The Council of North County Neighborhoods hosted a candidate forum Monday evening moderated by Bay News 9 Senior Anchor Al Ruechel. The forum featured candidates in five races of importance to residents in North Pinellas County-
- U.S. Congressional District 12
- Florida State Senator District 20
- Florida State Representative District 65
- Pinellas County Commissioners at Large
- Pinellas County Sheriff
Today, we're featuring responses from candidates running for Florida State Representative District 65.
Peter Nehr, Republican
- Resident of Palm Harbor
- Occupation: State Representative
- Website: votepeternehr.com
Carl Zimmerman, Democrat
- Resident of Palm Harbor
- Occupation: Teacher
- Website: carlzimmermann.com
Question: The Florida "Stand Your Ground Law" is the focus of the George Zimmerman trial. Governor Scott has promised to review it. What's your position on the "Stand Your Ground Law"?
Peter Nehr: "I believe in the right of the Second Amendment for citizens of Florida to defend themselves and their families when they are in danger."
"There is a task force right now that is out there collecting all the information and trying to get that information that may effect whether we need to change the law or not. So, until that task force comes down with all the information that would make it necessary to make a decision on whether it needs to be changed or not, I'm going to reserve my opinion. But, just to let you know, I am a big proponent of the Second Amendment."
Carl Zimmerman: "I do support the 'Stand Your Ground Law' even though I personally don't own a gun and I personally don't feel the need to own a gun."
"In this case about 70 percent of the people want that law to stay unchanged just the way it is. I'll look at the task force recommendations, if there's ways to tweak it, then that's what I'll vote for. But otherwise, I do support it."
Question: The state has been doing a lot of cutting to education. What would you do to properly support education in the state without breaking the state?
Carl Zimmerman: "Education is nearly one-third of the budget, it's about $23 billion, Medicaid is more, which is about $24 billion. We need to properly fund education. However, times are changing and education is changing with it. We need to make some changes in education. In my newspaper, by the way, I go into this in great detail."
"We have corporate scholarships and the Republican party wants to get rid of corporate income tax. They're not going to be able to fund those corporate scholarships, in other words, those are vouchers. That's a lot of money that is currently being diverted away from the state; $80 million, $100 million, companies are able to divert away from the state and put into that. I would like to see that stopped and I have an alternative way of funding."
Peter Nehr: "The legislature has been cutting education because our budget has been extremely high. The only way that we can balance our budget, which is mandated by our constitution, is to make sure that we have enough money."
"I personally feel that now that we've done enough cutting to education and we're on the road to recovery. By the way, some of you may know that last session the legislature actually increased the budget for education by over a billion dollars, even though we cut a lot more of that previously before that."
"As well, the governor and the legislature are looking at ways to increase funding and I know the governor has already made a promise to increase education tremendously. The problem of course, is how we pay for that. And as I stated before, one of the ways we could pay for that is by implementing the internet sales tax and dedicating that money to education."
Question: Are red light cameras a violation of the Constitution?
Peter Nehr: "Last session I had a bill to get rid of red light cameras. In the session before that, the house legislature actually voted, and I was one of the people who voted to get rid of that. We actually passed the bill in the house that repealed red light cameras. But, I personally feel that they are a violation. I'm not quite sure whether it's a violation of the Constitution."
Carl Zimmerman: "I don't support them. I have nothing else to say about that. I don't support red light cameras. I do feel that it infringes on our right. There are many times when you are pulling up to a light and you have to really slam on your brakes in order to stop before that light turns red as you're going through. Cameras don't see you do this."