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District 47 Florida House

Government spending, experience, growth management, the environment and education are issues as a three-term incumbent faces a challenge from a consumer advocate.

By JACKIE RIPLEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


As Rob Wallace shoots for a fourth term to represent District 47 in the Florida House, the Republican lawmaker faces a challenge from longtime consumer activist and Democrat Monte Belote.

Wallace, an environmental engineer first elected in 1994, said the message he wants to get out is the need to watch spending.

"I consider the budget we did to be family-friendly," Wallace said of the most recent legislative session. "I'm always looking at the rate of growth of spending versus the rate of family income rising."

Wallace, who was behind the push to extend the school year, said he also looks forward to providing leadership in the House, which he predicts will be low on experienced legislators.

"With term limits kicking in, there will be close to 70 new members out of 120," Wallace said.

Belote, who championed consumer causes for 14 years with the Florida Consumer Action Network and as the group's executive director from 1990 to 1998, said growth management, environmental issues and education are key planks in his campaign platform.

"There are not enough textbooks, there are not enough desks and the schools are overcrowded," Belote said. "Quality public education is just not happening."

During his tenure as Consumer Action Network's top administrator, Belote worked on behalf of property owners against Florida's insurance industry on claims stemming from Hurricane Andrew. Belote fought rate increases by utilities such as GTE, Tampa Electric Co. and Florida Power & Light Co.

Of equal importance to Belote, who now consults in the area of consumer affairs with telecommunications associations, is the environment.

"Our lakes are sucked close to dry," Belote said. "We're giving away substantial land, rivers, and uplands through unbridled, unplanned growth. We need a rational plan for growth management."

Belote said he hopes to unseat Wallace because the incumbent has failed to rectify problems plaguing education and the environment.

THE JOB

House District 47 covers parts of Carrollwood and Odessa in northwest Hillsborough County, stretching through north Pinellas County to include the city of Tarpon Springs. House members serve two-year terms and are paid $27,900 a year. A map of Florida House districts appears elsewhere in this edition.

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