STRESSING DISTRICT'S IMPORTANCE: Both candidates agree the area should have an active voice, but they differ on what should be stressed.
Florida Senate District 3 is made up of three whole counties plus pieces of 10 more.
State Sen. Nancy Argenziano says her spread-out district deserves a full-time senator with a reputation for bringing a loud voice to the needs of the district. Her challenger, Democrat Barry Brooks of Tallahassee, says people in the district deserve more than that.
"As a constituent of Nancy Argenziano's, as I'm looking at the seat, I didn't feel that she represented my values or my interests," said Brooks, a chief deputy tax collector in Leon County who has spent 16 years as a government staff member, mostly at the state level. "There's no challenge being made to her."
Brooks thinks Argenziano could do better on some of the issues he has made the focus of his campaign: economic development in rural areas of Florida, including most of the counties in District 3; access to affordable health care; and education reform. Brooks opposes school vouchers and supports finding money for constitutionally required prekindergarten.
Brooks has even stepped into the arena on which Argenziano has built her reputation. He opposes using the water of North Florida to support development in rapidly growing South Florida. He mentions that he worked on water issues as a legislative staff member.
Brooks' platform frustrates Argenziano, who notes that the economic health of rural Florida and help for agricultural interests, two cornerstones of Brooks' campaign, have been some of Argenziano's pet issues.
"Has this guy's head been stuck in the sand?" Argenziano said. "Everything he's talking about, I am doing."
Argenziano also points out that her close ties to the leadership in the Senate, in addition to the fact that Republicans carry a heavy majority in the Florida Legislature, make Brooks' ideas pipe dreams. "He will not have the ability to do these things as a minority member and as a freshman member," she said. "I'm not saying I like it; that's just how it works."
Both Argenziano and Brooks acknowledge that Citrus County voters will play a large role in who wins the District 3 seat.
Despite the fact that larger counties, such as Marion County, are part of the district, more than three-fourths of the district is made up of just parts of counties. As a result, Citrus County has more voters in the District 3 race than any other.
Argenziano, who lives in Dunnellon, stresses the importance of giving Citrus a local voice in the state Senate. Brooks, meanwhile, maintains that he could be more helpful to the district as a whole because he lives in Tallahassee, where decisions are made.
State Senate District 3 covers Citrus County east of U.S. 19, follows the coastline northwest to Tallahassee and extends east to Baker County. Senators are elected to four-year terms and are paid $29,916 a year.
NANCY ARGENZIANO , 49, of Dunnellon was elected in 1996 to represent District 43 in the state House, then left in 2002 before her term limits expired to run for the state Senate, which she does full time. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native has lived in Florida since 1971 and in Citrus County since 1987. She managed an animal hospital after earning her degree in preveterinary medicine from Broward Community College. She has also worked in real estate and stained glass artistry. She is single and has a grown son . ASSETS: homes, property, bank account, motor home. LIABILITIES: mortgages, loans. SOURCE OF INCOME: legislative salary.
BARRY G. BROOKS , 40, of Tallahassee is the chief deputy tax collector of Leon County. He lives in Tallahassee, where he has worked for various state and county agencies since 1988. His employment history includes two years as a governmental analyst for Gov. Lawton Chiles; six years as a staff member at the state House of Representatives; and two separate stints with the Florida Department of Transportation. He received an associate's degree from Tallahassee Community College; a bachelor's degree in criminology from Florida State University; and a master's degree from Florida State. He is married and has a 2-year-old son . ASSETS: life insurance, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, vehicles, boat . LIABILITIES: mortgage, loan, credit cards. SOURCES OF INCOME: salary.