Much of Pinellas County has been missing a representative in the U.S. Congress since C.W. “Bill” Young died Oct. 18. Voters have a choice between three to take his place during the upcoming March 11 special election.
The Jan. 14 primary decided the Republican candidate, David Jolly. Democrat Alex Sink made her way to the general election without opposition, as did Libertarian Party of Florida’s candidate Lucas Overby.
About the candidates
David Jolly is 41. He is divorced and has lived at his home in Indian Shores since October 2005.
Alex Sink is 65. She is the widow of William Howard McBride Jr. She is the mother of Bert, 26, and Lexi, 25. She moved into her home in Feather Sound in November 2013.
Overby is 27. He is married to Ashely Overby. The couple has a 4-year-old daughter. He lives in Clearwater and is a native of Pinellas County.
Education and employment
Jolly is vice president at Clearwater-based Boston Financial Group, CEO at Olympus Foundation Management, and owner of Three Bridges Advisors, Three Bridges Law and 1924 Communications.
He graduated from Pasco High School in 1990 and received a Bachelor of Art’s degree in history from Emory College in Atlanta, Ga. in 1994 and Juris Doctor Cum Laude from George Mason University of Law in Arlington, Va. in 2001.
Sink worked for Hyde Park Capital Advisors from 2011-2013, served as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer from 2007-2011 and was employed by NCNB/Nation’s Bank/Bank of America from 1974-2000.
She received a Bachelor’s of Science in mathematics magna cum laude from Wake Forest University.
Overby is a commercial dive supervisor. He graduated cum laude from Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg in 2004. He attended Florida Atlantic University Ocean Engineering Program.
Jolly is on the Tampa Bay Veterans Alliance Board of Advisors, Stetson Law School Elder Law Board of Advisors, Jessie’s Law Board of Directors, Town of Indian Shores Board of Adjustment, Florida Federal Contractors Association Board of Directors and previously served on the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast Board of Advisors.
Sink is a past and present board member of the United Way Suncoast, Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay, Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Florida Tax Watch, Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, Florida Council of 100, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Take Stock in Children, Florida Wildlife Federation, Florida Healthy Kids, USF Foundation and United Way Worldwide Advisory Board.
Overby is the founder of “Take a District,” an outreach group designed to engage voters under 30 with their government and their community. He is currently a member of Clearwater Martin Luther King Jr. Neighborhood Center Collision and the Libertarian Party. He also has worked with a number of nonprofit groups.
Why run for office?
Jolly said he is running to fill the “immeasurable void” left in Congress and the county after Young’s death.
“This is what this race is all about to me,” he said in response to a questionnaire sent to all candidates. “I’ve worked on behalf of our community and this congressional district for 20 years alongside our late Congressman, as he consistently found ways to grow high-tech and defense manufacturing jobs here at home, invest in transportation and infrastructure improvements that affect our quality of life, expand higher education opportunities, protect and nourish our beaches, and support our men and women in uniform.
“I got into this race because I humbly believe I have the qualifications to step in on day one and be effective for the people of Pinellas County in Congress. I also believe I can bring together Republicans, Independent and Democrats to work together.”
Sink said, “If you see a problem and think you can be part of the solution, you owe it to your community to step up and work to fix it. I am running because I am sick and tired of the dysfunction in Washington. It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to come together to tackle the challenges that matter most to Pinellas County – caring for our seniors and veterans, stopping the flood insurance rate spike, helping businesses grow jobs and protecting Medicare and Social Security.
“As a business leader and (former) Florida’s chief financial officer, I put partisanship aside and worked across party lines to get things done. It’s these bipartisan, results-oriented values that I will take to Congress to break the gridlock and get results for Pinellas.”
Overby said he is running because it gives him the “opportunity to fight for my neighbors on the national level.”
“I believe that with my knowledge of the community and my lifelong work in the area, I have a unique knowledge of how the laws Congress passes affects the everyday person,” he said. “Living and working under the regulatory burden imposed on working class citizens for so long, I am in a position to understand how to help my community.”
Candidates hope to accomplish
Jolly has three top priorities, “creating jobs and growing our economy, repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a market-based solution, and replacing the National Flood Insurance Program with a new Natural Disaster Insurance Program.”
Sink said the “most important thing” she wants to do in Congress is to be part of “bringing folks together to focus on solving the challenges that matter most to Pinellas, like helping businesses grow jobs.”
“And one of the most important challenges we face here in Pinellas is the flood insurance issue,” she said. “First, we need to stop the rate spike, but we also need a longer term solution that provides more accountability, transparency and affordability for homeowners.
“We also need to get Congress focused on protecting our seniors and veterans. I will fight to protect Medicare and Social Security – end of discussion. And I want to make it easier for veterans to find jobs and get the benefits they’ve earned. As a wife and daughter of Marines, this is very personal to me.”
Overby said he has short-term and long-term goals.
