Saturday, October 20, 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.

Comments
Editorial notebook: Times editorial writers reminisce about Sears

Editorial notebook: Times editorial writers reminisce about Sears

Sharing memories of the “wish book,” shopping on Saturday nights and many memorable purchases
Published: 10/19/18

Editorial: FBI should take a hard look at CareerSource

The scrutiny now extends to the state agency that oversees the local jobs centers
Published: 10/19/18
Editorial: Toughen Florida’s building code

Editorial: Toughen Florida’s building code

Experts are right that Hurricane Michael should force a review of Florida’s building standards. While newer homes generally fared better than older ones, the state needs to reassess the risks posed by high winds and storm surge.
Published: 10/19/18
Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

You wouldn't skip a trip to the gas pump, would you?Then don't miss the chance to cast your general election ballot, either, when Hillsborough County opens its many early voting sites Monday morning for a two-week engagement.If you do your homework a...
Published: 10/19/18

Editorial: Glazer Children’s Museum quickly regained its step

Jennifer Stancil was terminated from her $169,280 a year job last month as museum president and chief executive, a post she held for three years. Exactly why remained a mystery to those outside the museum.
Published: 10/18/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Twenty-seven journalists have been murdered so far this year just for doing their jobs, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That number doesn’t even include Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident journalist who hasn’t been ...
Published: 10/17/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

The Florida Supreme Court reached the right conclusion by ruling that the next governor has the authority to appoint three new justices to the court rather than departing Gov. Rick Scott. That is practical and reasonable, and it reflects the will of ...
Published: 10/16/18
Updated: 10/19/18

Editorial: Housecleaning was necessary at Clearwater parks department

The theft of money and a hostile atmosphere show a city department out of control
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis wants voters to believe he is different than his Republican colleagues in Congress and President Donald Trump. The Palm Harbor Republican says he pays more attention to local issues than to the president, claims he doesnȁ...
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/16/18
Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

The Hillsborough County school tax on the Nov. 6 ballot is a smart, necessary investment in the nation's eighth-largest school system. The 10-year, half-penny sales tax would create stronger, safer schools and a healthier learning environment for mor...
Published: 10/12/18
Updated: 10/19/18