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District 13 Florida Senate

Kathy Castor targets education funding and growth management as her issues. Victor Crist cites his experience and commitment to the office.

By TIM GRANT

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


One is a veteran state House representative with a long track record of volunteer community service. The other is a land-use lawyer with a well-known last name who has never held a public office.

The race for state Senate District 13 pits Republican candidate Victor Crist against Democrat Kathy Castor for the seat that Carrollwood Republican John Grant is leaving because of term limits.

Crist, 43, is chairman of the House Criminal Justice and Corrections Council, which oversees four committees. During his four terms representing House District 60, he has sponsored major crime legislation and led the multimillion-dollar redevelopment of north Tampa's blighted University of South Florida area.

"I have served eight years and proven my unwavering commitment to serve my constituents and the citizens of Florida," Crist said. "There is not another member of the House or Senate that has the knowledge and background in public safety and community revitalization as I do."

Castor, 34, is the daughter of Betty Castor, former state education commissioner and USF president. She began her legal career nine years ago enforcing the state's environmental laws for the Florida Department of Community Affairs. Since 1994, she has worked in private practice representing local governments, citizens groups and developers.

As a state senator, Castor said her main focus will be to increase the state's funding for education, but she believes her expertise as a land-use lawyer will be valuable in a district where growth management is a big concern.

"I'm going to be proactive on growth management," Castor said. "I will not support gutting our growth management laws like the Florida House tried to do last fall."

Both candidates have been endorsed by education organizations. Crist has been endorsed by health care providers, as well as business and labor groups that are usually at odds, like Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida AFL-CIO.

Much of Crist's $278,000 in campaign contributions as of early October have come from big business and special interest groups such as insurance, advertising, gambling and the funeral industry.

The Florida Republican Party has contributed about $19,000 in in-kind donations to his campaign.

Castor's support has come largely from the state's legal community as well as the state Democratic Party, which gave Castor the maximum $50,000 contribution.

She raised about $188,000 in two months of campaigning.

THE JOB

State Senate District 13 covers south Tampa, Town 'N Country, Carrollwood, Lutz, Keystone, New Tampa, Sulphur Springs, Forest Hills and a portion of central Pasco County. A map of Florida Senate districts in Hillsborough County appears elsewhere on this page. Senators usually serve four-year terms, but because of reapportionment the seat will be up for re-election in 2002. The job pays $27,900 a year.

REPUBLICAN

VICTOR CRIST, 43, was born in New Orleans and moved to Florida in 1968. He lives in Tampa Palms and is president of Metropolitan Communications Inc. He has been a state representative since 1992. He graduated from the University of South Florida with degrees in communications and business administration. Crist is the longtime president of the USF Area Community Civic Association. He also serves as volunteer chairman and CEO of the University Area Community Development Corp. Inc. He is single. ASSETS: home, business, stocks and bonds. LIABILITIES: mortgage, business loan. SOURCE OF INCOME: business, investments, salary as a legislator.

DEMOCRAT

KATHY CASTOR, 34, was born in Miami. She attended Carrollwood area elementary and middle schools and graduated from Chamberlain High School. Castor received her political science degree from Emory University and her law degree from Florida State University in 1991. Until recently she was a partner at the law firm of Broad and Cassel, specializing in law use and local government law. She is married and has two daughters. ASSETS: home, stocks. LIABILITIES: mortgage, car loan, credit cards. SOURCE OF INCOME: attorney fees and investments.

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