The special election to be held on Tuesday, June 26, is important to the future of Florida and our district. The choices couldn’t be clearer - an experienced leader with a record of real accomplishments for the voters, versus a special interest candidate fueled by outrageous amounts of money. The 3rd district deserves a Senator who brings a fresh perspective and new ideas for solving Florida’s growing problems. I am that candidate, with extensive experience in the areas of economic development, education, the environment, and agriculture.
My name is Suzan Franks, and I live in Hernando, in Citrus County, with my husband of 27 years, Rick. We have three grown children. I have over 23 years of elected public service in offices ranging from the School Board, to State Representative. As an independent thinker, I’ve had a long history of being able to work with people on both sides of the aisle. The job of a State Senator is, after all to work together for the good of all the citizens of Florida, while at the same time protecting the interests of the district they represent.
The immediate problems facing Floridians are skyrocketing insurance costs, a convoluted property tax structure, slipping education rankings, and our environment. The root cause of many of these problems is the State Legislature itself. For the last few years they have taken it upon themselves to pass an increasing number of unfunded mandates down to our counties and cities. An example of this is school funding. Here’s how it works.
They passed legislation requiring the counties to increase education funding by over seven percent. But they didn’t bother to send the funding for this increased spending. The counties, now required by law to increase education funding, have to find funds. They have a choice. They can cut needed services such as police or firemen. Or they can stop repairing roads and close parks. Or they can find new revenue, such as raising sales taxes or property taxes. This puts the counties in a quandary and eventually your taxes go up. There’s a major problem with this approach - it’s illegal. Article VII, section 18 of the Florida Constitution says they’re not allowed to do this.
This gives the legislature, of which my opponent is a part of, the opportunity to crow about how they increased education funding, and at the same time chastise the counties for not living within their means. They don’t tell you that they just raised your taxes. It’s sort of like a relative on a spending spree with your credit card, and you don’t know about it until you get the bill. After I’m elected, the first piece of legislation that I introduce will call for and end to this practice, and refund the monies spent by the counties to be repaid.
Tourism plays a major part in our economy, and it’s mostly related to our diverse ecology. Our beaches, wetlands, and wildlife are all part of the economic engine that is Florida. We have to protect these resources and our finite water supply for the good of all Floridians by encouraging sensible development, and making sure environmental regulations are enforced.
With my experience in education, I will lead the fight to restore excellence to Florida’s public schools. Our children are our investment in our future. College tuition rates are too high, and we’re denying a lot of our children the chance to make a good living and saddling them with an enormous debt on graduation day.
The difference between the two campaigns is like night and day. I’ve been traveling around the district, geographically Florida’s largest, meeting people and talking with them about their concerns. The Republicans sit in Tallahassee and send out mailers. The message that I get, is that people in Tallahassee are out of touch with their constituents. Recently, the Republican Party sent out a mailer to some residents telling them that their drinking water was unsafe, and that they had shoddy roads. The residents knew this wasn’t true, and it even angered the Republicans in the area. The same day the mailer was sent, my opponent was at a fundraiser and pocketed $60,000 from his real “constituents”. If they’ll lie to you about something like this, what else will they lie to you about?
So, now they’re relying on the same tired old tactic, yelling “She’s a liberal”! I seem to remember Mel Martinez calling Bill McCollum a liberal in 2004. You couldn’t believe them then. You shouldn’t believe them now.