TALLAHASSEE – As they vie to become the Florida House Representative for District 9, it is apparent Republican candidate, Jim Messer, and Democrat candidate, Loranne Ausley, want many of the same things for Leon County and Tallahassee — more money for state workers and teachers, economic development and the protection of our natural resources.
The difference, according to Messer, is he actually has a chance of delivering results.
Messer, 54, believes with 81 Republicans in the Florida House and only 37 Democrats, democrats are unable to accomplish much for their constituents.
“I want our district to be relevant again in the Florida legislature,” Messer said.
Ausley, 52, previously served the district in the House of Representatives, from 2000 to 2008 and was term-limited out. Messer believes her success in office was hampered by being in the super minority and he could accomplish more as a Republican.
He said Leon County needs better economic development to get better jobs and reduce crime, but a Democrat representing the area will not have enough political capital to secure the funds. He said the same was true with securing state funds to protect the environment, particularly the Lake Jackson basin and Lake Lafayette basin, which drains into the area’s springs. He said currently all the money is going for pet projects in the south.
“We can continue doing the same thing over and over again in the Florida House of Representatives and hope for a different outcome, or we can do something pragmatic,” he said.
“We can take someone who is one of you who lives with you and thinks like you and put that person in the majority where people are actually governing, not just giving speeches on the back row, but actually governing and let that person work to get the benefits for the district that the district deserves,” he said.
Both candidates are local attorneys. Messer said that even though he and Ausley agree on some of the same goals for the county, he differs with Ausley on how and why to accomplish those goals. He said he is a moderate, fiscally-conservative republican.
“I’m a big proponent of small business. We have 22 percent of the state’s work force in Leon County. If we can get a pay increase for state employees, that money gets spent here. People buy cars, houses, shop in our stores. That helps small business in Leon County,” he said.
Despite several attempts, Ausley could not be reached for an interview. Per her website, she is a proponent for more money in the classrooms and less testing.
Messer also wants more money for education and teachers. But he said, while Ausley is strictly for traditional public schools, he takes a more “innovative” and “evolved” approach.
He believes in addition to “strong, strong traditional schools, there should also be choices for children in education, like charter schools, and tax credit scholarships for people that meet a certain threshold.”
“Being a Republican defines the way that I think, but I am first and foremost defined by being a member of this community, by being a Tallahassean,” Messer said.
“What is good for you, is good for me and is good for the district,” Messer explained. “Let me take what’s good for all of us and take it into the majority and start working with the majority to get the benefits we deserve.”
He also said he thinks it important District 9 has someone working 100 percent for its citizens.
“Politics has now become so much about raising money and putting it into war chests, that people running for office find themselves with large war chests and obligations that aren’t to people or small businesses in the district. My donors, for the most part, are friends, families, and small businesses inside the district. My donations from outside the district are from people I know. I don’t have a political action committee, I don’t have big donations from big corporate interests that are from outside the district,” he said.
“I’m hoping people see the only special interest that I want to be working for are the citizens of District 9,” Messer said.