Editor's note: The Times offers candidates not recommended by the editorial board an opportunity to reply.
Tim Curtis, U.S. House District 11
I am a son, brother, father, grandfather, Marine Corps 20-year veteran, creator of actual jobs, active citizen in my community, and registered to vote as a "democrat" eight days after my 18th birthday — I am certain that qualifies me as a "true democrat."
I am much more representative of the people of the 11th District than the elitist media and political types who prefer to tell us what to "think" rather than listening to and representing our voice. I share more principles and values with those of former President Kennedy than my opponent could ever hope to — fiscal responsibility, not ever-increasing deficits and debts; real health care reform and proven accountability and accessibility to name a few. Our policy differences are worlds apart and if the Times really supported public service they would call for a public debate to highlight the real "true democrat."
Tony Buntyn, U.S. House District 11, Republican
Carol and I are 14-year District 11 residents with two children in public schools. I've served 31 years in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and been activated three times since 9/11 to lead major projects. As a reservist, I've had employment and leadership experience in private and military sectors as a recognized cyber warfare expert.
I endorse term limits and pledge to serve no more than five terms. We must reduce government's size, cost, and intrusion; reduce taxes and simplify the 67,000-page tax code; protect the Internet as our last unedited venue for freedom of speech; and defend the Second Amendment as our last line of defense against tyranny.
Rising unemployment, runaway deficits, and unprecedented government growth threaten our dreams.
Doug Tudor, U.S. House District 12, Democrat
In the past two elections, Democrats have elected progressive majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as a moderate president. I do not believe these same voters will now vote for a "Blue Dog" conservative.
I am a candidate of conviction, not a candidate of convenience. Unlike my opponent, I did not get into this race simply because it is an open seat. Over the past 28 months, I have offered voters a solid plan to end our wars, end our dependence on carbon-based fuels and end the disastrous Bush-era economic policies.
Green jobs are the answer for the economy, the environment and national security. Rebuilding America's energy infrastructure, weathering our housing and modernizing our transportation systems are sound investments, putting our citizens to work now.
Holly Benson, attorney general, Republican
Your next attorney general can define the role narrowly as Florida's Top Cop, or she can use the unique tools of the office to address the pressing problems facing Floridians.
My mission is simple: put the bad guys behind bars and the good guys back to work. I will ensure that laws have teeth so law enforcement can keep families safe; launch a Strike Force to reduce unnecessary regulations; and end frivolous lawsuits that cost all of us.
Nothing your next attorney general will do will be as important as the challenge to Obamacare. It is an assault on our Constitution, hazardous to health, and it undermines our country's economic foundations. My background in health care uniquely qualifies me to take on this fight and win.
Sally Harris, Hillsborough County School Board, District 6
I particularly take offense that you pigeonholed me together with another candidate and summarily dismissed both of us as not running serious campaigns, hence trivializing our lives, experiences, commitments, and passions.
I have spent my entire life in the educational arena advocating for children of all ages, specifically those with special needs. I started my career as an occupational specialist, dealing with troubled students, and moved from there on to helping students with career decisions.
For the last 25 years, I have been the owner of a large preschool, afterschool, and summer camp. I have the only program in Tampa that uses horses and animals in developmentally appropriate curriculum.
I serve on multiple local and national boards and speak at various events. Being both an educator and business owner, I have unique perspectives to bring to the board. I have a strong community reputation as an enthusiastic and motivational leader. I also am known for my distinctive ability to encourage and facilitate teamwork among the boards on which I serve.
Trey Rustmann, Hillsborough County Commission, District 1, Republican
During these difficult economic times, local government must operate at a level of efficiency and effectiveness that is unprecedented in recent history — perhaps since the Great Depression. In order to achieve this, our community deserves leaders who have relevant skills and experience in the business sector.
My opponent, who does not come from business sector, is presenting across-the-board 5 percent budget cuts as a solution to reduce costs. I couldn't disagree more. My approach is one that offers more analysis of county operations and a surgical approach to cost reduction and eliminating wasteful spending. Moreover, I believe that fostering a spirit of partnership and greater cooperation between the county and the incorporated areas is paramount in order to identify and reduce duplicative services. I am optimistic that this approach will yield a cost reduction that exceeds 5 percent. This will make our local government more efficient over the long term and ultimately save taxpayer dollars.
The premise of your recommendation of my opponent centers on her civic involvement. While I commend my opponent for her commitment to this community, especially children's causes, our county government must have leaders who have practical business experience and a long-term vision. For District 1, it's time for new ideas, new leadership and a new direction.
Zilia Vasquez, Hillsborough Circuit Court Judge, Group 4
I appreciate the Times recognizing that I am qualified for this important position and that my life story would make a compelling example to young people in court.
The Times noted that "there is no strong argument" to remove the incumbent, only appointed to the Circuit Court last year. I disagree. Serving as a judge is not an entitlement, and the citizens of Hillsborough County deserve the best-qualified candidate. I am that candidate.
I have spent 20 years representing individual litigants. I have tried over 100 bench trials and many jury trials in state court. I have represented hundreds of individuals in civil, family, administrative and criminal court. I have acted as a volunteer attorney ad litem for dependent children and mentally challenged adults.