Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: U.S. House debate puts sharp differences on display

The two leading candidates to succeed the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young delivered starkly different views of the role of government Monday night in their first debate. David Jolly embraced the most conservative wing of the Republican Party and sounded out of step with mainstream Pinellas County voters. Democrat Alex Sink offered a more centrist view of issues and sounded better positioned to work on bipartisan solutions in gridlocked Washington. Both offered articulate pitches for their positions and avoided major missteps, and voters in District 13 have a distinct choice in the March 11 election.

The hourlong debate at St. Petersburg College provided far more substance than the slew of negative television campaign ads, including more than $4 million by outside third-party groups.

The starkest lines were drawn on social issues. On the Affordable Care Act: Jolly would vote to repeal it; Sink would work to improve it but supports its considerable progress in enabling Americans, particularly those with pre-existing conditions, to obtain health insurance. Jolly opposes gay marriage and a woman's right to an abortion; Sink supports both. Sink supports the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill that would both strengthen borders and create a lengthy path to citizenship; Jolly opposes the legislation and a path to citizenship.

On Social Security and Medicare, both Sink and Jolly offered their weakest answers as they pledged to protect the programs. Sink, 65, offered no specifics and said she has earned her Medicare coverage like 170,000 other residents of the district. Jolly, 41, claimed he would only change benefits for those who have contributed to the system for less than 10 years. At that moment, Libertarian Lucas Overby, the third candidate in the debate, provided the best retort: At 27 years old, he'd both lose benefits and end up footing the bill for Jolly's solution.

Sink and Jolly were most in agreement in embracing a delay in a 2012 flood insurance law that has caused rates to skyrocket in Pinellas and elsewhere. They differed on the ultimate solution. Jolly called for the private insurance market to shoulder more of the risk, while Sink questioned the viability of that approach.

Many of the night's exchanges were pointed, with Jolly in his opening remarks calling Sink — a longtime Hillsborough County resident — a carpetbagger for moving to Pinellas County to run for the office. But Overby, who in recent years has lived in Pinellas longer than either Sink or Jolly, was right when he told moderators he didn't think the candidates' residency would be a determining factor for voters. Nor likely will Jolly's former occupation as a Washington lobbyist, though Sink repeatedly returned to that theme.

The final moments of the debate provided one more contrast when it came to foreign policy. Jolly said he wants President Barack Obama to intervene in the Syrian crisis; but Sink said she doesn't have the appetite to put "more boots on the ground" in a conflict where we "don't understand the dynamics."

The debate underscored that this is not an election of nuance. Jolly and Sink offer dramatically different perspectives, and as Pinellas Elections Supervisor Deborah Clark is expected to mail out absentee ballots this week, voters have a distinct choice.

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Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Something is seriously amiss at Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource agencies, which receive millions in federal and state money to match unemployed workers with local employers. First, the agencies appear to be taking credit — and money — for job placements...
Published: 01/22/18

A Chicago Tribune editorial: Shut down this shutdown habit

"Shutting down the government of the United States of America should never ever be a bargaining chip for any issue. Period. It should be to governing as chemical warfare is to real warfare. It should be banned."— Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., addressing ...
Published: 01/22/18
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...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
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