tbo: Tampa Bay Online.
Thursday, Jul 27, 2017
Editorials

Gottlieb, Cruz and Harrison for state House

Friday we endorsed Republicans Jake Raburn, Mike Fasano and Dan Raulerson for the Florida House. Today we complete our House recommendations for what we expect to be a strong and balanced delegation. District 59 Two lawyers born in Brandon are competing in their first run for office to represent the district that includes Brandon and much of Riverview. Ross Spano, 46, came out on top in a tough, four-way Republican primary. Democrat Gail Gottlieb, 52, had no primary opponent.
Spano has a law firm in Riverview and has a reputation as a hard worker. He favors lower taxes and less regulation and believes the state should take a break from buying and preserving environmental land. His message plays well in the conservative district. To help spur economic growth, he proposes a new tax credit to encourage small business owners to buy property rather than lease. Gottlieb has a more varied and independent agenda. She would have argued against the elimination of most state rules governing growth and criticizes the Republican Legislature for refusing "to plan for our future in a sensible way." She is concerned about overcrowded roads and the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. She is skeptical that near-shore drilling for oil can be done safely in Florida; Spano seems less concerned with the risk to the tourist industry. A clean environment, Gottlieb stresses, is good for business. Gottlieb also expresses concern about misuse of public funds. She calls the loss of tax dollars significant enough to be considered a "corruption tax." She advocates a stronger state ethics commission and better access to public information. Both candidates impress us as principled and qualified. Much of what Spano advocates already is getting done in Tallahassee. Gottlieb's agenda will run into more challenges, but she is raising issues, particularly on ethics, the Legislature and taxpayers need to consider. In District 59, the Tribune endorsees Gail Gottlieb. District 62 Republican Wesley Warren is a conducting a quiet campaign against Democrat Janet Cruz, who was elected two years ago in District 58. Redistricting changed most of Cruz's former district, including West Tampa, Seminole Heights, and Town 'N Country, into 62. Cruz has done a good job serving her constituents and working successfully with the Republican-dominated House. She has managed to help pass a number of notable bills, including a measure that toughened penalties for those who aid career offenders and legislation that bolstered protection for victims of domestic violence. She teamed with Tampa Republican Rep. Dana Young to increase pension funds for widows and widowers of Tampa police and firefighters. She also helped Young on legislation that prevents outside interests from taking control of Tampa's reclaimed water. She stays connected with constituents, and her annual West Tampa Job Fair is popular. Cruz is doing good work for her district and the state. In District 62, the Tribune endorses Janet Cruz. District 63 In this district covering north-central Hillsborough and New Tampa neighborhoods, Democrat Mark Danish is challenging Republican incumbent Rep. Shawn Harrison, who was elected two years ago. Redistricting changed Harrison's district from 60 to 63. Danish, 58, is a teacher and strong union supporter whose priority would be education. He wants to see the state invest more in infrastructure and criticizes the Tallahassee leadership for taking a "my way or the highway" attitude on issues. But Harrison, an attorney and small business owner, is not one of those abusive lawmakers. He is conscientious and industrious. He makes clear his strong conservative beliefs but isn't the type to dismiss the views of others. The former Tampa City Council member has passed legislation aimed at helping the survivors of first responders killed in the line of duty. He has opposed fellow lawmakers' attempts to pass unfunded mandates on local governments. As a former city official, he knows Tallahassee should not try to direct local policy. A University of South Florida graduate, he tried to protect USF from last session's legislative assault. Beyond practicing law, Harrison and his wife own a company that screens individuals going into long-term care facilities. So he understands nursing home issues and the needs of the elderly. In House District 63, The Tribune endorses Shawn Harrison. Districts 60, 61, 64 and 70 Republicans Dana Young and James Grant are unopposed in, respectively, Districts 60 and 64. Democrat Betty Reed won her primary in District 61 and faces no further opposition. Democrat Darryl Rouson has no opponent in District 70.
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