tampabay.com

Reeder, Cotton define priorities

In the District 51 Republican primary, the Seminole mayor and a former legislative aide tout alternatives to oil.

By ANNE LINDBERG
Published September 4, 2006


Republican voters will decide Tuesday who should oppose Democrat Janet Long in November for the state House District 51 seat.

The choices are Seminole Mayor Dottie Reeder and Bruce Cotton, the former legislative aide to Leslie Waters, the District 51 incumbent. Waters must leave office because of term limitations.

Last week, Reeder and Cotton faced each other in one of the last candidates forums before the primary. Long also had a chance to woo the crowd of mostly seniors, residents of Freedom Square in Seminole where the forum was held.

Cotton touted his commitment to education, fixing the crisis in homeowners insurance, providing affordable housing and combating identity theft.

As the father of a 5-year-old who just started school, Cotton said he wants to make Florida a better place for his son to grow up.

The state needs to overhaul its insurance system to encourage companies to return to Florida, as well as use incentives to lure them back, he said.

"We need to do something soon," Cotton said.

In response to a question about oil drilling off the Florida shore, Cotton said: "The future is not oil exploration. The future is alternative fuels, and the sooner we get on the bandwagon, the sooner we can stop worrying about our beaches."

Reeder opposed offshore drilling and said the country needs to start encouraging the use of alternative fuels. One way to do that, she said, is to prevent the big oil companies from buying alternative technologies and not using them.

"We need (alternative technologies) today," she said.

Reeder, whose mother is a Freedom Square resident, spoke of her 17 years as an elected official in Seminole. She has been mayor for 11 years, but has tendered her resignation, effective Nov. 7, which is Election Day.

She praised World War II veterans, saying they were her mentors and teachers. They taught her about "dignity" and that there was a "reason to fight" even when the price is high, Reeder said.

She criticized the underfunding of Medicare and Medicaid, saying, "There is no dignity in making our seniors select between eating and having prescriptions."

Reeder also briefly referred to the issue of affordable housing, which has been an emotional one this year in Seminole as mobile home parks in the city have been targeted for redevelopment, potentially dispossessing hundreds of mostly elderly residents who own their mobile homes but not the land beneath them.

"I will never forget the year I have spent trying to help people" in mobile homes, Reeder said. "I will not forget."

THE CANDIDATES

Bruce Cotton, 43, was born in Orlando and moved to the Seminole area in 2002. He has an associate's degree in public administration from Daytona Community College and a bachelor's degree in political science and public administration from the University of Central Florida. He is a baccalaureate job placement specialist for St. Petersburg College. He serves on the board of Vincent House. He was named Legislative Staffer of the Year by the Florida Movers and Warehousers. He is a 2005 graduate of Leadership Pinellas, a member of the University of Central Florida Alumni Association and a life member of the National Rifle Association. He has been endorsed by the Pinellas County Council of Firefighters, the Pinellas Park firefighters and the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. He is married and has one son.

ASSETS: Home, car, guns, land in Ohio.

LIABILITIES: Mortgage, second mortgage, credit card.

SOURCES OF INCOME: Salary, investments.

WEB SITE: www.votebrucecotton.com.

Dottie Reeder, 57, was born in Columbia, S.C., and moved to Seminole in 1963. She is a graduate of Seminole High School. She graduated from Tampa College with a degree in business administration and spent a year at the University of South Florida earning a certification in human resource management. She is a health and welfare coordinator for Baycare Health System. She is mayor of Seminole, a position she has held for 11 years. She is past president of the Florida League of Cities, former president of the Pinellas Council of Mayors and the Suncoast League of Cities, and served as chairwoman of the Pinellas County Government Millennium Commission. She is a member of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce and the Seminole Historical Society. She is a member of Faith Presbyterian Church. She has been endorsed by the Florida Hospital Association. She is married and has two daughters and four grandchildren.

ASSETS: Home, cars, retirement account, 401(k).

LIABILITIES: Mortgage, credit cards.

SOURCES OF INCOME: Salary from Baycare and from the city of Seminole.

WEB SITE: www.dottiereeder.org

THE JOB

District 51 includes Seminole, portions of Largo, Pinellas Park, South Pasadena and the west Lealman area. Representatives serve two-year terms and earn $30,996 per year.