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    Candidate assumes populist stance

    Bemoaning the role of special interests in politics, Republican William Stieh pledges to work for the little guys.

    By CURTIS KRUEGER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 16, 2002


    William Stieh says special interests seem to have amassed more influence in Tallahassee than regular folks. So he decided to run for a seat in the state House of Representatives.

    "There's a lack of representation for the citizens with so many critical issues facing us as Floridians," Stieh said. "It just seems as though the special interests have more representation than the voters."

    Stieh, 33, owns a lawn and tree service and is running for the Republican nomination for House District 51, which includes portions of Largo, Pinellas Park and Seminole.

    On the Republican side, Stieh is running against incumbent Rep. Leslie Waters and challenger Dan Krassner for the GOP nomination. The winner will face Richard Langton, a Democrat, in the Nov. 5 general election.

    As someone not tied to powerful interest groups, Stieh said he would be freer than other lawmakers to make decisions benefitting the people.

    "So many of the legislators are so beholden to the special interests they are not able to do things that they themselves want to implement," he said.

    "I feel like there's never been a real voice of representation," he said. He said he would conduct several town hall meetings to learn what citizens are thinking.

    Stieh has had some problems in his past. Records show that he pleaded no contest in 1997 to possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Adjudication was withheld.

    "It was less than a joint, but I did have it on me," Stieh said.

    Regarding marijuana, Stieh said, "I certainly don't touch it now, (or) have anything to do with it, because it is against the law." But he said the government wastes too much money on the "war on drugs."

    Stieh was also placed on six month's probation for careless driving in 1989, and had his driver's license revoked for six months.

    If elected to the Legislature, Stieh said he would push for "at least a $2,000-a-year raise in teacher salaries across the board, and that's just a beginning."

    "I just can't understand why we don't have funding for schools," he said. Department of Children and Families case workers also deserve more pay, he said.

    Asked how to fund such programs, he suggested some sort of "rate increases or impact fees for growth." He said he needs to study the issue more.

    Stieh said he said he would be a strong proponent of the state's environmental land preservation program.

    He is married, and his family includes two stepsons and one daughter.

    0987$temp$ $STPT$

    ID:+ Paper:+

    Date: 8/16/02 Page: 3B+

    Section: TAMPA BAY Byline: Times staff writer+

    Headline: Sunshine Skyway closures start, a day late

    Notes:+

    Planned lane closures on the Sunshine Skyway started Thursday night, a day behind schedule. Rain forced a delay Wednesday

    Almost two weeks of lane closures are necessary to allow replacement of defective expansion joints on the bridge.

    Single-lane closures, from 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. each day, will continue through the weekend, culminating in the planned closure of both southbound lanes on Monday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

    During the full closure, northbound and southbound traffic will alternate using the northbound lanes.

    The process will begin again Tuesday for the northbound lanes, with single-lane closures nightly until Aug. 26, when both lanes will be closed.

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