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Candidate responses

Published August 21, 2004

The Times offers candidates not recommended by its editorial board an opportunity to reply. Here are some of those replies.


In response to your editorial decision to endorse the candidacy of Mel Martinez (Martinez for Republicans, Aug. 1) I, too, share your disappointment with the typical and less-than-hopeful front-runners in the race - which is precisely why I entered the race in the first place. Sending the same type of lawyer/career politicians to Washington over and over again will produce the same less-than-innovative results that we have unfortunately come to accept.

At the same time, I must also strongly disagree with two of your points regarding my candidacy. First, to suggest that producing a 12-minute movie short that addresses some 13 issues critical to the selection of Florida's next U.S. senator is merely self-promoting, is to have implied that the 30-second TV sound-bite campaign ad that we have all become accustomed to seeing is somehow adequate.

Second, my belief that we need to eliminate the largest and most distrusted bureaucracy, the Internal Revenue Service, and replace the 16,000 pages of tax-code confusion with a simpler, fairer, flat tax is far from what you call "half-baked." In addition to the likes of Dick Armey and Steve Forbes, Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert has also just recently called for the elimination of the IRS and its replacement with an alternative, such as a flat tax. The American taxpayer holds a justifiable degree of skepticism and distrust of the current system, including the notion that corporations never really pay their fair share.

Eliminating the IRS and other measures - such as removing the work penalty for our seniors and elimination of the taxes on Social Security benefits - all are examples of measures whose time is past due but are mired in the business-as-usual attitude in Washington. How sad that your paper has joined the ranks of those that have given up hope about how to make America great!



Richard Penberthy's military service is certainly exemplary and my enlistment in the U.S. Peace Corps is no less so. Service to my country in Latin America for three years equates well with what the article describes as "active duty" in support of American foreign policy.

Penberthy reports a life-long membership in the Democratic Party. I became an Independent when the Democratic Party abdicated its leadership responsibility in advocating legislative needs of its constituency.

Here are our positions on issues:

1) He intends to "revamp" health care. I advocate a national health care system.

2) He wishes to "enlist" the United Nations to rebuild Iraq. I urge transferring full administrative authority to the United Nations.

3) He wants to "modify" the Patriot Act. I want to repeal it. The "Act" subverts the U.S. Constitution and should be replaced by a law that will enable the FBI and CIA to fully cooperate.

4) He advocates "compromise," but eagerness to compromise in a "modest" way is not reassuring in the matter of providing forceful representation of Democratic Party policies.

5) He supports our troops in Iraq. I support our troops in Iraq by effecting policy changes that will enable them to come home.

The objectives of the revitalized Democratic Party are not well served by the "modesty" of Richard Penberthy. It is time to stand up and strongly affirm the need for change in national policies and to provide forceful leadership.



I am a passionate candidate. Passionate about my issues, especially comprehensive health care reform. Passionate about the integrity of my party, the political system, and unrelenting about the notion that truth matters. I sincerely believe that I can make a difference at this turning point in American history.

The Democratic Party must be well represented in District 5 in the general election by someone with real political convictions and at least a history of honoring commitments and keeping promises. The Democratic Party will cease to be relevant if it survives merely as a means for fulfilling personal ambition for those with a checkbook to play.

I firmly believe that I am the best candidate for the right reasons. I willingly stood in defense of personal and party principles, promoting the truth knowing full well the cost to me in doing so. When serious factual concerns about a candidate are brought to the media's attention, it is their responsibility to provide an objective investigation and unbiased report. A person-to-person struggle may sell more newspapers, but it does not help the voter. Rhetoric is no substitute for character. There is little to be gained in a general election if the truth has been a victim in the primary.

I am the candidate of substance. Meaningful health care reform will only be achieved by the election of courageous, experienced, and knowledgeable representatives of tenacious character. Victory over congresswoman Brown-Waite will only be achieved by a candidate with the intensity to compete on her terms. I am that candidate! John Russell. Go to



Your Aug. 8 editorial recommending Mark Ober for Hillsborough County State Attorney failed to mention the following regarding Ober's management of the office:

Eighty-three of the 110 attorneys in the office when Ober took office in 2001 have left, including many experienced career-minded prosecutors.

