FIXING WHAT'S WRONG: Both Republican John Legg and Democrat Dee Thomas list health care, education and medical malpractice reforms at the top of their to-do lists.
Republican John Legg and Democrat Dee Thomas could not be further apart in their bids for Pasco's House District 46 race, but both are campaigning to convince voters their vision is best for the district.
"I think this will definitely be a race of contrasts" - especially in ideology, said Thomas, a 58-year-old physical therapist.
After 35 years and counting as leader of Ewing & Thomas Inc., one of Pasco's first employee-owned companies, Thomas announced her bid for state Rep. Heather Fiorentino's seat in November 2003.
Legg, 29, a teacher and founder of Dayspring Academy - Pasco's first charter school - announced his intentions in March 2004. Despite accusations of negative-campaigning by Legg supporters, he went on to beat his opponent - attorney John Stewart - in the Aug. 31 primary.
Neither Legg nor Thomas has held public office before.
A self-described "moderate," Thomas said her primary reason for running is to help restore the balance in Republican-dominated Tallahassee.
And center stage on her list of priorities is improving health care. Among her goals is easing pricey prescription drug costs and stopping a trend of working uninsured. Thomas also wants to create a state center to educate others on employee ownership. Another key issue is replacing "Band-Aid" fixes to the medical malpractice crisis with new solutions.
Thomas said she supports caps on jury awards as a stop-gap but in the long-term she wants to set up regional boards across the state to decide medical malpractice cases. The boards would consist of attorneys, physicians and insurers appointed by their own industries.
Topping Legg's list of issues is education, health care and seniors' issues. A self-described "conservative" Republican who is active in political circles, Legg said he has the experience to hit the ground running in Tallahassee.
When it comes to health care, Legg said his goal is to establish a health savings plan to provide people with at least minimal emergency coverage. He also favors lowering prescription drug costs by removing patents to allow for more generic drugs.
On the medical malpractice issue, "I believe we need to do caps," he said. But of equal concern to Legg is ensuring in-home care for seniors so people can "age at home with dignity."
A major goal of Legg's platform is to raise student academic standards - particularly in exceptional education programs. As a teacher and Dayspring's founder, he said it is imperative to give more control to school administrators in classifying students.
Creating an environment where corporations are encouraged via tax incentives to donate to public and private schools would help education, he said.
Thomas said she favors higher pay for teachers to attract and retain good staff. She also spoke of corporate scholarships and apprenticeships to aid college students.
State House of Representatives District 46 covers west Pasco County, stretching from Port Richey to the Hernando County line. Representatives serve two-year terms and earn $29,916 per year.
JOHN LEGG, 29, is the founder of Pasco's first charter school, the Dayspring Academy. Born in Brooksville, he was raised in Hudson and now lives in Port Richey. He received an associate's degree from Pasco-Hernando Community College in 1994 and a bachelor's degree in social work from the University of South Florida in 1995. He is deputy administrator for Dayspring and teaches middle school and high school there. He worked as staff director for state Rep. Heather Fiorentino from 1998 to 2001. He has worked as a campaign consultant for the Republican Party of Florida, as well as a community intervention director for Action Youth Care Inc. His other roles include work as a drug prevention coordinator for the Pasco County Housing Authority and work with Community Aging and Retirement Services in Port Richey. He also served on the Pasco County Coalition for the Homeless board of directors. He is single and has no children. ASSETS: Home, automobile, retirement and savings account. LIABILITIES: Mortgage, car loan and credit cards. SOURCE OF INCOME: Dayspring Academy salary.
DEE THOMAS, 58, is president of Ewing & Thomas Inc. - an employee-owned physical therapy practice in New Port Richey. Born in Allentown, Pa., she began working in Pasco 35 years ago and moved to New Port Richey from Pinellas County last year. She received a bachelor's degree in physical therapy from Ithaca College in 1968. She was the first woman to chair the national Employee Stock Option Association based in Washington, D.C. Her civic roles include memberships on the PACE center for Girls board of directors, the Calusa Business and Professional Women's group, the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, Hernando Pasco Hospice's advisory board, two industry associations and a community board member for Gulf High School. She is married and has no children. ASSETS: Homes in New Port Richey and Palm Harbor, New Mexico cabin and office building in New Port Richey. LIABILITIES: car payment, mortgage. SOURCE OF INCOME: Ewing & Thomas salary. WEB SITE: www.vote4dee2004.com