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Candidate replies

Editor's note: The Tampa Bay Times offers candidates not recommended by the editorial board an opportunity to reply.

Jon Newlon

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court

Group 35

Even if I disagree with them, I respect that the editors can voice an opinion of my qualifications.

As a father with sole responsibility for my seven oldest children for nearly eight years, I have a different perspective than do the editors. What they characterize as "messy" I see as adversity that was overcome. What they see as a negative component of my background, I see as a positive growth experience, one that humanized me, increased my empathy, and improved my ability to serve as a judge.

I have over 15 years of legal experience — more than an average new judge, more than my opponent had when he was elected, and more than a number of candidates that the Times has recommended this year and in years past.

My social media page has additional details about my background. Thanks to any voter who takes the time to investigate further.

Johnny Johnson

Pinellas County Commission

District 4

I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to communicate directly with your readers. I know how to run a successful small business and meet payroll. I've done it for 30 years as a pediatric dentist.

Red tape hinders businesses from locating or expanding into Pinellas. We must reduce red tape to attract businesses that will bring higher paying jobs and employ our workforce. This will increase our tax base and help to reduce our taxes.

We must deliver our county's services quicker, cheaper and faster to save taxpayer dollars while ensuring the quality of life that we all are accustomed to.

Moving Pinellas forward requires a dedicated, educated person who learns quickly, has strong successful business acumen, and has the time, talents, and passion to make decisions to keep our county great. I possess these qualities and will bring them to the County Commission.

Wanda Kimsey

Pinellas County Commission

District 4

My campaign is about serving the people, being accessible to the public and improving communications among residents, businesses and governmental agencies. Working for two Pinellas County commissioners and three county administrators for 30 years provided me with unique qualifications to "hit the ground running" and provide citizens with a county commissioner who will listen and help make Pinellas County government one we can be proud of and respect. I have been working a grass roots campaign and walking different neighborhoods throughout District 4. During these walks hundreds of individuals have shared their concerns about issues facing Pinellas County government. One common theme has been they are frustrated that elected officials do not listen to their views.

"Wanda Listens" continues to be the major focus of my campaign, and I respectfully ask for your vote. Please visit my website to learn about my experience and commitment to serve you, www.votewandakimsey.com.

Tom Rask

Pinellas County Commission

District 6

After having knocked on more than 1,000 doors in my district, it is clear that my positions on term limits, Greenlight Pinellas and on other issues align with the vast majority of the voters. I invite voters to visit www.rask.com to examine my policy positions for themselves.

The Times described my opponent as "collaborative." Special interests have taken over almost every level of government. As a direct consequence, the American middle class struggles and erodes. Such bad outcomes is what my opponent's "collaborative" approach delivers to citizens. My diverse professional background and achievements, which the Times omitted, provides me with the background necessary to protect the citizens and taxpayers.

It came as no surprise that the Times endorsed my career politician opponent. The Times used to lean left; now it leans $$$. In doing so, your publication is woefully out of touch with its readers and Pinellas County voters.

Chris Tauchnitz

Pinellas School Board

District 2

I'm well versed in education policy, but my campaign is too narrowly focused according to the editorial board. I presented a number of ideas to increase parental involvement and why it is needed; nearly every failing school shows a dearth in parental involvement, but they have the best teachers, facilities and administrators … what is missing are parents! I also believe we need to move forward as fast as we can to expand apprenticeship opportunities and provide them earlier.

If the "broader vision" is to add magnets to failing schools, thereby setting up a two-tiered system, then I stand by my narrow vision. Giving my opponent credit for the superintendent search process is a reach. The board should have gone with a private search firm; the FADSS search netted more construction contractors than viable candidates. Pinellas County Schools got lucky, and luck is not a substitute for sound decisions!

Kent Curtis

Pinellas School Board

District 3

I was surprised by your recommendation and by your claim that I have not made a case for myself. In your July 18 editorial "St. Petersburg's Illiteracy Problem" you call for "the broader community to … engage in making sure every child learns."

For the past five years, as your newspaper has regularly reported, I volunteered my time and expertise to round up resources, recruit mentors and provide curriculum-based educational support in the schools you identify. I trained several hundred volunteers to provide academic support to more than 1,000 school kids. Yet neither Peggy O'Shea nor anyone on the School Board ever reached out to me or offered support.

The election-season claim that she will now intervene in these schools is too little too late. In contrast, I have a proven record and the experience to make a difference.

Beverley Billiris

Pinellas School Board

District 4

I want to thank the Tampa Bay Times for the opportunity to respond to their comments. As a public servant of the city of Tarpon Springs, I successfully demonstrated leadership, vision, and fiscal responsibility. The Times recognized those leadership qualities when I ran for office for four terms and recommended me in each election.

Can I be impatient? Yes. I am impatient with over testing and poor implementation of the Florida Standards (Common Core), which I do not support. We do not have enough programs that will meet the needs of our students in low socioeconomic areas. I want to support more magnet programs and fundamental schools. We need to give more autonomy to our schools for local decisionmaking. I am the only candidate who has recent experience in the classroom and has witnessed the frustrations of students and parents.

John Nygren

Pinellas School Board

District 4

I am running because I want to create vocational schools to address the needs of students not going to college. I want to initiate ideas to improve our elementary schools. I want to create more alternative schools to improve the discipline in our schools.

I want to place the special needs aides back in the classrooms. I want to make nurses and psychologists full time in all schools. I want to ensure all staff are properly trained to implement the state standards.

I want to create a zero base budget in each building. I want to reorganize the administration throughout the county. I want the board to set the policies and have the superintendent implement them. My 35 years of teaching experience and four years on a public school board means that I can think for myself and not just rubber-stamp the superintendent's ideas.

Sally Harris

Hillsborough School Board

District 2

I am writing to make sense of how my resume has been hidden during this campaign. The comment keeps being that Michelle Shimberg has been groomed for this position and comes with experience in education and business. Why is the media overlooking my credentials?

I founded and operated a private accredited preschool for 32 years. During those years and a recession I kept all of my staff by making some very tough personal decisions.

I have raised in my home over 30 foster children, including two now attending public schools. I have served on the Citizens Advisory Board three times in 30 years. I represented five schools as PTA president and worked as a career counselor in middle and high schools for 18 years. I have been president of the Business and Professional Women's Association and served over 10 years with the Department of Education on teams that make accreditation visits for middle and high schools across Florida.

Candidate replies 08/05/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 7, 2014 12:37pm]

    

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