On the same page: State Rep. Faye Culp and opponent Deborah Cope can at least agree that education, transportation and the economy should be major areas of focus for the winner.
This race pits a longtime legislator with a reputation for relentless campaigning against a political newcomer.
State Rep. Faye Culp, an incumbent who faced no opposition in the Republican primary, expects to easily fend off Democrat Deborah Cope, an environmentalist and information technology consultant who also ran unopposed in her party's primary.
Both candidates cite education as pillars of their campaigns.
Culp said she wants to increase teacher pay and keep the Bright Futures scholarship program merit-based. She also favors allowing districts to have more control over how they spend state funds. Fully funding Florida's state colleges and universities also is a priority, Culp said.
If re-elected, improving children's services will be a priority, Culp said. Her mother died when she was 4, and Culp was raised in a quasifoster care system in rural Mississippi.
Culp and Cope also agree that transportation and the economy should be major areas of focus for District 57's representative.
But Cope charges that Culp offers little more than lip service to the issues for which she promises to advocate. Six years under Culp have provided scant relief to the area's most pressing needs: job creation, economic improvement and growth management, she said.
"We need someone who represents the things that are important to voters in Hillsborough County," said Cope, chairwoman of the Tampa Bay Sierra Club. "My opponent pretty much votes the party line."
Cope said voters would be surprised to learn that Culp voted against raising teachers' salaries and cast a vote to make cuts to the Bright Futures program.
Culp said it is possible that she voted against those issues because House members often have to vote down amendments or bills when they are presented by a rival party or are out of context with a bill already on the floor.
If elected, Cope said she would fight for increases in teachers' salaries, the creation of a light rail system and an affordable health care system.
Culp surmises she will win the election and hopes to garner 80 percent of the vote. She says she is already campaigning for Speaker of the House for 2008.
"I am by far out-campaigning," said Culp, who claims she attends at least 15 campaign-related events per week. "I've only seen my opponent a few times."
She added: "I have more energy than probably anybody else that you will ever meet. I have the experience to provide leadership not just in the district but for the whole state."
Of Culp, opponent Cope said: "I'm kind of hoping that she will underestimate me. I have a lot of people interested and a lot of people who want to see Faye gone."
State House District 57 includes South Tampa, Town 'N Country and parts of Westchase. House members serve two-year terms and earn $29,916 a year.
FAYE CULP , 64, is a native of Kilmichael, Miss., who moved to Tampa in 1968. A former Georgia schoolteacher, she served on the Hillsborough County School Board for four years. She also worked previously for IBM in San Francisco as an educational services representative. She was first elected to the Florida State House of Representatives in 1994. An artist, Culp earned a master's degree in art from the University of South Florida. She holds a bachelor's degree in business education from Mississippi Unversity College for Women. Culp also is on the State 4-H Foundation Board and is a member of the National Migrant Education Council. She is married and has two grown children. ASSETS: real estate, insurance policies, individual retirement accounts and an annuity. LIABILITIES: credit card. SOURCE OF INCOME: State representative salary and Florida Retirement System.
DEBORAH COPE , 43, is an independent information technology consultant. She has previously worked for Oracle Corp., Price Waterhouse and the New Jersey Department of Treasury. Born in Springfield, Vt., Cope moved to Tampa in 1989 from the Philadelphia suburbs. She earned her associate's degree in computer science from Burlington County College and her bachelor's of science from Thomas A. Edison State College. Rutgers University awarded Cope a master's degree in business management. Cope, who also is president of Tampa Bay's Sierra Club and a United Way volunteer, is married. ASSETS: real estate, pleasure boat, money market account, bank account, mutual fund, individual retirement account and stock. LIABILITIES: mortgage. SOURCE OF INCOME: job.