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    A Times Editorial

    Candidate replies

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 21, 2000


    The Times offers candidates not recommended by its editorial board an opportunity to reply. Here are some of those replies.

    John F. Cosgrove

    Democratic candidate for treasurer/insurance commissioner

    In the campaign for treasurer/insurance commissioner, Rep. John Cosgrove is the only choice for voters that want public officials of commitment, integrity and experience.

    Voters have a clear opportunity to elect John Cosgrove, who has been committed to this campaign from the beginning, not when back-room party bosses decided a career politician should serve their political interest, not the public interest.

    This election should be determined on the best ideas, not the most name identification. People deserve to know where candidates stand on the issues, not where they hide from debates and forums.

    I have specific plans. You can see them on my web site, www.cosgrove2000.com. My opponent lists his fundraising results, not his public policy. You deserve more. If you want the candidate with the most bread, it is not me. If you want the public policy beef, I am for you.

    My campaign is joined by the teachers, law enforcement, working families, the Florida Consumer Action Network, small business owners and political leaders of all parties and no party.

    After 17 years in the Legislature, I know the importance of public service. My accomplishments for our citizens have been recognized by many organizations for the right reason. I have made a difference, not just taken up space.

    Sue Humphreys

    Democratic candidate for state House, District 49

    Another slap in the face for the voters of House District 49. According to the St. Petersburg Times, these voters should be content with a legislator who "has not been a leader." To play down the fact that this representative has been recorded "absent" 13 out of 16 meetings of the House Appropriations Committee for Transportation and Economic Development is an insult to these voters. He is also marked "absent" for three out of four meetings in his assigned Committee on Reapportionment and one out of three meetings for Election Reform. Anyone who has worked within an organization knows that the work is done at the committee level.

    When our elected official fails to attend a ribbon cutting, honorarium or a social event in his district, it is a slap in the face of his constituents. But to be conspicuously absent at assigned committee meetings in Tallahassee raises questions of accountability.

    This representative is ranked in the third quartile by the Miami Herald Legislative Scorecard 2000 for his weak legislative performance and ineffectiveness.

    The voters of District 49 do not have to settle for excuses. They can choose an informed, energetic voice who understands what "public servant" means. They can choose a pro-active voice for HMO and health care reform, reducing class size, smart growth, transportation funding and comprehensive campaign-finance reform. When the roll is called, Sue Humphreys will be marked "present."

    Your vote on Nov. 7 for Sue Humphreys is a vote for responsive, responsible representation. My Web site is http://www.ebusinesspage.net/suehumphreys.

    John Morroni

    Republican candidate for Pinellas County commission, District 6

    Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your recommendation regarding my race for the Pinellas County Commission.

    In the four times I was honored to be elected to the Florida House, I prided myself on running positive campaigns. I've maintained this standard in my current bid for the County Commission, so I will avoid making any criticisms about my opponent other than to say that there are substantial differences between him and me in terms of achievement, experience and ideas.

    John Morroni has a positive record of accomplishment, serving our community as a civic leader and as a legislator. I chaired the Pinellas County legislative delegation and worked to bring statewide resources for our area's needs, such as increased funding for our schools and roads.

    Now, I would like to put my experience to work for our community on the County Commission. I more closely share the priorities and values of Pinellas voters -- such as a belief in lower taxes -- and would better represent their needs than my opponent.

    There is a lot of work that needs to be done in Pinellas -- better schools, safer streets, improved transportation -- and we need an experienced leader on the County Commission to address these issues. John Morroni is this experienced leader. Please vote for John Morroni on Nov. 7.

    Brent Fisher

    Republican candidate for Pinellas County commissioner, District 7

    Thank you for acknowledging that I am a capable candidate and giving me the opportunity to respond to your editorial recommendation.

    My involvement in the major area that District 7 represents is the reason I feel I am the better-qualified candidate. I have been a tutor at 16th Street Middle School and worked on the South Council of the Chamber on housing issues. I am on the Evangelism Committee for the First United Methodist Church. I serve as treasurer of the Computers for the Community, a United Way program that takes donated computers, refurbishes them and offers training and the computers to low- to moderate-income families. I was a program presenter at the State Neighborhood Conference that was held in St. Petersburg. I served as president of the Greater Pinellas Point Civic Association for three years and was first vice president of the Council of Neighborhoods this year. I participated with the city and the Chamber to convince Ceridian Corp. to move to south Pinellas County. I was appointed by the mayor to the Housing Roundtable, which reviews and recommends housing grants for non-profit organizations.

    My intention is to provide a south county office location with posted hours in a county-owned space for residents to be able to come and talk to their commissioner -- not Ken Welch's daddy's office, as he has suggested.

    My top priorities are reducing unemployment and taxes, and improving transportation. I am well aware that the unemployment rate is 13 percent south of Ulmerton Road and less than 2 percent in the north portion of the county. The only way that can change is through job training, job placement and job availability. Bus routes have to be more rider-friendly and more direct to employment centers.

    For those who look to the Times' recommendation and vote the opposite, I will appreciate your vote. For those who normally vote the way the Times recommends, I hope that you will look at my ideas and past involvement, and realize that I will be the hardest working and most visible county commissioner you have ever had. To review the entire text of my response, visit my Web site: http://www.brentfisher.com.

    Kim Berfield

    Republican candidate for state House, District 50

    When the voters spoke on Sept. 5, they felt that the St. Petersburg Times was wrong in its recommendation.

    The Times is wrong again!

    Our community is getting ready to hire someone to serve as our representative for District 50 on Nov. 7. We need someone who understands that serving as a representative is about sacrifice, commitment and being in step with our community . . . someone who has been committed to serving our community in a number of volunteer roles and seeking solutions, not laying blame or criticism.

    That's why the choice is clear.

    The Times and my opponent apparently support requiring that your tax dollars pay for elections -- I don't!

    In reference to the Times' inaccurate statement about schools accepting vouchers, I believe that private schools accepting students with these vouchers should give the FCAT test to those students to assure accountability and effectiveness.

    In regard to growth management, there is smart growth and there is no growth. It is unrealistic for my opponent and the Times to think that there will be no growth in our state or our community. That is why it is crucial to elect someone who understands that a balance must be struck between our environmental concerns and growing population.

    My opponent is too far out of step with our community to find these balances. We need someone who will focus and remain committed to our needs in Tallahassee. I'm Kim Berfield and will do the best job as your representative.

    Nick Nazaretian

    Candidate for Hillsborough County judge, Group 3

    Thank you for your comments regarding my candidacy for county judge in your Oct. 16 editorial. However, there were three important facts that were omitted from your article.

    Throughout my 13 years as an attorney, I have obtained board certification in criminal trial law by the Florida Bar. As intended by the Supreme Court of Florida in its adoption of board certification, I am now recognized as a lawyer who has demonstrated "special knowledge, skills and proficiency" in criminal trial law and can represent myself as a "specialist" in my field of practice (criminal law). The seat I am currently running for is a criminal law position. This benchmark in my legal career is held by only 2 percent of all lawyers and judges in Florida.

    The Hillsborough County Bar Association conducts a preference poll of judicial candidates in every election. The bar is made up of attorneys from all over Hillsborough County. They are asked to rank their preference based on experience, temperament and overall qualifications. In my race, (county court judge, Group 3) the attorneys of the Hillsborough County Bar Association preferred me, Nick Nazaretian, as their No. 1 choice.

    By far the most important fact you omitted from your article is that I am married to my lovely wife, Dana, a middle school teacher at the Academy of the Holy Names. She is by far my best asset. She is the backbone of this campaign and the secret to my success.

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