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We're coming down to the wire for the District 13 Republican Congressional primary to replace the late Congressman Bill Young, which will be held January 14th. Three candidates are vying to challenge Democrat Alex Sink - Mark Bircher, David Jolly, and Kathleen Peters. To make a comparative analysis, I contacted the three candidates and asked three simple questions. I wasn't so much interested in their resume or list of supporters as this is already known. Instead, I wanted to get their perspectives on the problems facing Pinellas voters, why they feel they are the best challenger, and their impression of the Democratic opponent, Alex Sink.
To be fair, I listed their answers in alphabetic order according to their last name.
1. In priority order, what are the top three pressing problems facing the country?
Mark Bircher -
Rein in the federal debt and deficit and balance the budget, repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and restore individual liberty and freedom (return federal government to the limitations of the US Constitution).
David Jolly -
Create jobs and grow the economy, repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and replace the National Flood Insurance Program with a new Natural Disaster Insurance Program.
Kathleen Peters -
Address the Flood Insurance problem, Repeal the Affordable Care Act, address the national debt and economy.
All three seem to understand the problems of our economy and the Affordable Care Act. Although I had specifically asked for problems facing the nation, Candidates Jolly and Peters wanted to bring attention to the local problem of the National Flood Insurance Program which is affecting the sale of homes and condos in our area. Bircher stressed the need to adhere to the US Constitution.
2. What are your strengths as a candidate? Why should people vote for you? (In their own words)
Mark Bircher -
"My strengths are my 33 years of federal military service and the experience gained from being accountable for leading large organizations. People should vote for me because my entire career, both military and civilian has taught me that true leadership is about providing support to those around you. In the military, as an aviator I supported infantry men. In industry I support my customers. As a Representative to Congress I will support constituents interests."
David Jolly -
"The loss of our dear Congressman Young leaves an immeasurable void in the Congress of the United States, but also in our Pinellas County communities. This is what this race is about to me. I’ve worked on behalf of our community and this Congressional District for 20 years alongside our late Congressman, as he consistently found ways to grow high-tech and defense manufacturing jobs here at home, invest in transportation and infrastructure improvements that affect our quality of life, expand higher education opportunities, protect and nourish our beaches, and support our men and women in uniform. I got into this race because I humbly believe I have the qualifications to step in on day one and be effective for the people of Pinellas County in Congress. I also believe I can bring together Republicans, Independents and Democrats to work together."
Kathleen Peters -
"For the last 28 years – I have made Pinellas County my home. From starting a small business to raising four boys and serving as your State Representative, I have dedicated my life to serving this community. That’s why I decided to run. I am the only candidate that has the experience and the background to get things done locally and in Washington like Congressman Young did for so many years. As a Member of Congress, I will fight every day to create an environment for good-paying jobs right here in Pinellas County and stop this partisan gridlock."
All three noted the need to maintain the local interests of Pinellas County. Whereas Bircher touted his leadership skills, Jolly and Peters claimed they could work well with people on both sides of the aisle.
3. What are the weaknesses of Alex Sink? Why should people NOT vote for her?
All three candidates commented on Sink's lack of familiarity with Pinellas County, and her embracing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
According to Jolly, "She (Sink) fully supports Obamacare despite recent public outrage over the failed rollout, increasing premiums for individuals, cancelled policies, and additional costs and administrative burdens on Pinellas businesses."
Bircher echoed Jolly's position, "Ms. Sink is a supporter of the Affordable Care Act. I support its repeal. I believe the states, not the federal government, are the proper venue to decide such issues as health care, flood insurance, education and similar functions not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution."
Peters focused on Sink as an outsider, "The people of Pinellas County have a choice: Do they want to elect a career politician that has no real history in this community? Or do they want to elect a mother, a grandmother and a community leader that has spent the last twenty eight years woven into the fabric of this community. Since Alex Sink has no real history of working with the people of Pinellas County, how could she possibly represent their values in Washington?"
Although the rhetoric is slightly different, all three GOP candidates appear similar in their positions. All three want to repeal Obamacare, fix the economy, and tend to the National Flood Insurance Program. The big question though is, "Who can deliver?" Pinellas Republican voters must consider not only who can best fill the shoes of Congressman Young, but who can also knock off Mrs. Sink at the March 11th special election. We'll find out January 14th.
Keep the Faith!
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