A Times Editorial
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 21, 2000
If you live in Lake County and agree with Anna Cowin that abortion is bad, school vouchers are good and the intangibles tax should be eliminated to benefit the state's wealthiest residents, you have a representative in the state Senate who will fight hard to promote your views.
The trouble is, having Cowin in your corner also can be a huge liability. That's because Cowin, R-Leesburg, has managed to alienate so many people in Tallahassee with her abrasive and uncompromising style that she no longer can depend on the support of her Republican colleagues, much less sway any Democrats.
And, as people who live in Citrus, Marion, Sumter and Seminole counties already know, being anywhere but in the populous heart of District 11 (Lake County), the only thing you can rely on Cowin for is to occasionally take credit for work others have done.
But if you disagree with Cowin's platform and want a credible senator who can work well with others and who promises to be regularly accessible to all her constituents, there is a stimulating alternative: Leslie Scales.
Scales, a Democratic small business owner from Weirsdale, is a former teacher and guidance counselor who has served two terms on the Marion County School Board. Her platform is sensible, emphasizing children and education. In the community, she has practical experience as a guardian ad litem, volunteer president of a children's crisis center and board member of a foster care program. In the classroom, she opposes school vouchers, wants to de-emphasize the FCAT system of grading and will work to fully fund districts' technology and transportation costs.
Other priorities for Scales include: strengthening state and regional enforcement of comprehensive plan amendments; broadening health care and prescription medicine coverage; and protecting the environment through increased funding for land preservation and agricultural pursuits.
Republican leaders, including Gov. Jeb Bush and the president of the Senate, desperately want Cowin to retain her seat. They rely on her to push their agendas, particularly on education, because she is chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. But outside the Capitol and Lake County, Cowin is less popular. In District 11, she has been repeatedly criticized for being inaccessible and lacking understanding and concern about issues facing residents in the so-called fringe counties.
To that end, Scales has promised to establish a satellite office in Citrus County and one in Lady Lake. Cowin had never branched out from her political stronghold in Leesburg.
Scales is a moderate Democrat, and her ideas have the potential to bridge party lines. In contrast, moderate is not in Cowin's vocabulary, much less a resource available to her for building consensus in the Senate. Her four-year tenure has been a huge disappointment.
We strongly recommend Leslie Scales in this high-profile race.