Sunday, January 21, 2018

Candidate replies

Editor's note: Candidates not recommended by the Tampa Bay Times are offered an opportunity to respond.

Everett Rice Pinellas County Sheriff, Republicans

As you state, I led the Sheriff's Office well for 16 years. I restored professionalism to the office, expanded programs and took over policing in six communities — thereby saving local taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. I cleaned up the corruption in the office and gave employees civil service protection. As a leader in the Florida Sheriff's Association I led the way to stop the revolving door prison system. The crime rate has been declining since the Stop Turning Out Prisoners Act passed. As a state legislator I co-sponsored the Jessica Lunsford Act, making Florida the toughest in the nation against sexual predators. I am the only candidate who worked up through the ranks or attended the FBI National Academy. I am the only public servant who has pledged their pension to charity.

The voters trusted me before and can trust me again.

Eduardo "Eddy'' Calcines Hillsborough County School Board, District 1

I am grateful for the opportunity to reveal my passion for serving the students of Hillsborough County. The Tampa Bay Times points out that there are no great substantive differences between myself and Susan Valdes, but I respectfully disagree.

I have devoted much of my adult life to mentoring the at-risk student population. However, I also have a clear understanding of what my responsibility would be as a School Board member: to advocate and maximize the educational potential of every student. My sons graduated from public schools and continued onto higher education. I also have a comprehensive insight of what is necessary for children to achieve academically and in life.

The Times promotes the inequitable and limited representation of select schools and not District 1 as a whole. I intend to represent all of the students in District 1, as well as the district at large! This is the vitality, imagination and genuine commitment I will bring to the School Board as the District 1 board member.

Robert McElheny Hillsborough County School Board, District 7

The Tampa Bay Times claims I have a light agenda. Please explain to me what that means.

I was asked "who are you mad at" in running for the School Board position. I guess if I am mad at someone that constitutes a heavy agenda.

My answer was no one — I am running because I feel that my education background coupled with a strong business background for 37 years blended with a great deal of common sense could add value and a fresh prospective to the School Board.

Some items that are already on the School Board agenda that need resolution are the budget, FCAT, EET, career and technical improvements, transportation budgets, contract processes and teacher morale, just to name a few.

My agenda is bringing a fresh face and thinking to a board that needs a person of my background who has no single-issue agenda. The agenda has no shortage of items. What is lacking is a problem solver to address those items.

"Joe" Jordan-Robinson Hillsborough County School Board, District 7

I am more than an engineer and community activist. I have a declaration of principles for my platform, and they have been published. I am not "status quo" but a "fresh perspective."

I am a businessman and parent who understands children, families and what it takes to develop a child to an adult, having raised my daughter to graduate from college and become a successful engineer and administrator against all odds.

My platform considers: mismanagement of operations; looking at policies, procedures and rules; improving graduation rates and student reading performance; a review of the superintendent's 2005 contract; competitive selection of school board attorneys; Bill Gates funding; and establishing better oversight of Title I funding.

I am asking all voters in this countywide, nonpartisan election to vote for me now and on Aug. 14 and show that the voters still determine the leaders in Hillsborough County.

Cassandra Jackson Pinellas County School Board, District 7

I am a St. Petersburg native and product of Pinellas County public schools. I have served on several boards — Lealman Elementary Student Advisory Board, Area IV Advisory Board, John Sexton Elementary Student Advisory Board co-chair, Lakeview Fundamental PTA president, Southside Fundamantal Intervention Appeal Committee and Fundamental Task Force 2006 (leading up to Osceola Fundamental High), Gibbs High Student Advisory Board, Football Booster president, PTSA treasurer and chairperson of the NAACP Education Committee for two years.

I believe effective change comes first and foremost from parental engagement, increasing "back to basic" fundamental and magnet schools, closing the achievement gap, encouraging advance placement classes for postsecondary, encouraging vocational and technical training in high school.

"It's better to build a child than to repair an adult" — Frederick Douglass.

Jim Jackson Pinellas County School Board, District 1

The Tampa Bay Times praised my "admirable commitment to tracking the School Board, visiting schools and understanding the districts' challenges" and my passion for education. I am grateful for the compliments, although I do take exception with the ultimate conclusion. This School Board seat belongs to the people of Pinellas County — parents, teachers, grandparents, community members and taxpayers. It should not be decided by a select few in a boardroom or a country club. We are building the next generation of leaders, not widgets, and my election will replace an educator on the board, not add a new one. I am an educator of more than four decades and the only candidate still working part time in the Pinellas public schools. I have worked hard to gain your trust and I am asking for your vote on Aug. 14.

Maria Scruggs Pinellas County Commission, District 7, Democrats

County commissioners must make decisions which boldly represent the voice of the citizens of Pinellas County as opposed to special interests. My decision to be a plaintiff in a lawsuit against county commissioners for exceeding their terms in office is a prime example of the type of bold decision I have no problem making.

As a certified public manager in the state of Florida, coupled with 30 years of professional experience in law enforcement, corrections, public housing, health care, special taxing district, and health care, I have those practical experiences and the track record of accomplishments to include: bringing over one-half million dollars into the Childs Park community, developing a comprehensive tutorial program in Jordan Park, developing the concept for the Mercy Wellness Institute, developing a breast cancer program for St. Anthony's Hospital that educated over 3,000 women about the importance of mammography and self breast examination, to name a few.

James Mathieu House District 36, Republicans

As an attorney I have written and worked with legislation my entire adult life. Once elected, I intend to read and research all proposed bills before voting on them. My decisions will be based on what's best for the citizens of Florida and not the elected officials.

All I ask is that the public research on the Florida Division of Elections website, under committees, for "Committee For Floridians For Principled Government.'' Read its purpose, who runs it, where the money came from and where it went. Be informed.

You will never get change unless you vote for it. I am endorsed by the Republican Party of Pasco and for good reason. We are tired of the same old recycling of politicians in Pasco and their populist positions which ensures re-election but does nothing to improve our lives or the economy of Pasco County. Vote.

David Phillips House District 69, Republicans

Our nation's founders envisioned a government run by citizens who briefly left their communities to serve in elected office. They wisely understood that elected offices should be an opportunity to serve, not a career. For months, I've walked the neighborhoods of my district, after work and on weekends, and heard hardworking Floridians ask, "When will things ever change?" Everyone I've met is tired of government that grows endlessly and treats itself to special rules. They know, as do I, that the people who got us into this mess are not the same people equipped to get us out.

They also know that to change business as usual, it takes someone like me, whose business is not government. Should you honor me to serve as your next state representative in District 69, I will live up to that ideal regardless of the next election. We're in this together.

John Korsak Senate District 17, Republicans

I knew that as a conservative, first-time candidate I would not receive the Tampa Bay Times' recommendation. But one line that says "not a realistic alternative" is really a reflection of simple-minded journalism that disenfranchises voters. My credentials and political message would resonate with the voters, which is precisely why the Times intentionally omitted all of it in their recommendation column.

I am a Marine Corps veteran and former Secret Service officer, and I have a master's degree in public policy. Over the past eight months, I have clearly articulated viable, substantive solutions — not political punch lines. This is who I am, and these are the things that make me the most realistic and viable candidate for Senate District 17.

Our future cannot be trusted to my opponents — recycled politicians that Tallahassee needs to continue an unsustainable agenda.

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18