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District 46 Florida House

Both candidates are concerned with education and the environment, but their campaign styles are very different.

By MATTHEW WAITE

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


To listen to the two candidates for State House District 46, a lot of their stances sound strikingly similar.

Carlene Hobbs, the Democrat challenger, wants to improve education and health care and is very interested in the environment. She founded and is chairwoman of the Anclote Community Advisory Group, which lobbies the Environmental Protection Agency about the Stauffer Chemicals Superfund site.

Heather Fiorentino, the Republican incumbent, lists as her achievements in the Florida House bills that increased funding for education and set up a pilot program for helping the poor buy medication. She also cites her involvement with local struggles such as Stauffer and the planned Buccaneer natural gas pipeline that would go through Pasco.

"We're kind of on the same march there," Fiorentino said about her and Hobbs' involvement in Stauffer and Buccaneer. "We're running on the same issues."

But the issues are where the similarities stop.

Hobbs was a late entry into the race for the Democrats, recruited by the local party to run against Fiorentino. The bulk of Hobbs' money comes from the Democratic Party -- all but $1,000 of the $2,600 she has raised.

Fiorentino, on the other hand, has had nearly 52 times that amount of money on hand for her campaign.

Add Fiorentino's name recognition that comes with being the incumbent, and Hobbs' race against her looks like David and Goliath. But Hobbs said she draws inspiration from a book she reads to her grandchildren.

"I feel more like the tortoise and the hare," she said of the children's story where the slower turtle wins a race against a rabbit. "I don't have TV ads, and I won't have TV ads because my campaign can't afford that.

"We just hope enough people who know about me will get out and vote."

People who know Hobbs will know her from her work for the southwestern Pasco and northwestern Pinellas County environment. Hobbs also is helping fight the proposed Buccaneer natural gas pipeline.

"We want to feel good about our environment over here," she said. "We want to know we have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe."

Fiorentino has worked on some of the same projects and is running on her accomplishments in her first term in the Legislature.

"I'm just continuing to do my job the way I've been doing it," she said. "There's a lot of issues that face us every day."

THE JOB

House District 46 stretches from the southern border of the county to the northern border and runs along the west coast, primarily west of U.S. 19. A map of Florida House districts appears with another story in this edition. State representatives serve two-year terms and earn $27,900 annually.

REPUBLICAN

HEATHER FIORENTINO, 42, was elected to the House District 46 seat in 1998 and has served on the Elder Affairs and Long Term Care committees, as well as Education Appropriations, Environmental Protection, Juvenile Justice and Community Affairs committees. Fiorentino served five years on the New Port Richey City Council. She was an elementary school teacher who worked in the Pasco County school system for more than a decade before that. A graduate of the University of South Florida, she was Pasco's Teacher of the Year in 1994 and helped to found the Deaf Service Center of Pasco County. Fiorentino, a New Port Richey resident, is married and has a 25-year-old stepson and 12-year-old daughter. ASSETS: home, lot, savings, boat, investments. LIABILITIES: mortgage, bank loan. SOURCE OF INCOME: state salary, school district salary.

DEMOCRAT

CARLENE HOBBS, 51, is an artist and real estate agent living in Holiday. She was born and raised in Tarpon Springs and graduated from Tarpon Springs High School. Hobbs helped start, and now serves as chairwoman of the Anclote Community Advisory Group, an organization that lobbies the Environmental Protection Agency on Stauffer Superfund site issues. She is also a member of the Greater Clearwater Realtors Association, the Tarpon Springs Garden Club, the Environmental Action Network and the Sierra Club. Hobbs is the mother of two adult children. ASSETS: certificates of deposit. LIABILITIES: bank loan. SOURCE OF INCOME: art and real estate sales. WEB SITE: http://www.carlenehobbs.com. E-MAIL: moonwatcher@ozline.net.

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