Sean Shaw kicks off stretch run of District 61 campaign

  • Sean Shaw talks with supporters

Sean Shaw, candidate for the State House of Representatives District 61, celebrated the opening of his new campaign headquarters by hosting a community Bar-B-Q Saturday. The event served as a launching point for the District 61 seat, which encompasses Tampa Heights, Seminole Heights and the Temple Crest neighborhoods. In this Democratic stronghold, the winner of the Democratic primary generally advances to Tallahassee. His competition for the seat, being vacated by Betty Reed due to term limits, will be Ed Narain, Sharon Carter and Tatiana Denson.

“It’s an open democratic primary, so you know it’s a knife fight,” said Shaw of the upcoming election. “All of us believe in the same thing, we all believe in Medicaid expansion, we all believe in public education being adequately funded. It’s just how you can get it done and I believe that I am the best candidate that has the experience to get it done in Tallahassee.”

Perhaps the most well known example of this experience was his time as the Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate between 2008 and 2010.

Among Shaw’s strongest goals if elected would be aligning his district with all of the economic growth and development in the city.

“I always hear that Tampa is the engine that is fueling Florida’s economic recovery, I hear that the Tampa Bay region is just brimming with jobs. To walk around East Tampa I couldn’t tell. We want to share in that bounty, we want to make sure that some of that is coming to the residents here, make sure that we bring businesses here that will hire people that work in East Tampa, and we want to make sure that Medicaid is expanded, as one lonely Democratic voice in Tallahassee. I want to make sure that the transportation plans that are going on as we speak are going on in East Tampa, because that something for my district that would be incredible. … Every expanded bus stop, if the hospital expands, the airport expands, the port expands, light rail, bus, all of that effects my district. And it’s something that we just have to make sure that we’re involved in that process.”

Shaw also plans to develop mentorship programs for the youth in his district as well as increase the accessibility of trade schools.

Given that Shaw or any candidate from District 61 is heading to the solidly Republican state legislature, the risk of being a marginalized voice runs high. Shaw once again cited his experience and his willingness to stand up for his beliefs as the best way to counter any opposition.

“Politics is all about relationships, and certainly I have relationships in Tallahassee. We have to make sure that we elect a Democratic governor, which would certainly help. No matter what your number in the House of Representatives is, if you have a Democratic governor, that’s someone that you could work with. But it’s really making sure that you know the issues, are educated on the issues, know the process, you get it done. You don’t always fight to win; sometimes you fight to fight, so the next session you can do something.”

From Saturday's event, Shaw plans to ratchet up the pace of his campaign for the stretch run, with campaign events held daily. While understanding that speeches and ad campaigns were necessary, Shaw preferred the method of door to door canvassing, giving voters a personal connection to his campaign and possibly drawing out those who were not planning to vote. In a district that typically sees low turnout but with very discerning voters, Shaw stresses this connection in informing those in the district and pushing them to see what he can accomplish on their behalf in Tallahassee.

“You should judge someone by what they’ve already done, by their resume. And if you look at my resume I think it’s full of community service, it’s full of Tallahassee experience, and it’s full of fighting on behalf of those that need it the most. That’s what is going to inspire people to think that you can go to Tallahassee and get the job done.”


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