Republican state Rep. Charles Canady says three terms in the state House of Representatives have given him the experience that makes him the best choice for the District 12 state Senate seat. Democratic challenger Quillian Yancey, who served in the state House for four terms beginning in 1966, said he, too, has the experience, and the time and the interest in the issues to do an even better job.
On Wednesday, the two debated the differences they have on issues ranging from gun control to environmental regulation.
The differences were subtle, and the hourlong debate, sponsored by radio station WWJB, was relatively calm in comparison with other forums taking place around the state during these last two weeks of campaigning.
Neither candidate did any name calling. Neither accused the other of anything. They even agreed on a few things.
"Mr. Yancey and I basically agree on this question," Canady said when asked about gun control legislation. "Like him, I believe we have laws against criminals' possessing firearms" that are effective.
Canady _ like Yancey _ said he favors the proposed three-day waiting period between the purchase and the delivery of firearms.
Both said they favor prison expansion, and said there is a need for more drug rehabilitation and education programs to help keep people out of prison.
"We've been building prisons _ and failing to build them _ for a long time, but we have not really dealt with the drug and alcohol problems that help cause (crime)," Yancey said.
As a state senator, Yancey said, one of the first things he would do would be to investigate different state departments _ including the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services and the Department of Transportation _ to see what they have done for District 12 constituents.
"I'm not running because I need a job _ I'm running because there is a job to be done," Yancey, a 68-year-old Lakeland rancher and retired lawyer said several times during the debate.
Canady, 36, said one of his priorities would be to always be an advocate for the constituents of the district, which includes parts of Hernando, Pasco, Polk and Osceola counties.
"That's one of the things I emphasized as a representative," Canady said. "When the bureaucracy is not working as it should work, (a state senator) needs to be an advocate for his constituents."