Tuesday's state house election: Ricky Shirah will support schools and teachers. Josie Tomkow will hurt them and support Richard Corcoran. Choose accordingly.
There's an election Tuesday for state house seat 39, the seat the Neil Combee vacated a few months ago for a cushy federal government job.
Here is the map so you can see if you need to vote. It's basically Polk County north of I-4, plus much of the area between Lakeland and Auburndale. Click to enlarge. And go vote.
If you are a teacher or any kind of stakeholder in public education, your choice is abundantly clear:
If you want to change Tallahassee, and make it a partner in education, you should vote for Ricky Shirah.
If you want Tallahassee to keep hurting you -- if you like the Kelli Stargel approach -- you should vote for Josie Tomkow.
I don't know Josie Tomkow. I haven't met her. She may be a nice person. But I know she was selected by Neil Combee to fill his seat and do the bidding of House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Neil is proudly loyal to Corcoran, who has been an enemy of every local community in Florida, especially in education. Tomkow has shown no indication of any positions that are her own.
If you like excessive standardized testing and VAM scores and fraudulent school grades and threats to close schools, Josie Tomkow is your candidate. If you are a teacher or stakeholder of a public school, and you want Tallahassee to keep hurting you, she will keep hurting you. Because that's what her leadership will tell her do. It's just a fact, whatever your party or ideology. You are Josie Tomkow's stepping stone to something personally beneficial. Her campaign is about her entitlement and the power of Tallahassee leadership -- not you or your kids.
By contrast, Ricky Shirah is a friend to public schools. He's put in endless hours as a volunteer and supporter of Kathleen Middle and High School. He believes in the changes we're trying to make here in Polk and in Florida. He won't go to Tallahassee just so he can grovel to Richard Corcoran. Ricky is loyal, fiery, passionate and persistent. He's in nobody's pocket. That's what I want in an elected official. I'm proud that he supported me as a board member; and I'm proud to support him.
Ricky is, above all, loyal to Polk County and to your kids.
Isn't it time we had somebody representing Polk County in Tallahassee who cares about Polk County? Ricky's the underdog in this race, the Democrat in a traditionally Republican district. [I'm an independent, for what it's worth.]
But if you're one of our many Republican educators, ask yourself this: what has the leadership of today's Florida Republican party delivered to you but pain? You can begin sending the message on Tuesday that you can't be taken from granted. Until you send that message, they will take you for granted.