Candidates spar again: Incumbent Tom Anderson isn't afraid to buck the Republican Party line. Opponent Kevin Jensen focuses on improved education.
The race for state House of Representatives District 45 is a rematch of 2002: Republican Tom Anderson faces Democrat Kevin Jensen.
Anderson, the former mayor of Dunedin, enjoyed broader name recognition and fundraising and easily won the contest two years ago. He said he made good on his promise to serve his district.
"If anyone looks at the record, I get results," Anderson said. "I got 10 out of 12 bills passed."
But Jensen, a college teacher in Clearwater, thinks he is more prepared this time. "I didn't go away after I lost," Jensen said. He went on to become president of the North Pinellas Democratic Club, then chairman of the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee, before stepping down to run for office.
Jensen describes himself as a moderate who appeals more to the voters in the district, which includes parts of Pinellas and Pasco counties. He said his first goal would be to land a decent committee assignment so he could introduce ideas to Republican lawmakers.
Education is a large part of Jensen's campaign platform and he wants to protect the Bright Futures scholarship program. He opposes an expansion of private school vouchers.
Anderson said he also opposes more vouchers and, like Jensen, thinks private schools receiving state money should be held to the same standard as public schools. Both men say teacher salaries should be higher to make them competitive with other states.
Anderson has not always hewed the party line. In October 2003, he was one of three Republican House members who voted against an emergency bill that called for reinserting a feeding tube into Schiavo.
If re-elected, Anderson said he plans to introduce legislation that will allow the purchase of prescription drugs from Canada on a competitive basis and legislation that will give grandparents more rights in child welfare cases. He also said he will introduce a bill to place a defibrillators in all state parks.
District 45 stretches from Dunedin up the coastal areas of north Pinellas and into Pasco, covering most of Holiday and the eastern unincorporated areas of New Port Richey. State representatives serve two-year terms and make $29,916 a year.
TOM ANDERSON, 72, was mayor of Dunedin before winning the State House District 45 seat two years ago. Born in New York, Anderson got his master's of business administration from George Washington University in 1970 and worked for the federal government before moving to Florida. Anderson has been involved with the Downtown Dunedin Community Redevelopment Agency, the Pasco-Pinellas Area Agency on Aging and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Advisory Board, among other groups. He is married. ASSETS: two properties, investments, bonds. LIABILITIES: none. SOURCE OF INCOME: investment income, rental income and state salary.
KEVIN JENSEN, 46, is an adjunct teacher at St. Petersburg College in Clearwater and was chairman of the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee before stepping down to seek state office. Jensen got his bachelor's and master's degrees from Towson University. He was an instructor for the American Red Cross and served as an education officer and spokesman for Palm Harbor Fire Rescue. He has also worked as an emergency medical technician for Med Fleet ambulance service in Pasco. He is married and has a son. ASSETS: home, investments. LIABILITIES: loan, mortgage. SOURCE OF INCOME: teaching salary. WEB SITE: www.vote4kevin.com