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More responses to questions on growth issues

STATE HOUSE PART 3

WATER CONSERVATION

Water is the most important resource in our lives and there are gross water problems in our state, district and county. Why are water, the protection of the environment, and development of alternative sources to groundwater pumping not given the highest priority?

Eileen C. Hart, Odessa

TRAFFIC SOLUTIONS

What would you do to improve the traffic flow in the county? Would you, for example, support light rail and high occupancy vehicle lanes on the interstate?

John G. Larkins, Tampa

PUBLIC COMMENTS

I participate as a concerned citizen in various public hearings. The agencies solicit our comments, then ignore our input, as with the Florida Gas Transmission pipeline. What will you do to ensure that public comments are incorporated and not dismissed?

Ann O'Brien, Lutz

SWIFTMUD

What do you plan to do to help get rid of the water bureaucracy, Swiftmud? All these people do is buy land to drill more wells. Meanwhile, billions of gallons of water are flowing to the gulf from dozens of springs.

Perry M. Norris, Tampa

RECREATIONAL TRAILS

As the president of Hillsborough Trails Inc., I am very concerned that Pinellas, Orange and other nearby communities have either developed or are developing recreational trail systems, while we have not. What can you do to promote this type of system in Hillsborough County?

Ed Crawford, Tampa

RESPONSIVE GOVERNMENT

Is there a way to bring government closer to citizens? Do we need more elected officials? Smaller jurisdictions? A different form of government?

Tom Stearns, Tampa

CANDIDATES REPLY

DISTRICT 20

Charlie Crist to Eileen Hart:

The highest priority frankly goes to crime, but she's right. Water is an important issue. Frankly, crime is our highest priority. We need to look to such alternatives as desalinization, better management through better utilization of the existing freshwater we have. I'm told 170-million gallons flow into the gulf through Weeki Wachee every day. It seems to me common sense should dictate we use more of that freshwater than letting it escape. We have to be very vigilant in protect of our freshwater. (I supported) the tank clean-up program, which my opponent attacked me on.

Charlie Crist to John Larkins:

That makes good sense to look at double occupancy in vehicles. They're already doing that in different parts of the state. As far as mass transit is concerned, thus far it's been so mismanaged it does not work well...They change the schedules so frequently people never know where to pick up the bus... It has to have continuity before people will use it often. I support mass transit but have to encourage more efficiency... One thing we battle as Americans, we're very independent. If anybody's going to use mass transit it's got to be darned good, darned efficient, or people will use their own vehicles.

Charlie Crist to Ann O'Brien:

I will actively continue to hold town meetings as I have done in the past, specifically with (Sen.) Jim Hargett, in order to get input from the citizens we represent. It's equally frustrating for representatives and senators to have agencies take laws and policy and almost subvert those efforts, so I share the frustrations she has expressed. We just have to double our efforts to make sure she is heard... Nobody had a better voting attendance record than Charlie Crist and it's because I continue to be there to watch over what agencies do.

Charlie Crist to Perry Norris:

We need to do a complete review of the various water agencies we have in Florida. I don't just talk about that, I've voted for legislation. I think he's right on point. I'm doing that. We're going to change how water's managed in this state. It's just that simple. In my view, it's been ineffective to date and inefficient.

Charlie Crist to Ed Crawford:

I'll continue to advocate for it as I have. I'm very familiar with the trail that currently serves Pinellas County. It's been a great success. I have already supported efforts to support additional trails throughout the state. I'd like to meet with him and see what kind of ideas he has...Or if the state's in the way, to try to get them out of the way.

Charlie Crist to Tom Stearns:

The best way to bring government close to the people is to have more decisions that effect us made closer to the local level. An initiative I support strongly, tax initiatives must be supported by a vote of the people... And I support it wholeheartedly. If relected, I'll support legislation to make that law. Recently, the Florida Supreme Court knocked it off the ballot, which I think is unfortunate... I'm not afraid of having the people make those kinds of decisions. After all, this government was created to serve the people, not to serve the bureaucrats.

Dana Maley to Eileen C. Hart:

We spend a lot of money and a lot of time arguing and being involved in litigation between the two groups that control the water. I think this new group, Tampa Bay Water Coordinating Council, hopefully will do a lot to bring the different agencies and local government leaders... together and start focusing and developing real solutions... The cost of growth needs to be spread fairly and we probably will see more equitable rate structures that make water more expensive as more water is consumed. Aggressive research into desalinization, water reuse and wetlands mitigation is needed.

Dana Maley to John Larkins:

The cost of new highway construction is exceedingly high, including the right of way acquisition cost... We obviously need a more balanced transportation system. We have looked at the high speed train for cheaper and faster roadway expansion but that doesn't solve our commuter travel problems because they involve frequent stops and starts. There's a lot of political resistance because people don't want their neighborhoods disrupted. Better public transportation should be an integral part of any solution.

Dana Maley to Ann O'Brien:

One of the reasons why I'm running for office is I share the same frustration she has. As a past state legislative chair for business and professional women for two years in a row I lobbied on a volunteer basis local, state and federal legislators on issues such as child care, victims rights, women's health issues and many times was faced with a very lackluster response from the legislators. I will be a public citizen legislator. My door will always be open.

Dana Maley to Perry Norris:

Swiftmud has planned new water pumping limits in our area and there is a lot of political turmoil over Swiftmud's proposals to limit the groundwater pumping from Hillsborough to Charlotte counties. An important component of their plan is treating and reusing water from sewer systems and desalinization and also drilling new wells. We can pipe water from areas that are water rich, but we still must take steps to ensure that our use of this resource is not wasteful.

Dana Maley to Ed Crawford:

I have been on the Pinellas Trail and it is one of the better recreational ideas that we've had in Pinellas County. I don't see any reason why Hillsborough County cannot have a Hillsborough trail as extensive and as well developed as Pinellas County. The funding and the work on the Pinellas Trail was completed over several years, but I would certainly be very willing to work with groups to help Hillsborough trails grow to the extent Hillsborough County wishes.

Dana Maley to Tom Stearns:

We can do a lot to bring the government back to the people with strong campaign finance reform. We have too many legislators with deep pockets for their special interests and special interest dollars. Also, I believe that we should demand that our legislators do the job that we send them to Tallahassee to do. We should not be willing to accept a state senator who wants to appoint another study, add another layer of bureaucracy to solve a problem that we pay him to solve. My campaign is about people and it will continue to be about people if I'm elected.

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