Central Florida campaigns accelerate into Nov. 6

Plakon vs. Dentel heats up

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  • | 7:52 a.m. October 31, 2012
Scott Plakon and Karen Castor Dentel are making their closing pitches for the Florida House District 30 seat.
Scott Plakon and Karen Castor Dentel are making their closing pitches for the Florida House District 30 seat.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Heading into the final week of campaigning, U.S. Congressman John Mica was talking up his record in his current seat while hoping for a new one, and challenger Jason Kendall was wondering how far a campaign based largely on Internet buzz would take him.

The two are squaring off in the Nov. 6 election after a strong victory by Mica over Republican rival and fellow incumbent Rep. Sandy Adams, and Kendall over Democrat rival Nicholas Ruiz for the newly redrawn U.S. House District 7 seat.

The race against the pair of GOP incumbents was expected to be far closer than between Mica and the newcomer Kendall, who's banking on a strong word of mouth support from Democrats and independents. Now in the final week of campaigning, they’re making their closing pitches.

“I always campaign like I’m 20 points behind,” Mica said. “We’re being very aggressive in the general election. We just remained in high gear to run a full campaign through next Tuesday.”

Kendall has been attending events around the area from 5K races and meeting with students to breast cancer awareness rallies. Kendall held an informal talk on Oct. 5 in Winter Park’s Palmano’s Café to meet with residents, many for the first time.

Relaxing in an armchair on the patio of Palmano’s, he talked about lax airport security and fears about the future of the American dream, but more pointedly on unethical politicians and political corruption.

“People should be able to have faith in their government, but they can’t right now,” Kendall said. He vowed to work to repeal the PATRIOT act, and to help restore voters’ faith in the integrity of the political system.

The self-proclaimed Kennedy Democrat more recently had words about campaign spending in the Internet age.

“I could beat Mica with about 50 grand,” he said, though that’s money his campaign doesn’t have. Entering October Kendall had spent just $8,625 on his campaign, none of which has been from special interest groups or lobbyists, he said. Kendall won the primary 59 percent to 41 percent, despite his opponent raising more than $36,000.

Mica has built and burned through most of a campaign war chest of more than $2.3 million so far, most of it in an ad blitz to defeat Adams in the primary election in August. His campaign reported more than $350,000 remaining.

Early voting is open at the Winter Park Library, 460 E. New England Ave. from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day through Saturday, Nov. 3. Florida law requires voters to present a signature and photo identification when checking in. If a voter has moved since the last elections – especially if they’ve crossed county lines – they are encouraged to call 407-836-VOTE (8683) to update their registration record prior to visiting the Early Voting center. Visit orangecountyvotes.com for more information and other polling locations.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of funding, it’s a matter of presenting yourself to the voters and having the opportunity to look at what you’ve done and your vision for what you’d like to do in the future,” Mica said.

The numbers facing Kendall are daunting heading into Election Day, with the primary election showing strong turnout for Republican voters. In August nearly twice as many voters cast ballots for the GOP candidates compared to the Democrats.

But with confidence high in moderate and unaffiliated voters, including Republicans, Kendall said he’s optimistic.

“The campaign is going well,” he said.

Mica said he’ll be pushing until the end.

“We’ll keep working until 7 p.m. Tuesday night and then we’ll see where the voters stand,” he said.

Plakon vs. Dentel in District 30

There’s a war on Interstate 4 coming to a head on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, as a four-year Republican incumbent and a first-time candidate from a long line of Democratic politicians fight for a state representative district with Maitland at its center.

“Some of my friends described [parts of Winter Park and Maitland] as a warzone of Plakon and Castor Dentel signs,” Rep. Scott Plakon said.

Plakon, the current representative of District 37, which stretches across Fern Park to Altamonte Springs and Longwood, is running against Maitland mom and Dommerich Elementary School teacher Karen Castor Dentel for the seat of the newly formed District 30, which covers Altamonte Springs down to the northern edge of Winter Park, split almost down the middle by I-4.

“It’s gotten intense; each day becomes more and more intense as we’re running out of campaigning time,” Dentel said.

Both candidates have been walking neighborhoods and knocking on doors to get word out about their campaigns, Plakon boasting legislative and small business experience, and Dentel demanding attention be brought to education and schools as the foundation for jobs and business.

Plakon and Dentel both say in knocking on doors and talking to their potential constituents, jobs and the economy have been the talk of the town. Plakon says to create more jobs he’ll continue to push forward legislation like the Florida Energy & Jobs Bill he initiated earlier this year to incentivize job growth in Florida, while also making sure schools are funded.

“That’s been our message from the beginning of the race, and will continue to be our message through the end of the race, and that will be what I’ll be focusing on if the voters send me back to Tallahassee,” he said.

A customized sample ballot for every voter in Florida, accompanied by extensive information about the candidates and issues that they’ll be voting on is the latest feature of the League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund’s nonpartisan online voter resource, BeReadyToVote.org. The website’s sample ballot tool provides information about candidates’ professional, career and educational information, as well as financial data about campaign contributions. Other items available on the site include written position statements, videos, answers to the League’s candidate questionnaire and links to the candidates’ websites.

Dentel proposes creating Florida jobs by expanding the state’s port system to increase trade following expansions of the Panama Canal, and through investing in innovation and education. This, she says, can come from high-tech industry development and investing in new forms of energy, but it hinges on the state’s ability to cultivate an educated workforce to fill the new positions.

“When you invest in our higher-ed and our schools, you’re investing and developing our workforce,” she said.

In focusing on the needs of our local community, both candidates are talking of building jobs and promoting growth.

Plakon, formerly of Longwood but who is now leasing a home in Altamonte Springs, says he’ll do his best to attract businesses to the area and urge local governments to initiate predictable and stable taxation and regulations to do so.

“We need to create an environment where companies will want to create jobs in our community,” he said.

Dentel says she’ll put her knowledge of her community to work for the best interests of the area in Tallahassee. That, she says, includes providing avenues to develop and increase the tax bases here, specifically in Eatonville where it is needed most. She says she’ll also work to make sure transportation efforts such as SunRail are successful by urging the state to invest in initiatives such as FlexBus.

“I don’t want to just be up in Tallahassee dictating to these cities and county governments on what they need to do. … I want to be a partner with them and see how we can help them in Tallahassee,” Dentel said.


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