Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ELECTION 2008: STATE HOUSE, DISTRICT 18; Hopefuls Voice Their Priorities for Florida the Economy, Oil and Education Are Just a Few of Their Concerns

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ELECTION 2008: STATE HOUSE, DISTRICT 18; Hopefuls Voice Their Priorities for Florida the Economy, Oil and Education Are Just a Few of Their Concerns

Article excerpt

Byline: DANA TREEN

None of the three candidates for the District 18 state House of Representatives seat has held elected office in the past.

But each has a strong view on what needs to be changed.

Daniel F. Walsh, Republican Ronald "Doc" Renuart and Democrat Dave Smith are vying for a seat left vacant by the death of Don Davis. The district runs from Mayport in Duval County to Vilano Beach in St. Johns County.

For Walsh, 51, a self-described investor who is not affiliated with any party and said he won't take a salary if elected, the priority is simple.

"My main focus is the economy, because if you do not have the money how are you going to fund those other programs," he said.

Renuart, 44, who defeated two challengers in the August primary, supports offshore drilling for oil and believes encouraging business is the best way to take tax burdens off taxpayers.

"I see government as there to encourage business," he said. "Government should foster moving headquarters and plants to Florida with tax assistance, subsidies."

Smith, 56, a former teacher, said he wants a strong focus on renewable energy and would support measures that would encourage green technology and rebates to consumers and small businesses.

In education, Smith said, the state needs to address issues such as broadening the number of subjects taught, but without increasing budgets.

"We may need more money for schools but move priorities around," he said. "I think education is faced with some very special problems."

Walsh said money in what is described as the Wall Street bailout fund should be funneled more directly to stop such things as home foreclosures.

"Little ideas like that could really change how the system works," he said.

Walsh said about 18 percent of voters in the district covering coastal stretches of Duval and St. …

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