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The campaign for the District 51 House of Representatives seat already has resulted in an upset. The incumbent, Gerald S. "Jerry" Rehm, a veteran of politics in the Clearwater-Dunedin area, was ousted in the Republican primary in September. He fell to Patricia A. "Trish" Muscarella, a lawyer who had lost to Rehm in 1988.

Now the matchup is between Muscarella and Marilyn J. Dewey, a Democrat who also ran for the seat in 1988.

Dewey says she has a good idea of how to get things done in Tallahassee because she has experience there. She has been a lobbyist for the National Organization for Women (NOW) and a legislative advocate for the PTA and the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs.

The state must do something to reduce the dropout rate, Dewey says. One way might be to increase the number of alternative schools, she says.

Dewey says the state needs to manage its growth carefully and protect its environment. In fact, Florida's booming development means the state may need to consider moratoriums on building in some areas, she says.

She points to Clearwater Beach as one area that is so overdeveloped she wonders if residents could evacuate during a hurricane. If traffic gets any worse there, the government may need to consider restricting the number of cars on the beach, at least during hurricane season, she says.

Muscarella has proposed:

Passing a bill that would mean the tax assessment on a home could rise no more than 3 percent each year. The plan is designed to protect homeowners from paying skyrocketing taxes just because their property values increase.

Boycotting the Florida Lottery to show the state that the public wants all lottery proceeds to go to projects to enhance the state's educational system.

Increasing subsidized day care and educational programs for youngsters.

Forcing the Legislature to operate under the Sunshine Law, which would mean most meetings among lawmakers would have to be in public.

Both candidates believe women have the right to choose whether to have abortions.



District 51 includes an area bounded roughly by State Road 580 on the north, U.S. 19 on the east, Belleair Road on the south and the Gulf of Mexico on the west. House members serve two-year terms and are paid $22,560 a year.


MARILYN J. DEWEY, 45, has been a lobbyist for the National Organization for Women (NOW) and is a real estate agent, but she prefers to call herself a "community advocate." She previously has run for the state House of Representatives and the Dunedin City Commission. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire. She is single. ASSETS: Part interest in house in Dunedin, cottage in Maine, land in New Hampshire. LIABILITIES: None. INCOME: NOW, parents.


PATRICIA A. "TRISH" MUSCARELLA, 37, is a lawyer and president of a real estate firm and has operated a home for mentally handicapped adults. She ran for state representative in 1988 and was defeated in the primary. She is a graduate of the University of Florida and Stetson University College of Law. She is divorced. ASSETS: Real estate, law firm, real estate firm, cash. LIABILITIES: Loans on land, personal loans. INCOME: Real estate and law firms.