By ALISA ULFERTS, Times Staff Writer
Published October 25, 2006
Republicans had a practice run during the primary, but on election day all voters will have a chance to do something new to Floridians: vote for a chief financial officer.
Lawmakers created the position in 2002 after voters consolidated the six state Cabinet positions into three. Current CFO Tom Gallagher, who had no opponent, took office in 2003 without appearing on the ballot.
And whether Floridians pick current Senate President Tom Lee, R-Valrico, or retired Florida Bank of America president Alex Sink, a Democrat from Thonotosassa, voters will be choosing the candidate they believe most capable of bringing stability to the homeowners insurance market, which has been rocked by hurricanes in recent years.
Lee's insurance fix is intertwined with the work of the Property and Casualty Insurance Reform Committee, which Lee asked Gov. Jeb Bush to form after the last legislative session.
Some of the things he's asked the reform committee to look at include expanding the amount of reinsurance the state offers.
Insurance companies buy reinsurance to protect against claims - especially for storms - and the skyrocketing price of reinsurance from the private market is driving up the price of homeowners policies.
Lee says more state-backed reinsurance will lead to more companies writing more Florida policies and, hopefully, siphoning people away from Citizens, currently the biggest property insurer in the state.
"This isn't just a political issue for me," says Lee, who has seen the insurance on his commercial properties skyrocket.
Sink wants to ask other coastal states to join together to enlarge the risk pool for homeowners.
Like Lee, she wants to expand access to the reinsurance the state helps secure for private companies. She wants to unify building codes across the state and beef up the insurance consumer advocate's office.
"As insurance regulator, I can hold their (companies') feet to the fire. Nobody owns me," Sink says.
Tom Lee, 44 was born in San Antonio, Texas, and moved to Brandon when he was 7. He has served in the state Senate since 1996 and has been Senate president since 2004. Earlier, he was president of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce. He graduated from Brandon High School, Hillsborough Community College and the University of Tampa. He is vice president of Sabal Homes of Florida, a development company. He is divorced and has two children. Assets: House, savings, stocks. Liabilities: Mortgage. Sources of income: Salary, state of Florida. Web site: tomleeforcfo.com.
Alex Sink, 58, was born in Mount Airy, N.C., and moved to Florida in 1984. She moved to the Tampa Bay area in 1989. A retired banker, she served as the Florida president of Bank of America at the height of her career. She is on the board of the Florida Nature Conservancy. She graduated from Mount Airy High School and Wake Forest University. She is married to former gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride and has two children. Assets: House, savings, stocks. Liabilities: Mortgage, equity credit line. Sources of income: Retirement accounts, investments. Web site: www.alexsinkforcfo.com.
Chief financial officer
The chief financial officer oversees the Department of Financial Services, which is responsible for assisting consumers who need information and help related to financial services, including banking, securities and insurance. The department also tracks all money moving in and out of state government. The salary is $127,771.
[Last modified October 24, 2006, 21:43:14]
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