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Candidate says driving record not a key factor
By ED QUIOCO
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 1, 2000
PALM HARBOR -- Chris Gregg, a candidate for state House District 48, has accumulated 20 traffic tickets in 13 years, three driver's license suspensions and a bankruptcy that stemmed from a traffic accident in which he was cited for careless or improper driving.
Gregg, 30, said Monday he does not think his driving record would have any bearing on his qualifications or whether he would be a good legislator.
"As far as being a legislator, I don't think your personal life and your speeding tickets should be considered," he said. "I think that's not directly linked to how you will be a legislator."
Gregg, a political newcomer with no party affiliation, is taking on state Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, who is going for his second term in the Legislature.
District 48 covers some or all of Safety Harbor, Oldsmar, Palm Harbor and Clearwater in Pinellas County and Citrus Park in northwestern Hillsborough County.
Half the tickets Gregg has received since 1987 were for speeding. But he also has been cited for careless or improper driving, improper passing on a hill and failure to obey traffic signs or devices, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
His license has been suspended twice since 1990 for accumulating too many points on his driving record. His license also was suspended in June because his insurance policy was canceled. Shortly after his suspension in June, Gregg corrected the problem and now has a valid driver's license, according to state officials.
"I don't know what to tell you," Gregg said. "A driver's license record doesn't mean anything. I guess you could say I speed a lot and I get a lot of tickets."
Gregg filed a petition under Chapter 7 of the federal bankruptcy code three years after a 1993 car accident in which he rear-ended another vehicle in Tampa. He said his insurance company had filed for bankruptcy, so when it came to settling the claims, the driver of the other car went after him.
To shield himself from the claims, Gregg said he filed for bankruptcy on the advice of his attorney.
"This is something that I was forced to do that I didn't want to do," Gregg said. "I didn't have a choice. As far as being responsible with my finances, this has nothing to do with that."
Gregg said he wants voters to focus on his political issues instead of his driving record.
"I'm working on not speeding that much," he said. "That's all I can say. Everyone has a vice, right?"
Gregg said if elected, he will call for studies to determine whether the state's water supply will be sufficient to support Florida's growth. He supports more planning to make sure roads and public services will support future development.
Gregg promised that he would not accept money from political action committees or "big business money." "When your governor and your representatives all take money from pro-growth political action committees, they will not say, "Let's limit growth,' " Gregg said. "I will never accept money that will compromise my decisionmaking. I will never be a bought-and-paid-for candidate."
Gregg was a member of the Reform Party but decided to run without a party to avoid party politics. Gregg, who lives in Palm Harbor, graduated from Gaither High School in Tampa and was in the Air Force Reserve from 1991 to 1998 as a flight medic.
Bilirakis, 37, the son of longtime U.S. Rep. Michael Bilirakis, graduated from Tarpon Springs High School, the University of Florida and received a law degree from Stetson University College of Law in 1989.
- Ed Quioco can be reached at (727) 445-4183 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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