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WHO REPLACES BYRD? A Republican, a Democrat and a Libertarian vie for House Speaker Johnnie Byrd's seat, which covers Brandon, Plant City and part of Pasco County.

Times Staff Writer
Published October 26, 2004

A three-way race for District 62 may test party loyalties in east Hillsborough County.

Republican Rich Glorioso, Democrat Ashley Smith and Libertarian James C. Clifford are seeking the seat being vacated by House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, a Plant City Republican.

In recent years, Republicans have held the seat and a narrow edge over registered Democrats in a district that spans Brandon suburbs, Plant City and part of Pasco County. But Democrats and Libertarians don't think the GOP has a hold on the region.

"I have 30 years experience of understanding the issues here and knowing the people in this area," said Smith, 59, who lives in Valrico. A retired Hillsborough public school teacher and principal, Smith would raise teachers' salaries and supports school accountability. He also would retool the class size amendment to target early grades, due to funding limitations.

Like his opponents, Smith opposes a bullet train. The Democrat would like to go through the state budget and strip away wasteful local projects, called turkeys. He is an advocate of managed growth and would encourage small businesses to offer health insurance. He said he would raise taxes only if a catastrophic event forced a need.

His Republican rival is Rich Glorioso, the victor of a bitter, three-way GOP primary. Glorioso is a two-term Plant City commissioner and retired Air Force colonel who moved to Plant City about 10 years ago. He is campaigning on traditional Republican themes of fewer taxes, conservative social values and little government regulation. He wants the state to create a five-year budget.

Glorioso thinks local school districts could spend money more efficiently, but wasn't sure how lawmakers could eliminate district-level waste. He would seek transportation funding to connect Interstate 4 to the Crosstown to the Tampa Port. He also is campaigning on the need to attract high-technology jobs to the region.

Although the district has been represented by a Republican for over a decade, Glorioso, 60, is not taking the election for granted.

"I treat each candidate like a viable candidate," Glorioso said.

Libertarian James C. Clifford moved to Brandon after retiring as an Army major in 1993. For two years, he has worked at the Peace River Center, a mental health nonprofit in Bartow, and now is the chief financial officer.

Clifford said he entered the race to stop what he sees is an erosion of personal and property rights under the dominant Republican and Democratic parties. He advocates drastic cutbacks to state agencies for education and transportation.

He has vowed not to raise taxes and would eliminate the state's intangibles tax. Clifford opposes incarcerating substance abusers, because he does not see how jail time helps them recover.

Like his opponents, Clifford supports a ballot initiative to notify parents when minors seek abortions. But he sees few other similarities.

"What we need in the Legislature is not more lawyers and administrators and community people," said Clifford, 53, who holds two degrees in accounting. "What we need there is somebody who can understand numbers."

- LETITIA STEIN, Times staff writer


RICH GLORIOSO, 60, is a retired Air Force colonel who moved to Plant City 10 years ago. He was elected to two terms on the Plant City Commission. He was appointed to the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which he has chaired for five years, and the Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission. Raised in Danbury, Conn., Glorioso earned a bachelor's in mathematics from Northeastern University in Boston and has a master's in human resource management from Central Michigan University. He is a member of the American Legion and other veterans groups. He and his wife, Judy, have two grown sons and five grandchildren. ASSETS: home, condos, stock investments. LIABILITIES: mortgage. INCOME: military retirement, investments, rental property. WEB SITE:


ASHLEY SMITH, 59, is a retired public school teacher and administrator living in Valrico. Smith began his teaching career as a social studies instructor at Plant City High. He has served as principal at Buchanan and Eisenhower middle schools and held assistant principal positions for almost 10 years at Armwood High. Before retiring in 2001, he also was president of the Florida Association of School Administrators from 2000 to 2001. A North Carolina native, Smith earned a bachelor's degree in education and a master's in administration from the University of South Florida. He served more than three years in the Air Force. He has lived east Hillsborough for 30 years. He and his wife, Ellyn, the principal at Seffner Elementary, have two grown children. ASSETS: house, investments. LIABILITIES: mortgage, car loan. INCOME: school retirement. WEB SITE: none.


JAMES C. CLIFFORD, 53, is the chief financial officer for the Peace River Center, a nonprofit mental health organization in Bartow. He has lived in Brandon since 1993. About four years ago, he discovered the Libertarian Party after growing disenchanted with Republican and Democrats. Born in Maryland, Clifford moved frequently growing up. He served in the Army for 20 years, rising to a major in field artillery. He earned a degree in accounting from Loyola College in Baltimore and a master's in accountancy from the University of South Florida. A ham radio operator, Clifford and his wife, Anne, have one son. ASSETS: house, rental property, investments, land in Virginia. LIABILITIES: mortgage. INCOME: military retirement, salary from Peace River Center. WEB SITE:


State House District 62 covers the northeastern corner of Hillsborough County, including Plant City and Valrico. It includes a small piece of Pasco County. Representatives serve two-year terms and earn $29,916 a year.

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