In this race to succeed longtime state legislator Mike Fasano, who resigned to become Pasco tax collector, only one candidate shows the potential of continuing the same consumer advocacy for the citizens of Florida House District 36. Democrat Amanda Murphy has demonstrated a strong commitment to the community and more knowledge than her opponent of educational, economic and health care issues important to the district.
Murphy, 43, is a financial adviser and vice president at Raymond James & Associates. She grew up in west Pasco and does volunteer work at several nonprofits including the Community Service Council and the PACE Center for Girls. Murphy wants to increase funding for public schools, which remains below 2007 levels even though the state now has 85,000 additional students. She understands that an increased investment in education will bolster the workforce and make Florida more attractive for economic expansion. Unlike her opponent, she is committed to the Common Core standards.
Murphy also wants Florida to take full advantage of the Affordable Care Act by expanding federally financed Medicaid expansion so low-income, uninsured adults can be covered.
Her opponent, Republican Bill Gunter, 43, is fine with current education funding — but wants to funnel more to higher-performing schools. That's a stance contrary to the best interests of the district he would represent, which is populated with lower-income areas and has nearly a third of the D-rated schools in the county.
Gunter, a Presbyterian minister, confuses ambiguity and equivocation with leadership. He is campaigning as a voice for the average person, casting himself as best suited to continue Fasano's consumer advocacy. Yet, last year in an unsuccessful run for Pasco County Commission, Gunter packaged himself as an advocate for business interests opposed to government regulations. For a candidate promising to fight special interests, Gunter's campaign treasury is filled with contributions from Tallahassee's special interests.
In the Oct. 15 special election for Florida House District 36, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Amanda Murphy.