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Suarez OK, But Keller, Fernandez Preferred Over Diaz, Quinones


For The State Senate

October 23, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved. 

Anthony Suarez has the background and temperament necessary to be a strong advocate for Florida Senate District 19.

Mr. Suarez is competing against Gary Siplin to represent the district that stretches from the Apopka area in north Orange County to Buenaventura Lakes in Osceola County, and includes Pine Hills, Eatonville, Azalea Park and portions of Orlando.

Mr. Suarez, a Republican, and Mr. Siplin, a Democrat, are lawyers who each have served one term in the Florida House of Representatives.

But the big differences are that Mr. Suarez has a long history of public service and has made a difference in this community. Mr. Siplin, however, lacks a record of meaningful accomplishment.

During Mr. Suarez's one term in the Florida House, he proved himself to be an independent thinker who was not afraid to break step with party bosses and vote with his conscience. He does have a few blemishes in his past, including a minor violation of Florida Bar rules. Nevertheless, he still has far more to offer the district than does Mr. Siplin.

In the Senate, Mr. Suarez wants to focus on education issues, particularly efforts to provide more vocational training and classes to help people whose English-language skills are weak.

He's also eager to build coalitions among the lawmakers who represent culturally diverse urban communities.

Mr. Siplin doesn't measure up. His single term in Tallahassee has been unimpressive. What's more, his failure to pay longstanding personal and business debts raises troubling questions regarding his credibility and responsibility.

The Sentinel endorses Anthony Suarez for Florida Senate District 19.


Keller in District 8

October 20, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved. 

After waging an ugly, sharply partisan campaign to win a U.S. House seat in 2000, Republican Ric Keller has been a pleasant surprise as a congressman. He has earned another term in Washington.

Mr. Keller has represented a district that included most of Orange and a small part of Osceola counties. This year, legislators redrew its boundaries to leave out east Orange, reduce the Osceola portion and take it north into parts of Lake and Marion counties.

As a freshman, Mr. Keller has wisely focused on a few issues -- among them homeland security, crime and education. He can boast of accomplishments in all three areas, especially education.

Florida's only member on the House Education Committee, Mr. Keller helped increase the limit on Pell Grants for college students, tripled support for early-reading instruction and lined up funding for a doctoral program in modeling and simulation at the University of Central Florida -- a key asset in attracting high-tech jobs to the region.

Mr. Keller has been a reliable GOP vote for tax cuts and against regulations, but broke with his party to back community policing and oppose sugar price supports.

Mr. Keller's opponent, Democrat Eddie Diaz of Orlando, has an admirable record of public service as a veteran and police officer. He has courageously fought back from injuries after being shot in the line of duty.

But Mr. Diaz isn't ready to represent the 8th District. He shows only limited understanding of the issues he would confront in Congress. He would do better to get experience first on the state level.

The Sentinel endorses Ric Keller in the 8th Congressional District.

Fernandez in District 49

October 18, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved. 

Jose Fernandez, who is seeking the Florida House District 49 seat, is a bright political star who deserves voters' support. Mr. Fernandez [NICARAGUAN], a Democrat, is competing with John Quinones[PUERTO RICAN], a Republican, to represent the district that covers parts of southeast Orange County and northern Osceola County.

Mr. Fernandez has what it takes to give the large Hispanic population in this newly formed district a high standard of representation. He communicates clearly and cultivates consensus on issues -- all qualities that would make him very effective in Tallahassee.

What's more, Mr. Fernandez has an impressive resume and a record of bipartisan community service that crosses ethnic lines. He runs the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund, which has helped more than 5,000 businesses grow, most of them Puerto Rican.

He holds degrees from Rollins College and the University of Central Florida. He has served on the Osceola County Planning Commission and many business and civic boards, including those helping abused women and the homeless.

Mr. Fernandez wants to improve the local economy with incentives to nurture small businesses. On his education agenda, he would push for more programs for students and adults whose English-language skills are weak. He wants to find more ways for people to get four-year college degrees -- a special concern in Osceola, which has no full-service university.

Mr. Quinones, a lawyer, is likeable, but he doesn't seem to have a tight grasp on many of the critical issues facing Florida.

The Sentinel strongly endorses Jose Fernandez for Florida House District 49.

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