Sunday, November 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Tampa Bay voters can make a difference locally and beyond

More than 5 million Floridians already have cast ballots, but voters who have yet to make their choices should make every effort to make it to the polls Tuesday. There is too much at stake to sit this one out, from control of Congress to the governor’s race to local contests. Aside from the high-profile races for U.S. Senate and governor, here are four areas where Tampa Bay voters can make a real difference.

Congress. Just 23 U.S. House seats need to flip for Democrats to take control from Republicans. Three key Tampa Bay races, one for an open seat and two with Republican incumbents, could be pivotal. In District 12 covering north Pinellas County, all of Pasco County and a portion of northwest Hillsborough County, Democrat Chris Hunter is the strongest challenger that incumbent Republican Gus Bilirakis has faced. The Pasco County resident is a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor who would better represent the district on issues such as health care and the environment.

In District 15 covering eastern Hillsborough and two other counties, Democrat Kristen Carlson is uniquely suited to fill the vacant seat left by retiring Republican Dennis Ross. The Lakeland Democrat has a rich background in government, business and agriculture, serving for years as a senior attorney and general counsel for Florida's Department of Citrus. She is a far better choice than Republican state Rep. Ross Spano.

In District 16 covering the southern Hillsborough communities of FishHawk, Lithia, Apollo Beach and Sun City Center, Democrat David Shapiro offers a well-rounded agenda. The Sarasota attorney would focus on middle-class issues, from protecting the Affordable Care Act to diversifying the jobs base. He promises to be more visible in Hillsborough than the Republican incumbent, Rep. Vern Buchanan of Sarasota.

Florida Senate. Two Tampa Bay races are the key to Democrats gaining seats in the Republican-controlled Senate. In District 18 in Tampa, Democratic Rep. Janet Cruz has made her strong support for public school funding the key issue in her race against incumbent Republican Sen. Dana Young. In the open District 16 seat that covers north Pinellas and part of Pasco County, former Rep. Amanda Murphy is a conservative Democrat from Pasco who would be better on health care and other issues than former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper of Clearwater. If Democrats win these two seats, they could narrow the gap to 22 Republicans and 18 Democrats in the Senate and be poised to take control after the 2020 elections.

Hillsborough County Commission. The Democratic candidates for two open countywide commission seats offer broad bipartisan appeal. Mariella Smith and Kimberly Overman are small-business advocates who want growth to pay for itself, a common-sense approach that should appeal to Republicans and Democrats alike. Their plans would grow Hillsborough in a more sustainable way. Smith and Overman also bring a competency level and sense of openness that would raise the public's image of local government.

Pinellas School Board. Up to three members of the seven-member board could be new after Tuesday’s election, and that would be one too many. In the open District 2 countywide seat, former Tarpon Springs City Commissioner Jeff Larsen stands out for his clear ideas and enthusiasm. In the open District 6 seat that includes northeast St. Petersburg and south Pinellas beaches, Matt Stewart has a strong command of the issues and would bring a younger voice as a 38-year-old human resources manager and foster parent. In the District 3 countywide seat, incumbent Peggy O’Shea should be re-elected because of her experience and strong grasp of the district’s finances.

Comments
Column: Following through on Hillsborough education referendum

Column: Following through on Hillsborough education referendum

Your vote sends a message to our leaders that we value education.
Published: 11/16/18
Editorial: No substitute for state support of schools

Editorial: No substitute for state support of schools

Local referendums cannot make up for Tallahassee’s cuts.
Published: 11/16/18
Editorial: Riverwalk a defining civic space in Tampa

Editorial: Riverwalk a defining civic space in Tampa

Tampa's Riverwalk continues to grow into its own.This month, the American Planning Association named the linear park along the Hillsborough River through downtown Tampa as the winner of its "People's Choice" award. Part of the association's...
Published: 11/16/18
Editorial: Fee on single-use bags reasonable

Editorial: Fee on single-use bags reasonable

St. Petersburg’s proposed 5-cent fee on shopping bags could encourage better consumer habits.
Published: 11/16/18
Editorial: The enormous public cost of domestic violence

Editorial: The enormous public cost of domestic violence

Domestic violence carries a huge price tag in addition to the human toll.
Published: 11/15/18
Editorial: Warren takes positive step to advance justice in Hillsborough

Editorial: Warren takes positive step to advance justice in Hillsborough

The Conviction Review Unit follows through on a campaign pledge to review past conviction cases.
Published: 11/14/18
Editorial: Tone down the rhetoric, focus on counting votes

Editorial: Tone down the rhetoric, focus on counting votes

President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott should stop making unfounded claims of voter fraud.
Published: 11/13/18
Editorial: Get Hillsborough transit priorities in shape

Editorial: Get Hillsborough transit priorities in shape

Hillsborough County scored a historic win this month when voters approved a one-cent sales tax to pay for transportation improvements. The $9 billion or more it will generate over the next 30 years should transform mobility across the region and impr...
Published: 11/12/18
Editorial: Deadly danger of wrong-way driving

Editorial: Deadly danger of wrong-way driving

The state is taking action to minimize wrong-way crashes
Published: 11/11/18
Updated: 11/12/18
Editorial: Makeover on the Pinellas School Board

Editorial: Makeover on the Pinellas School Board

Three veterans depart, clearing the way for new faces
Published: 11/09/18
Updated: 11/12/18