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STATE HOUSE 60

A sure thing: A Republican incumbent and his Democratic rival are both confident they have what it takes to win.

RODNEY THRASH
Published October 26, 2004

Ed Homan and Karen Perez are sure of one thing: themselves.

"In any election, historically, the incumbent wins," said Homan, the Tampa Republican seeking re-election to the House District 60 seat.

Considering that health care and education make up the bulk of the state's budget, "I would hate to see the only (full-time) doctor in the Legislature get defeated," he said.

State Rep. Frank Farkas, R-St. Petersburg, is chairman of the state health care committee; Homan is second-in-command.

"I'm the go-to guy in Tallahassee on all the health care issues," Homan said.

Not for long, said Perez, Homan's Democratic challenger. Though she has not been elected, she already uses phrases such as "my constituency" and "when I get to Tallahassee."

In the Aug. 31 primary, Perez defeated Temple Terrace engineer Dave Penoyer handily (64.8 percent to 35.2 percent) to grab the Democratic nomination.

Homan, who did not face any GOP opposition, said the paltry turnout (8,007 people voted in the District 60 primary) goes to show that "people ... are pretty happy with the way" things are.

Perez doesn't it see it that way.

"Our community ... wants to see a better educational system, some relief in health care, someone who stands tall and believes in the safety of their families and their children," she said.

The two candidates differ over expanded use of vouchers to pay for students to attend private schools. Perez, responding to a questionnaire, said "public schools need all the money they can get." Homan said he expects the use of vouchers to grow slowly as enrollment increases, and that private schools should be held to the same standards as public schools.

Perez said she would represent ordinary voters, not special interests.

"Our community is looking for their voice to be heard, not that of special interests," she said. "A representative is supposed to be there as a voice, a mediator for the people of the community they represent."

But the race toward the Nov. 2 general election may not be the cakewalk that the primary was. This time, Perez is the underdog. While the Democrats were duking it out, Homan earned endorsements from the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association and the Florida Hospital Association, and amassed a six-figure war chest.

"I'm working harder than she is," Homan said. "The way you beat an incumbent, you work really hard to do it."

Perez said that, just like Homan, she has walked neighborhoods, knocked on doors, attended candidate forums and talked to voters.

"As much as I understand that money talks," she said, "the vote also talks."

REPUBLICAN

ED HOMAN , 61, represents District 60. The orthopedic surgeon is an assistant clinical professor at the University of South Florida College of Medicine. Homan has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Louisiana State University. He earned his medical degree at LSU, too. Homan is married, has three children from a previous marriage and lives in Temple Terrace. ASSETS: home, retirement account, car. LIABILITIES: mortgage, alimony. INCOME: University of South Florida and the state Legislature. WEB SITE : www.edhoman.com

DEMOCRAT

KAREN PEREZ , 40, is a social worker and therapist at Northside Mental Health Center. The New Tampa resident has bachelor's and master's degrees in social work from the University of South Florida. Perez is divorced and has three children. ASSETS: stocks, savings accounts. LIABILITIES: car loans and student loans. INCOME: salary. WEB SITE: www.kperezhsb2004.com

THE JOB

State House District 60 includes Lake Magdalene, Lutz, Mango, New Tampa, Temple Terrace and Thonotosassa. State representatives serve two-year terms and are paid $29,916 annually.

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