he lives with his wife, Wendy. He oversees regional maintenance operations for Sunoco Inc. from Florida to Washington, D.C.

Education, transportation and parks are his primary interests. He said he wants to make sure K-12 students continue to receive a top-notch education through public schools and improve transportation through expanded mass transit options.

In District 59, newcomer Floyd, 67, is a retired law enforcement officer with a long career, including stints in Tampa and Plant City and as chief of police for the Seminole Indian tribe throughout Florida. This is his first run at an elected position since a failed bid for Tampa City Council in the 1970s.

He and his wife, Linda, have five grown children and seven grandchildren. Education is among his priorities.

Burgin could not be reached for comment.

Susan Marschalk Green can be reached at [email protected]

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