Elections 2006: This Time it's Personal 

A highly subjective take on eight of the most important races in Tampa Bay.

He'll raise your taxes. She's in the pocket of the insurance industry. Doubling the homestead. Staying the course. Tax cap portability. The threat of offshore drilling. Illegal immigrants are draining our financial resources. To FCAT or not to FCAT. Those are the questions.

Welcome to Florida Elections 2006.

By now, even the most ardent fan of bloodsport politics must be tired of the election season. The races have been, for the most part, unrelenting and unexciting. Consider that the Republican Party has been running ads against a Democratic candidate for the Florida Senate since before the primary was decided. Nonstop. Charlie Crist's ads for governor went up the day after he beat fellow Republican Tom Gallagher.

Voters in the primary stayed away in droves -- only about 20 percent of those registered bothered to cast ballots in September. When the polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday Nov. 7, there's little indication that voters will show any more excitement about exercising their democratic prerogative.

At Creative Loafing, we kicked around a bunch of ideas on how to make some sense out of this year's elections and cut through the deafening white noise of television ads. We decided to make it personal: Each CL editorial staffer was asked to choose one important race, get to know the candidates and their platforms, make a choice and write about it, telling readers: This is who I'm going to vote for. (One exception: In the governor's race, we pooled our votes.)

We know this violates the most sacred of mainstream journalistic rules, the canard of objectivity. But the fact is that every journalist brings his or her own baggage to a story. We're just going to be brutally transparent about ours in an attempt to give you, not a monolithic, anonymous editorial endorsement, but a frankly personal take on several important races.

The races we chose span the spectrum from the governor's race to the school board, from Hillsborough to Pinellas, from well-to-do districts to the heart of urban Tampa.

Almost to a one, the candidates turned out to be better than their advertising (and certainly their opponents' advertising) would lead you to believe. Behind the rhetoric were talented individuals, driven by a desire to shape public policy and make their communities better. They differ on the ways to do that. But that's what democracy is all about.

We hope this helps you make your own choices -- which, like ours, are inevitably and only yours to make.


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Elections 2006

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