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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
The race for House District 53 features a lawyer and a recent college graduate who are a generation apart in age and in politics.
Democrat Rick Kriseman is the lawyer, who has served on the St. Petersburg City Council since 2000. Kriseman, 44, is married with two children and describes himself as a moderate who is socially liberal.
Republican Thomas Piccolo is a recent graduate of the University of South Florida. If elected, the Legislature would be his first professional job out of college. But Piccolo, 23, who had a brief stint as a student worker at the White House, is no stranger to Tallahassee; as student government president of USF, he fought for funding and legislation to help college students. He says he'll continue if elected.
On education, Kriseman wants good teachers to have higher pay, and wants to reduce the student-teacher ratio. He thinks the state should fund the class-size reduction mandates and should not ask voters to reconsider. (Piccolo also supports the class-size amendment, but wants to focus on grades K-5.)
Kriseman wants to require community service for all public high school graduates.
Both candidates say stabilizing the property insurance market and giving homeowners some relief on property taxes are a top priority. But they differ in their approach.
Kriseman wants to phase out Citizens Property Insurance, the state-backed insurer of last resort.
Kriseman is interested in allowing the Save Our Homes cap to move with families. He also wants to extend the cap to property that serves as residential rentals.
Piccolo wants to double the homestead exemption to $50,000 and encourage bonuses for developers who build dense, affordable housing. "Homeowners deserve property tax relief now," said Piccolo, who has criticized Kriseman for not significantly lowering St. Petersburg's tax rate.
And when it comes to insurance, Piccolo wants to join with other Southeastern states to create a trust fund - paid for by each state according to its natural disaster history - that would cover reinsurance (backup insurance for insurance companies). He also wants companies that provide other kinds of insurance, such as auto, to be required to offer property coverage if they operate in Florida.
Richard Kriseman, 44, was born in Detroit and raised in St. Petersburg. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in 1984 and a law degree from Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport in 1987. Before opening his own law practice in 1993 in St. Petersburg, Kriseman was a lawyer with the firms Englander & Fischer, P.A., and Stolba, Englander & Shames, P.A. He has served on the St. Petersburg City Council since 2000. He is married and has two children. Assets: Property, stocks. Liabilities: Mortgage. Source of income: Law practice, City Council. Web site: www.kriseman.com.
Thomas Piccolo, 23, was born in Buffalo, N.Y., and moved to St. Petersburg as an infant. He graduated from St. Petersburg Catholic High School and the University of South Florida, where he played goalie on the school's ice hockey team. He has served as both treasurer and president of student government at USF. He worked briefly in the White House office of presidential personnel in 2006. He is single. Assets: None. Liabilities: None. Source of income: None. Web site: www.thomaspiccolo.com
State representative, District 53
District 53 covers north central St. Petersburg (see map, Page 22). Representatives serve two-year terms and earn $30,996 per year.