VETERAN VS. NEWCOMER: Republican Frank Farkas says his years in the state House show he's the right choice. Political newcomer Liz McCallum, a Democrat, says she brings a new vision for the district.
Since he was elected in 1998, State Rep. Frank Farkas has fought off two tough opponents for his legislative seat.
As Farkas attempts to win one last election before term limits would force him out of the state House, the St. Petersburg Republican once again finds himself in a hotly contested campaign. This time, he is being challenged by a political newcomer, Democrat Liz McCallum.
The two candidates are very different, both in background and political views.
Farkas, a chiropractor, said he is working hard to bring major changes to the state's health care system. As chairman of the House Committee on Health Regulation, he said he's proud of legislation he helped pass that promotes health savings accounts and also will help patients with high deductibles shop for the cheapest hospital or clinics.
Farkas said he also is committed to improving the state's education system and has pledged to give teachers every resource necessary to do their jobs.
Having lived in St. Petersburg most of his life, Farkas is stressing his roots in the community. McCallum moved to District 52 just a few weeks before the filing deadline.
"I just think you have to know an area before you can serve the people," Farkas said.
McCallum said she's already come to know the people in her district just by going door to door and listening to their concerns. McCallum said Farkas has "squandered" the opportunity to serve his constituents.
"It doesn't matter where I was raised," she said. "It matters that I understand their needs."
Like her opponent, McCallum has made education and health care, along with job creation, her top priorities.
McCallum said she wants to create more competition among health care providers in Florida. She said the system is currently overburdened with patients. She said she also wants to expand the state's KidCare program, which offers affordable, low-cost health insurance for Florida's uninsured children.
McCallum said she is committed to changing the way education is discussed in Florida and wants it to be more closely tied to the state's economic future.
McCallum was born in Ohio and attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She is the author of The Florida Guide to Political Appointments , a book for those interested in taking an active role in government. She also gives seminars on the subject.
After living in California, France, England and China, McCallum and her husband settled in Valrico in 2000. They are now living in a rented home in St. Petersburg's Gateway area and are searching for a house in the district.
State House District 52 includes parts of St. Petersburg, Largo and Clearwater. State representatives serve two-year terms and earn $29,916 annually.
FRANK FARKAS, 48, grew up in Wisconsin and moved to St. Petersburg with his family in 1972. He founded the Farkas Chiropractic Clinic and has been president of the Florida Chiropractors Association. After running unsuccessfully for a legislative seat in 1996, he was elected to the House in 1998 and is chairman of the House Committee on Health Regulation. Farkas graduated from St. Petersburg Catholic High School, St. Petersburg Junior College, Eckerd College and Palmer College of Chiropractic. He is married and has two children. ASSETS: chiropractic practice and office building, home, investments, life insurance. LIABILITIES: mortgage on office, loan. SOURCE OF INCOME: clinic.
LIZ MCCALLUM, 35, was born in Ohio and attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Before graduating, she took a job as a manager with a large entertainment company, Benson's Inc. She later worked for Aramark, managing the daily operation of the company's eight cafeterias. She completed a bachelor's degree in history from Miami University in 1997. McCallum has worked as a political consultant and is the author of a book on Florida politics. She is married and has a young daughter. ASSETS: investments, stocks, art collection. LIABILITIES: car payments. SOURCE OF INCOME: political consulting business.