District 37 candidates Zika, Rudisill address the issue of Corporate Welfare, among other major topics.
At a candidate forum put on by the West Pasco Republican Club on Tuesday evening, State House candidates for District 37 Ardian Zika and Elle Rudisill explained their platforms to a motivated audience in advance of the August 28 primary.
When the question and answer portion of each candidate’s time came, it became clear where the divide between the two Republican candidates really was. Speaking first, Rudisill was asked a question about corporate tax breaks. She explained the merits of such incentives, most notably that they can be used to grow state and local economies.
“I know that some people are not for it,” said Rudsill, “but in reality at the end of the day we do give corporations tax breaks, that sort of thing, incentives. That brings those corporations into our area, that brings thousands of jobs, that bumps up the economy.”
Pasco County is the fastest-growing county in the state of Florida. The members of the West Pasco Republican Club to whom Rudsill was speaking know firsthand how much of a boon growth can be to a community. All throughout Florida, the amount of people coming in is a route to a thriving economy, and making sure that the state is competitive for large corporations could send the Sunshine State to new heights.
When Zika was asked the same question at the end of his time to speak, he spoke as a small business owner. “I don’t call it financial incentive,” Zika said, “I call it corporate welfare. I own a small business, and I have not received a check from the government for my business but I am sending plenty of tax money out.”
Zika’s views align with many small business owners nationwide who believe that financial incentives for corporations stack the business climate against them. Small businesses, after all, compete with these large corporations on the local level, and state incentives to lure in big businesses often come at the expense of these small businesses. Zika mentioned his mechanic, and later a restaurant owner seated at the club meeting. Small businesses provide a way for many Americans to improve their station in life, creating a mobility critical to American capitalism.
The two competing views underline the ways Florida is changing. While being close to a few major cities, Trinity has a small town feel. At night, the roads get so dark that drivers have to use high beams. Earlier in the meeting, State Senate candidates were asked how to deal with traffic issues stemming from Pasco’s tremendous growth. Public transportation is becoming a growing concern as well. At the heart of it all, this growth is necessary for the local and state economy, but longtime members of the community still wish for their part of Florida to retain the qualities they they have always loved.
Candidates, then, such as Zika and Rudisill have to navigate how to continue growing their own communities along with the state, while making sure that the economic growth most benefits their constituents who are already here.
District 37 for the Florida House of Representatives includes Land O’ Lakes, Odessa, and nearby towns. The Republican candidate is one of three members of the GOP running for the seat in District 37, along with Ryan Boney and Elle Rudisill. The seat, which had been occupied by Florida House Speaker and Republican Richard Corcoran, is up for grabs in 2018 as Corcoran’s term limit is up. Tammy Garcia has declared her candidacy as a Democrat. In 2014 and 2016, Corcoran ran unopposed. The district is considered firmly “red,” making the Republican primary critical.
At the end of his question and answer session, Zika reminded the West Pasco Republican Club of their party loyalty, invoking what President Ronald Reagan called the “Eleventh Commandment,” his belief that Republicans should not attack other Republicans. “We are all on the same team,” implored Zika, a reminder that the primaries next week are only the beginning of election season and devout Pasco County Republicans will need to support whoever wins.