By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY/BREVARD COUNTY - Sen. Thad Altman, R-Rockledge, has been serving in the Florida Senate since 2008 and hopes to continue as senator for another term.
Due to redistricting, Sen. Altman is running for the new District 16, which encompasses much of Brevard and Indian River counties. Previously, he represented District 24, which had portions of Brevard, Orange and Seminole counties.
His opponent in the race, Democrat Dominic A. Fallo II, has little to no information on his campaign available online and did not return several requests for interviews.
Sen. Altman serves on various legislative committees in Tallahassee, including chairman of the military affairs, space and domestic security committee.
A large amount of his time and effort is spent around the space interests of the committee and finding ways to incentivize commercial launch programs to come to the area, Sen. Altman said.
Attracting business to the Space Coast for space flight will hopefully help NASA move toward the next generation of space flight, even with the loss of the space shuttle.
He estimates the shut down of the shuttle program contributed to 15,000 jobs lost for the area, a massive blow.
Looking forward to the future, Sen. Altman said he is excited about the Orion space craft that is being built onsite at NASA.
"This is the space craft we hope will go to Mars and beyond. It's being assembled on the Space Coast, and this is the first time space craft has been actively assembled here," the senator said.
Helping the aerospace industry grow is a goal of Sen. Altman and that includes commercial and passenger flight as well.
"Piper Aircraft in Vero Beach is an important part of that," he said.
Sen. Altman said the role of government is not to create jobs, but to make it possible for businesses to come in and succeed.
"We need to create a business-friendly environment so the business sector can create jobs. I believe in small, contained, limited government," Sen. Altman said.
Incentivizing small business and lessening regulations are areas the government can work on to build the economy in partnership with businesses.
Another area Sen. Altman feels strongly about is highway safety.
"The stretch of I-95 from Indian River County to Volusia County is one of the deadliest stretches of I-95," he said.
Road-widening projects seem to be helping, but losing 1,000 Floridians and guests per year due to traffic accidents is not good.
He hopes to increase the safety of the roads and the safety of children on the roads with a mandatory booster seat law for children ages 4 to 7.
The bill has passed in the Florida House and the Florida Senate at different times, but never at the same time for it to be made law.
"Public safety is our No. 1 priority," Sen. Altman said.