A Times Editorial
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 18, 2000
Voters in state Senate District 21, which meanders through Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee counties, have a distinct choice between two well-known candidates. State Rep. Les Miller is the Tampa Democrat who remained faithful to his party, fought the popular Republican tide on issues that affected his constituents and pursued an agenda befitting his disproportionately poor, minority district. State Rep. Rudy Bradley is the opportunist from St. Petersburg who switched from Democrat to Republican to ride Jeb Bush's coattails. Miller is the reliable choice for voters in November.
Miller, the House Democratic leader, has brought a progressive agenda to Tallahassee during his eight years in the Legislature. He has been an advocate for raising teachers' salaries and imposing reasonable gun restrictions. Miller also showed leadership by helping to bridge internal disputes within the Democratic Party. He is a political moderate who is well-regarded for his integrity and even temperament. Miller would serve in the finest tradition of the Senate, helping to blunt the partisan excesses that often emerge from the House.
Miller wants to lower school class sizes, further increase teacher pay and focus school curriculum on reading and other fundamentals. He understands that students who cannot learn because of large or undisciplined classroom environments are more likely to turn to crime. Miller is a welcome alternative to knee-jerk politicians who think testing alone will boost scholastic achievement. He is more open than Bradley to removing the influence of special-interest money on the political process, and he is far more resolute about preserving public and environmentally sensitive land. This year, for example, Miller opposed two particularly destructive House measures; one relaxed growth management rules, while another, called the land grab bill, would have handed 100,000 acres or more of wetlands and waterways to private ownership. Bradley didn't similarly and unequivocally support the public's interest in either case. He tried to play both sides.
Over the past two years, Bradley has largely abandoned the issues that matter most to voters in the district.In making the expedient decision to betray the voters who originally sent him to Tallahassee, Bradley also sacrificed his ability to function effectively among his legislative colleagues.
Independent Kim ColJohn is not a serious alternative in the race.
Miller would be an advocate the district could trust. He hasn't forgotten the genuine problems blacks and Hispanics still face or the positive role government can play, especially in the daily lives of less fortunate citizens. His election as senator could assure that crime, equal access to jobs, education, housing and publicly subsidized health care for the indigent remain on Florida's political agenda. He also is less likely to roll with the political tide to serve his own interests at the district's expense. The Times strongly recommends Miller for state Senate, District 21.
The Times offers candidates not recommended by its editorial board an opportunity to reply. Candidates in the races discussed today should send in their replies no later than 5 p.m. Friday to: Philip Gailey, editor of editorials, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. (E-mail: email@example.com; Fax: 893-8675). Replies are limited to 250 words.