By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY - Voters will soon decide who their local voice will be in District 84.
With redistricting imposed by the United States census, boundaries were changed and renumbered.
St. Lucie County is now its own district, District 84, and the race has come down to Republican Michelle Miller and Democrat Larry Lee.
Hometown News asked the candidates the same questions about their campaigns. Their answers are below in alphabetical order.
Hometown News does not endorse any candidates for political office, but instead provides information about each candidate for voters to make an educated decision.
Name: Larry Lee
Lives in: Port St. Lucie
Family: Wife, Alice, daughter Tasha
Name: Michelle Miller
Lives in: St. Lucie County
Family: Husband, Gary, four children: Brandi, Emily, Ashton and Jack.
Q: Why should voters choose you?
Lee: I feel there is too much division and partisanship in Tallahassee. I feel I have a proven track record of bringing people together to provide meaningful solutions to solve the issues facing our community. For the past 33 years of my life, I have been committed to making our community a better place for all. I now want to go to Tallahassee to take that same level of commitment there to make our state a better place for all. I feel I have the skills needed to work on both sides of the aisle. We must find ways to work together.
Miller: I believe the people of District 84 want a representative who understands the legislative process and can achieve results beginning on day one, be a true public servant, be fair, honest and impartial and always be available to the people they are elected to represent.
I have a passion for the wellbeing of our community and I show it each and every day. Through numerous community boards and committees I have shown through action, not just throwing money around, that I can significantly help our area and our state. I am the middle-class, small-business owner who faces the same struggles of meeting budget that you do.
I am a U.S. Army veteran who understands how important it is to stand for what is right. Because of my competitive spirit I am the candidate who will take on Tallahassee special-interest groups and work every day to make a positive change for St. Lucie County and our state.
A few examples of the accomplishments I have been able to bring for St. Lucie: as a board member for St. Lucie Medical Center I was instrumental in bringing third-year medical students here to our local physicians for training. We began a residency program which allows us to train and hopefully keep the physicians that we have trained right here in St. Lucie County. I am proud to say that our program has doubled in size as of this summer.
While on the board of the Early Learning Coalition, we began a fraud restitution program and I took on Tallahassee until we finally received those dollars back here for our children.
I also began the Crosstown referendum task force and brought together the St. Lucie County Chamber of Commerce, Realtors and the Treasure Coast Builders Association to build the Crosstown Parkway. That referendum passed with an 89 percent approval rate, and I will continue to pressure Tallahassee to complete the bridge portion of this roadway to promote better traffic flow.
Q: What do you feel are the two most important issues that face the residents of St. Lucie County?
Lee: Job creation is the No. 1 priority of my campaign. However, in order to recruit new businesses to our area, it is important that we improve our education system. We must start by improving our teacher pay. Florida ranks 46th in the nation in average teacher pay. We are not going to be able to recruit nor retain great teachers if the pay is not competitive with other areas of the country.
Another major concern facing the citizens of St. Lucie County and the Treasure Coast is the high cost of property insurance. I have a plan that will lower the cost and bring major insurance carriers back into the state. My plan calls for removing hurricane coverage from the policy and covering hurricanes similar to how we cover floods through a separate policy.
Miller: The economy and education are the two most important issues for the residents of St. Lucie County.
As state legislators, we must make it easier to attract new business and expand existing businesses. By stabilizing and reducing taxes, energy costs, insurance premiums and other expansion prohibitions' we can start to enable job growth.
We have wonderful men and women who have dedicated themselves to our greatest resource: our children. We must make sure that they have the tools and funding necessary to get the job done right! For too many years, education has been an afterthought from our federal and state legislators. This must change. We must invest in our education system and give teachers the freedom to prepare each child with an educated future and life skills and not test skills.
We must also incorporate more of the trade skills in our learning curriculums. Not every child will want to go on to college, but every child has the ability to excel and we must fund teachers and programs that can further their advancement.
Q: If you could, what would be the one thing you would change in your area, and why?
Lee: The biggest change I see is that we must all learn to work and live together. It is written that a divided house will not stand; neither will a divided community or state.
Miller: Attitude and apathy of our politicians and voters. I have spoken to many voters who have no faith in the ability for government to do what is right for the American people.
Term limits are a great tool to ensure that politicians are not in a position too long, but during that time, we must make sure they are doing what is in the best interest of the people and not own their pockets. Voters must engage in the voting process, as it has never been easier to get educated about the candidates and issues. By being engaged in the process, we can ensure a majority of the voting population has a say in the direction of our communities and our state.