Former aide to run for House seat
By SAUNDRA AMRHEIN, Times Staff Writer
A former state legislative aide once behind the news releases is now stepping into the limelight.
John Legg, a Republican, announced his candidacy Monday for House District 45, currently held by state Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey.
Legg, 26, a one-time campaign aide to Fasano, worked as a legislative assistant to Rep. Heather Fiorentino from 1998 until this summer, when he decided to teach at Dayspring Academy for the Arts in Port Richey.
Legg, who considers Fasano a mentor, said he wanted to try to fill his shoes because Pasco County's growth and needs demand strong representation at the state level.
"I grew up in Pasco and I've been involved with Reps. Fasano and Fiorentino for many years," said Legg, who lives in New Port Richey. "I want to make sure Pasco has an aggressive representative that works on its behalf."
Fasano is running for the state Senate this year as term limits are forcing him out of the House.
Despite Legg's announcement, his paperwork had not yet been filed by the end of the business day Monday with the Florida Department of State's Division of Elections office.
But he already is attracting support, he said. Former County Commissioner Ed Collins has contributed $500 to his campaign, Legg said.
He's the first candidate to announce he's filing for Fasano's seat. And he's not wasting time targeting issues.
One of the founders of Pasco's first charter school -- which receives tax dollars but is relieved of many governmental rules -- Legg thinks administrators of public schools deserve more flexibility with staff, both in the punishment of bad teachers and rewarding good ones with bonuses and new incentives.
"We need to reduce paperwork that our teachers have in the classroom so they can spend more time on lesson plans," he said.
On funding issues, Legg opposes the intangibles tax on stocks and bonds, calling it a "tax on savings."
He's also against the idea to drop exemptions for certain businesses from the state sales tax. The proposal by Senate President John McKay calls for reducing the tax from 6 cents to 4 cents. Legg worries that local communities would then raise the tax in their counties through referendums. Those no longer exempt from the tax will get socked with the new and higher tax.
"You've just brought in a whole new wave of taxes," he said.
Legg also supports a stronger state role in counties' future growth plans.
"One of the things the state needs to do is take a more aggressive role in working with local communities on their comprehensive planning to make sure that growth doesn't have a detrimental effect on the environment, such as water, that when a new development comes in, there is enough water for growth," he said.
Legg is a Pasco native, listing local schools on his resume, including an associate of arts from Pasco-Hernando Community College and a bachelor's degree in social work from the University of South Florida.
Hugh Townsend, chairman of the Pasco County Republican Executive Committee, said he thought Legg would make an "excellent candidate" because of his experience with Fiorentino and his history in the county. Townsend said he had no idea how many other Republicans might jump into the race.
-- Saundra Amrhein covers Pasco County government. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6244, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6244. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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