AMY WIMMER SCHWARB
INSIDER VS. OUTSIDER: Republican state Rep. Charles Dean is running on his record and his name recognition. His challenger, Democrat Mike Jarrett, says he wants to change how things are done in Tallahassee.
State Rep. Charles Dean has name recognition, the incumbency, tens of thousands of campaigning dollars and the power of the majority party behind him.
Mike Jarrett, a loan officer from Dunnellon who is a lifelong Democrat running for office for the first time, said he knows he has a challenge ahead of him. "I don't have any delusions" about how tough this race will be, Jarrett said.
Jarrett said he was motivated to run against Dean when he learned two pieces of information about politics in Tallahassee. First, he says, he was disturbed by a St. Petersburg Times investigation published earlier this year that detailed how much legislative policy is controlled by high-paid lobbyists. And secondly, he was disturbed by how seldom Dean stood up to the Republican leadership in the state House, namely outgoing House Speaker Johnnie Byrd.
"My problem with Mr. Dean is his failure to be outraged at how things are done in Tallahassee," Jarrett said.
Dean, Citrus County sheriff from 1980 to 1996 and the son of a former longtime Citrus sheriff by the same name, has a long history of public service in Citrus. He says he was not among the legislators who followed Byrd for the sake of winning the speaker's favor.
"I was not always being one of Byrd's sheep," Dean said. But he acknowledged that he has, at times, been frustrated by the legislative process. He said he sometimes went along with the House leadership, hoping legislation he proposed would benefit.
That didn't always happen: A bill he offered this spring would have improved emissions at Progress Energy Corp.'s power plant in Crystal River. The bill died, attacked by grocery store chains because, Dean said, they feared they might be forced to pay higher utility bills.
"You've got to make your choice about whether you want to get your bill passed or what part of your anatomy you want to see get knocked off," Dean said.
The two candidates agree that term limits imposed on legislators have taken their toll on how business gets done in Tallahassee. "We've lost so much tenure, experience, thoughtfulness," Dean said.
Jarrett said he supported term limits before they passed. Now that they are in place, he said he wants them repealed because they take the institutional memory out of the legislature and place too much control in the hands of lobbyists.
"It's a good example of a cure that's worse than the disease," Jarrett said.
Members of the Florida House of Representatives debate policy and make laws for the state. District 43 includes all of Citrus and parts of Levy and Hernando counties. Members serve two-year terms and are paid $29,916 per year.
CHARLES DEAN , 65, of Inverness, is a lifelong Citrus resident. He was a teacher and school administrator before becoming Citrus County sheriff in 1980, a job he held until 1996, when he mounted an unsuccessful state Senate campaign. He was elected to his first term in the state House of Representatives two years ago. Dean has a bachelor's degree from Florida State University and a master's degree from Rollins College. Dean is a member of the Marine Corps League, Detachment No. 819; a past master of the Citrus Masonic Lodge; and a member of the Citrus County Veterans Coalition, among other organizations. He is married and has two children. ASSETS : real estate, stock, annuities, savings accounts, life insurance. LIABILITIES : loan. SOURCES OF INCOME : legislative salary, state pension, cattle farm.
DEMOCRATMIKE JARRETT , 53, of Dunnellon, is a loan officer at Family First Mortgage and has been in the mortgage business for eight years. He graduated from Plant High School in Tampa and attended Hillsborough Community College and Central Florida Community College. A lifelong Democrat, Jarrett is active in the Citrus County Democratic Executive Committee but has never run for office. He is also involved in Junior Achievement in Dunnellon and the Downtown Democratic Club in Inverness. He is married and has one grown son and one grown stepson. ASSETS: home. LIABILITIES : mortgage, car loan. SOURCES OF INCOME : salary.