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A Times Editorial

Bilirakis for state House 48

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 21, 2000

One-term state Rep. Gus Bilirakis is about as low key as a politician gets. Soft-spoken and deferential, he seems at times to want to please everyone, which can make his stand on issues unclear. Then he shows an independent streak, as when he refused to support Gov. Jeb Bush on his A+

Plan for schools.

Bilirakis, 37, a lawyer and son of U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis, said he does not always follow the Republican Party line. He said he voted against the A

Plan because he doesn't support the use of school vouchers. Now that it is the law, however, he would like to see schools judged on more than student test scores, a sensible position.

On growth management and environmental issues, however, he follows the right wing of the party and is sometimes out of step with other members of the Pinellas delegation. He voted for the ill-fated Land Title Protection

Act, better known as the "great land grab," which would have given state-owned waterfront land to private land owners. He voted for a controversial growth management bill that could weaken state oversight, yet he says, "I want to be sure the local communities are protected."

Bilirakis needs to sort out his stand on such issues, but otherwise he has been a conscientious legislator who wants to serve his constituents.

Chris Gregg, 31, a medical services representative, is running under "no party affiliation." He is making his first attempt at elected office; he needs to do more homework on the legislative issues and the electoral process.

The Times recommends Gus Bilirakis.

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