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GOP House candidates vie for attention of voters

By MATTHEW WAITE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 8, 2002

Going into the last weekend of the House District 45 campaign, Tom Anderson and John Legg's strategies haven't changed all that much: campaign on the other guy's turf.

District 45 is nearly evenly split, populationwise, between Pasco and Pinellas counties. Anderson lives in Pinellas, Legg in Pasco -- and both claim their home county as their stronghold.

With just days to go before Tuesday's primary, the two Republicans still are trying to get their names to voters. And, since there is no Republican governor's primary race to draw bigger numbers of Republican voters, the two are also working to be sure their voters turn out.

"We're doing a lot of mail, a lot of mail," Legg said Thursday. "Tom and I are running in areas we're not well known."

Both agreed the two issues that voters have asked them about most are education and elderly care. Both men agree that Florida's schools need improvement, but differ on what they would do to improve schools.

Anderson, 70, said he believes in the public school system and fears that charter schools, while offering worthwhile competition to public schools, might take too much away from public schools. Legg, 27, who teaches at a charter school, said he would adjust state funding formulas to help growing school districts with construction demands.

As for seniors, Legg favors increasing home care for seniors, letting them live at home instead of at a facility. Anderson says he wants more prescription drug benefits for low income seniors.

Anderson twice was elected to the Dunedin City Commission, and three times elected mayor of the city. He lists cutting taxes by 25 percent while building a new library and fire station among his achievements.

A retired management consultant, Anderson's ideas for office are often colored by his business background: increasing efficiency to save money, and adding a more powerful auditing agency for the Legislature to study departments, to name two.

Legg served as a legislative aide to state Rep. Heather Fiorentino for three years before he left to start Pasco's first charter school, Dayspring Academy. Legg's ideas -- adjusting state funding formulas to help fast growing counties to build schools, and linking water needs with growth control laws -- come from his time in Tallahassee and from teaching government to middle school students.

The winner of Tuesday's primary will face Democrat Kevin Jensen, the former spokesman for Palm Harbor Fire Rescue, and John Doherty, a Libertarian candidate and Hudson computer technician, in the general election in November.

-- Matthew Waite can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6247, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6247. His e-mail address is waite@sptimes.com.

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