Elvin Martinez is a veteran defense lawyer who has had two decades in the Florida Legislature. Andy Steingold is an apprentice prosecutor making his first run for office. On Tuesday, one of them will win the right to represent House District 65. Both candidates list crime and education among their main concerns.
Martinez, the Democratic incumbent, says he wants to make sentencing guidelines "flexible enough so that alternatives (to prison) are available for non-violent, non-repeat offenders." He wants to ensure that the worst criminals aren't released from prison to make room for non-violent felons, and he says more drug-treatment beds are needed.
Steingold, his Republican challenger, wants to eliminate gain time and any other program that prevents criminals from completing their entire sentences. He proposes paying for new prison beds by making probationers contribute to a state fund, putting inmates to work and bringing in private industry to make prisons more efficient.
In education, Martinez says the state needs to find more dollars for Head Start and dropout-prevention programs. Steingold says more teachers are needed to achieve a return to smaller classes.
Martinez says the Legislature must expand the tax base to meet the state's growth needs. He sees the homestead exemption as sacrosanct but proposes eliminating some sales tax exemptions on items "like big yachts and some services."
Steingold, who says he opposes any off-shore drilling, wants tougher penalties on environmental polluters, perhaps tying fines to the income derived from a polluting activity. "Right now, it's cheaper for a company just to make the chemical spill and pay the fine," he said.
Steingold calls his opponent an ineffective legislator and blasts him for running for office "while he's on federal probation."
Last year, Martinez was convicted of failing to pay his income taxes on time for 1983, 1984 and 1985. He was sentenced to probation and community service on the misdemeanor charge.
Martinez says the investigations of him were politically motivated but failed to erode his support. This year, he picked up the endorsements of the Hillsborough County Police Benevolent Association and the Builders Association of Greater Tampa, as well as the annual "Crime Fighters Award" from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Though he was the prime sponsor of few bills in the last session, Martinez says his effectiveness has been demonstrated by his involvement in requiring political action committees to be registered, getting the Sunshine Skyway bridge rebuilt and pushing numerous bills making law enforcement's job easier.
_ JEFF TESTERMAN
State House District 65 includes most of West Tampa, from Florida Avenue west to Eisenhower Boulevard and from Kennedy Boulevard north to Linebaugh Avenue. House members serve two-year terms and are paid $22,560 a year.
ELVIN L. MARTINEZ, 56, is a lawyer who has been the District 65 representative for 20 of the past 24 years. Born in Tampa, Martinez is a graduate of the University of Tampa and Stetson University College of Law. He served with the Army Corps of Engineers from 1952 to 1954. He was the majority floor leader from 1980 to 1982 and chairman of the criminal justice subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee during the last legislative session. He is married and has five children. ASSETS: Personal belongings, home, law practice. LIABILITIES: Mortgage, bank loan, personal loan. INCOME: Law practice, legislator's salary.
ANDY STEINGOLD, 29, is a lawyer on leave from the Hillsborough state attorney's office while he campaigns for the House District 65 seat. He was raised in the Sarasota area and earned a psychology degree from the University of South Florida and a law degree from Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Ala. He worked as a licensed securities broker for J.
B. Hanauer Co. in Tampa and became a prosecutor for State Attorney Bill James in August 1987. He is single. ASSETS: Personal belongings, savings account, stocks. LIABILITIES: Two student loans. INCOME: Assistant state attorney's salary.