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A fresh face takes on a familiar name from the '80s
State House of Representatives: District 54
By PAUL SWIDER
Published October 25, 2006
A political newcomer is challenging a candidate hoping to return to office after years in the private sector in the race for the Florida House District 54 seat.
Jim Frishe spent three terms as a Republican representing House District 57 in the 1980s. He is facing Betsy Valentine, a psychologist who has never run for office.
Frishe won his party's nomination is an upset over well-funded Rod Jones, son of state Sen. Dennis Jones. Frishe was overmatched in money but worked door to door and overcame last-minute advertising.
Valentine was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. She qualified for the ballot by petition, as did Frishe.
Frishe has spent the 16 years since he was in the Legislature working as a leader for Pinellas County Republicans. He also worked on affordable-housing developments in west-central Florida. He counts school vouchers and a revamped property tax system as issues he will champion. Of course, insurance reform is an important consideration for him.
"As a conservative Republican, I hate to say it, but I think we have to go to a federal regulatory system," said Frishe, whose home in unincorporated Pinellas County is insured by Citizens Property Insurance, the state-run insurer of last resort.
Frishe is a graduate of Leadership St. Pete and is president-elect of the Pasadena Golf Club Estates Civic Association. He also served two years as senior warden of St. Vincent's Episcopal Church, worked in cold-night shelters, served on nonprofit boards and helped coach a youth soccer team.
Valentine also is interested in creating a fair and affordable insurance system, but she wants to emphasize the damage rising property taxes have done to small businesses.
She advocates increased state funding for public schools and is against allowing drilling for oil off Florida's west coast. Valentine is also an advocate of renewable energy resources and has said she'd like Florida to become a leader in solar power.
"It's such a shame that we here in the Sunshine State are not using solar power to the max," Valentine said.
Valentine is a retired clinical psychologist who has worked in the private sector and for the city and county of San Francisco, the Public Defender's Office and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
She has also been a consultant with such companies as Seaman's Bank, HBO and Time-Warner. Valentine is active in the Sierra Club and in developing its policy positions.
James C. "Jim" Frishe, 57, moved to Florida in 1956. He was elected to the House from District 57 in 1984, before which he worked as a manager for an insurance agency. He worked previously as a high school teacher, and has worked in affordable-housing investments and on cell phone tower business. He is divorced and has three children. Assets: Car, stock, personal property, cash. Liabilities: None. Source of income: Consulting on affordable-housing projects.
Elizabeth "Betsy" Valentine, 65, is from St. Louis but has lived and worked primarily in San Francisco and New York City before retiring to Florida in 2003. Valentine has 30 years' experience as a clinical psychologist and more than 20 years of public service in labor economic research, education, program planning and development at various levels of government. She is on the Pinellas Democratic Executive Committee and serves as a board member of the Greater Pinellas Democratic Club. She is single. Assets: Investments, home. Liabilities: Home mortgage. Sources of income: Social Security, IRA, investments.
State representative, District 54
District 54 runs along the beach and island communities from Clearwater to Fort De Soto, including Tierra Verde and Isla del Sol (see map, Page 22). Dips slightly inland at Clearwater and Largo. Representatives serve two-year terms and earn $30,996 per year.