Ober has wasted limited financial resources by assigning experienced prosecutors to strictly administrative positions that do not involve handling or supervising cases.

Ober disbanded the Narcotics Division, which coordinated and streamlined law enforcement and prosecution efforts in complex drug cases at the local and state levels.

Among my top priorities upon taking office will be to retain the best prosecutors, reallocate the office's resources more effectively and reinstate the Narcotics Division.

Another top priority will be to reverse the growing perception in the community that the quality of justice at the State Attorney's office depends upon who you know or which defense lawyer is hired by the accused. Although this perception may not be reality, I have heard from enough crime victims and their families to know it is a problem.

I believe that I can do a better job for the people of Hillsborough County as their state attorney. I served nearly nine years as a prosecutor in the State Attorney's Office, including time as chief of the County Court Division and of the Narcotics Division. I have an excellent working relationship with rank-and-file law enforcement, having earned their trust and respect by regularly accompanying them on patrol during my tenure at the State Attorney's Office.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to respond.



Running for public office should never be a full-time job. Having sought office once before does not make a person more qualified or less qualified for office. It merely means that one may be better known. Seeking elected office should be an act of community service. Serving the people of Hillsborough County is why I am running for Hillsborough County Commission, District 6.

A lifelong resident of Hillsborough County, I have seen the county change over the years. I have seen the positive effects of growth bring jobs and economic opportunity. But I have also witnessed the negative effects of growth - overdevelopment, transportation woes, water problems, an increase in crime, education concerns and the delicate balance between rural and urban Hillsborough County beginning to disappear. I have seen what unbridled growth has done to Atlanta and Dallas, and want to prevent that in Hillsborough County. But I have also seen what halting all growth can do to cities like Tallahassee and Albany, N.Y. A balance must be struck. I believe that I can bring that balance to the Hillsborough County Commission.

There are no easy answers to the issues that face Hillsborough County. We need to begin by adopting smart growth policies. For too long, Hillsborough County has practiced a policy of "build and then plan." We must pursue a "plan and then build" policy. Growth is inevitable. What we need to do is balance the growth with the new demands that it creates. What we do not need is politics as usual. We need a County Commission that works with the city governments and the citizens - not a County Commission that works for special interests.

I am running as a true conservative Republican in this race. To be a "real conservative" means just that: conserving our way of life in Hillsborough County for ourselves, our children and grandchildren.

We can bring fundamental, not incremental, change to Hillsborough County. Ask yourselves: Is Hillsborough County better off now than it was four years ago? Are transportation issues better now than they were four years ago? Is the water problem better now than it was? If you believe that the answer is "no" and that we must and can do better, I urge you to support me on Aug. 31 and bring an end to politics as usual and bring real change to Hillsborough County.



I assume you did not mention my name as a Republican candidate for the Hillsborough County Commission District 7 seat in your recommendations because I did not reply to your invitation to participate. This is fair enough, but to say that I have not "reached out" is misleading, and I feel a duty to reply. I have proposed a committee that would meet regularly and consist of the three mayors, the chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, one council member each from the three cities and one from the BOCC. I shared this recently with the mayors of Tampa and Temple Terrace. With such a group we could start to communicate and redevelop all the municipalities and other areas of our county.

Your suggestion that Tampa's redevelopment would spare the 700,000 other citizens in the "outlying county" their "pressures" is ludicrous and harkens back to another era. This county is going to go forward together or not at all. As an elected "countywide" commissioner, I will not sacrifice one area of the county for another, nor would I do it for your endorsement. Tampa's redevelopment is extremely important and complex, but it will not improve the infrastructure in New Tampa, Carrollwood or Brandon. It will not effect the growth in south county and around Plant City or the flooding in south Tampa. Redevelopment will not stop urban sprawl. We can solve all these things, but we must "all" be willing to reach out.

-- JIM DAVISON, D.O. [Last modified August 21, 2004, 02:08:25]


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