A wide divide: U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young and his Democratic opponent, Bob Derry, disagree strongly on issues such as tax cuts and the Patriot Act.
U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young says he is running for an 18th term in Congress because he has the know-how and clout to get things done for Pinellas County.
"As long as I'm able to do a good job for the county and do good things for my district, I am willing to run again," said Young, a Republican.
Democratic challenger Bob Derry says he's running because he wants to fix problems he says Young hasn't tackled: record-setting federal deficits, an erosion of civil liberties and a lack of affordable health insurance.
"I'm not sure how to phrase it, but I know we have to change what's going on," Derry said.
Young has spent 34 years in the U.S. House and has ascended to chairman of the Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful posts in Congress. That's one reason he frequently is in a position to announce new federally financed projects for the Tampa Bay area.
Among the recent ones: A new research unit named after Young and his wife at the Moffitt Cancer Center and a new military science center at the University of South Florida. He also sponsored a recent bill for $2-billion in hurricane relief.
Young said one of his proudest accomplishments was establishing a national bone marrow registry that identifies donors who could save the lives of people with bone diseases.
"Frankly, I have brought a lot of projects to Pinellas County," Young said. Young expects to be chairman of an Appropriations subcommittee for defense spending next year, rather than chairman of the full committee, and said he wants to use that position to make sure disabled soldiers are getting the full benefits they deserve.
Derry said that in spite of Young's service on the Appropriations Committee, Florida still ranks low in per capita federal funding for education and other matters. Instead of bringing home the bacon, he says, Young "brings home the sizzle."
Derry said Young has supported the Bush administration tax cuts and budgets, which have run up deficits to record levels.
"I think the American public would support universal health care over tax cuts," he said. Derry said he would support a national health care plan that would allow people to buy into Medicare, even at young ages.
Derry said he believes the Patriot Act has gone too far in peeling back American civil liberties. He promises to support a package of reforms designed to prevent government officials from investigating Americans without good cause. "The government can still go in and look at your library records, but they need to convince a judge there's a good reason for doing so," he said.
Derry also pledged to appoint a commission to rewrite the lengthy and confusing U.S. tax code.
Young said he would support a program in which the federal government grouped together large numbers of citizens to obtain lower-cost health insurance. He says the economy is on the upswing and he sees no reason to repeal the tax cuts.
THE JOB:Members of Congress serve two-year terms and are paid $158,100 per year. The 10th congressional district generally includes Pinellas County south of Clearwater, plus Dunedin and Palm Harbor. But portions of southern St. Petersburg are not included.
C.W. BILL YOUNG, 73, of Largo, has represented the St. Petersburg area in Congress since 1970. He is the senior member in the Florida congressional delegation and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Before his election to the U.S. House, he spent 10 years as a state senator. Born in Pennsylvania, Young moved to Florida in 1946. He has an honorary degree from the University of South Florida, awarded in 1998. He is married and has three sons, as well as three grown sons from a previous marriage. ASSETS: House in Virginia, townhouse in Indian Shores, savings and retirement accounts. LIABILITIES: Mortgages. SOURCE OF INCOME: Congressional salary.
DEMOCRATBOB DERRY, 68, of St. Petersburg, founded a company that oversees finances for people on Social Security and other government programs who were not competent to handle their own transactions. He recently sold the business. He previously worked in banking, including a stint with the Resolution Trust Corp., which took over failed savings and loans. This is Derry's first campaign for public office in Florida; he also ran for mayor of Rockford, Ill., in the 1970s. Derry graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in commerce and spent nine years in the U.S. Navy. He moved to Florida 17 years ago. He is married and has three grown children. ASSETS: A condo in St. Petersburg and half interest in another condo; savings and retirement accounts. LIABILITIES: None. SOURCE OF INCOME: Pension, Social Security, payments from a business sale.