“In the short term, we plan to focus on simplifying the tax code, working on cutting federal waste, ending corporate welfare and working toward real immigration relief,” he said. “While I have long-term and short-term legislative goals, I have spent this campaign focused on goals that would have the greatest immediate impact.
“In general, my goals will always be to limit the size and scope of the federal government and to open up opportunities for workers and business owners alike.”
Best qualified candidate
Jolly said, “Pinellas County and our nation deserve a leader who will work to create jobs and grow our local economy, lower taxes, cut wasteful spending, secure America’s borders, lower the national debt, replace Obamacare with free-market health care policy and respect our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
“I humbly believe I have the qualifications to step in on day one and be effective for the people of Pinellas County in Congress.”
Sink said, “My commitment to solving problems is driven by my real world experience as a business leader, my service as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and as a contributor to our nonprofit community. In the private sector, I helped Florida families secure the resources they needed to pursue their dreams, and as CFO, I cut wasteful spending to make government do more with less and fought for consumer protections, especially those focused on seniors.
“My life has always been guided by bipartisan, results-oriented leadership, and it’s these values I will bring to Washington.”
Overby said, “I am more qualified than my opponents because of both my time and experience in the private sector, which takes a vast understanding of not only existing legislation but preparedness for new legislation, and my time and experience working with this community.
“Not only do I understand better what is it like to live and work in this community far better than my opponents, I offer a vastly different vantage point on the issues and have the experience to offer solutions.”
Most pressing issues
Jolly said the most pressing issues in Washington D.C. that affect Pinellas County are the “need to create jobs and grow our local economy, repeal Obamacare and replace it with a market-based solution, and replace the National Flood Insurance Program with a new Disaster Insurance Program.”
“Additionally, I believe the Administration and Congress must balance the budget,” he said.
Sink said, “Everywhere I go, homeowners and businesses tell me the flood insurance rate spike will put them at risk of losing their homes or businesses.”
“This is yet another self-inflicted crisis Congress has refused to act on and Pinellas families will suffer if they can’t put politics aside to solve the problem,” she said.
Sink said she had outlined several proposals to combat the flood insurance crisis.
“Protecting Pinellas’ seniors is also a top priority,” she continued. “As CFO, I worked to defend Florida’s seniors from fraud and abuse and in Congress I will continue in those efforts. Social Security and Medicare are promises that have been made to our seniors and I am committed to being a strong advocate for preserving that promise.”
Overby said, “Having been working with the community to build solutions and address concerns for the past year of this campaign, I have heard time and time again that jobs and the economy are the two biggest concerns.
“This is the reason I have chosen to go after the legislative reforms that I have. Unless we work toward reopening the small business sector, the people of this district will continue to suffer,” he said.
What should be done?
Jolly said, “I started and ran the Florida Federal Contractors Association to sustain and grow Pinellas’ defense, high-technology and manufacturing industry. We must protect these jobs by electing a member of Congress that understands the important contribution these companies make to job growth and our local economy.
“Repeal Obamacare and replace it with a market-based solution – that solution should be able to address pre-existing conditions, protect policy owners from cancellation and allow children to remain on their parents’ policies until a later age just as the Affordable Care Act does,” he said.
Jolly proposes replacing the National Flood Insurance Program with a new National Disaster Insurance Program.
“The Administration and Congress should balance the budget,” he said. “Merely reducing the amount of the annual deficit does not constitute capturing additional revenue. An actual surplus would create an opportunity to consider additional investment in services with a reduction of the tax burden imposed on individuals and businesses.”
Sink said, “I will work to bring Republicans and Democrats together to focus on the challenges that Pinellas families are facing. It’s through bipartisan, commonsense problem solving that we will break through the gridlock and get things done. Those are the values that I have built my career on and it’s those values I will take to Washington.”
Overby said, “I am working on solutions that would make doing business easier and allow the small business sector to grow. Through tax reform, removal of red tape and clearing the way for small business owners to operate more freely I can help give my community relief from some of their biggest concerns.”
About the election
The last day to register to vote in the March 11 special Congressional election or one of the 12 municipal elections is Monday, Feb. 10. Municipal elections are scheduled in Belleair Bluffs, Clearwater, Gulfport, Indian Shores, Kenneth City, Madeira Beach, Pinellas Park, Redington Shores, Safety Harbor, South Pasadena, St. Pete Beach and Tarpon Springs.
Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark distributed 2,283 mail ballots to absent military and overseas voters Jan. 24. Clark has set a tentative date of Feb. 7 to begin sending out another 190,000 mail ballots to domestic voters who have requested a ballot. The last date to request a mail ballot is 5 p.m. March 5. After that date, ballots can be picked up at an Elections Office through March 10.
Early voting begins Saturday, March 1 and continues through Sunday, March 9, in any of three Elections offices. Polls will be open on Election Day, Tuesday, March 11, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.