LIZ ALPERT, Democrat
BIRTHPLACE: Alton, Ill.
FAMILY: Three adult children, ages 45, 30, 29
EDUCATION: B.A., University of South Florida, summa cum laude, 1995; J.D., Stetson University College of Law, 2005
PROFESSIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Currently practicing marital and family law with Tannenbaum Scro Hannewich & Alpert, P.L. ; member of the city of Sarasota General Personnel/Civil Service Board; other memberships: Florida Bar Association; Sarasota County Bar Association; Hillsborough County Bar Association; Florida Bar Family Law Section Support Issues Committee; Sarasota County Bar Association Family Law Section; Tiger Bay Club.
FUN FACT: Moved to Sarasota in 1974. My first job was in the Sarasota Clerk of Courts Small Claims division. When I started the job, I didn’t know the difference between a “plaintiff” and a “defendant.” Now I am an attorney.
What is your position on Citizens Property Insurance Co.? What role should the state play in insuring private property?
Citizen’s Property Insurance Co. plays an important role as the insurer of last resort for homeowners. For many years, it was the only way that some property owners could get insurance when private insurance companies declined to write policies in Florida.
The state should have a mechanism in place for property owners to be able to buy affordable insurance on their property.
What is your position on the state of Florida regulating property insurance rate increases and pricing?
The state has a role to protect consumers to ensure fair and reasonable insurance prices.
Why should the state control property insurance rates when we know that this policy has restricted competition and limited the number of companies willing to sell property insurance here?
Insurance regulation has not restricted competition nor limited the number of companies willing to sell property insurance here. After the 1992 hurricane season and then after the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, some companies decided not to write insurance in Florida, but not because of insurance regulation. It was due to the perception of increased risk and the inability of some of these companies to stay in business because of the costs of that catastrophic year.
These companies are coming back now that there has been a lull in major hurricanes in Florida. That is why they are fighting so hard to get the homeowners who are currently insured by Citizens Property Insurance.
What is your position on: 1) School choice and school vouchers? 2) Teacher tenure in K-12 and the college level?
I do not support school vouchers, which take funds from our public schools and give it to private corporations that can operate schools without any accountability.
Teacher tenure is a means of encouraging people to choose teaching as a profession. A stable and secure job is a trade-off for choosing a profession that pays less than other professions for the same education level and skills.
However, this does not mean that teachers who obtain tenure have a job for life. There are mechanisms that allow teachers to be evaluated, so that underperforming teachers can be eliminated. As in the private sector, teachers should be required to maintain certain performance standards.
What, in your view, is the proper role of state government in public education?
State government should be an integral part of public education from funding to oversight, to establishing educational standards.
What is your position on the FCATs?
I believe too much emphasis is placed on the FCATs. Valuable teaching time is being expended to teach to the test. There are so many other skills that students need than merely learning how to take tests.
What is your position on the state providing corporate welfare to companies that either expand or move to Florida? How and why are these subsidies morally acceptable?
Unfortunately, all states provide incentives for companies. Therefore, to compete for these companies, Florida must do the same. When the state is deciding on whether to provide incentives or, as you call it, corporate welfare to companies that either expand or move to Florida, the question should be whether that company is going to add value to our economy and/or spur economic growth. If it will, then it makes sense to provide those incentives.
However, a mechanism should be in place to recover those incentives should the expanded or relocated company not live up to the promised benefit.
Will you take the Americans for Tax Reform pledge not to increase taxes if you are elected or re-elected? If not, why not?
I would not take the Americans for Tax Reform pledge. The people elect their representatives to make prudent decisions related to governing. Taking a pledge never ever to do something, no matter what it is, does not make good sense and limits the solutions available to the representative for solving problems facing the state.
Medicaid costs are increasing at almost double-digit annual rates. How do you think Florida should handle the growth in Medicaid?
One of the reasons Medicaid costs are increasing is because of the lack of jobs. It goes back to education and opportunity and growing the economy. We have young people leaving our state because of the lack of opportunity here to pursue a career.
People don’t want to be on Medicaid. If we create policies that will grow our economy, then individuals can afford to take care of themselves and their family, which could slow or even reverse Medicaid expansion.
In addition, preventive medicine and encouragement of a healthy lifestyle should be promoted.
What will be your top three priorities if elected?
Investing in public schools; early childhood education; making higher education affordable; preparing students with the skills to fill the types of jobs available; adequately funding public education.
Create jobs and protect the middle class. Growing our economy by investing in small business; investing in infrastructure; and encouraging the expansion of smart, efficient, green jobs.
Defend women’s health care. Protecting women’s rights to make their own health-care decisions, not Rick Scott and Tallahassee politicians.
PHOTO GALLERY: Ponies Under the Palms
Shelby, Mustang and enthusiasts of other Ford-made vehicles gathered Nov. 23 for the 23rd annual Ponies Under the Palms event on Lakewood Ranch Main Street.
PHOTO GALLERY: Mixon Harvest Festival
Families enjoyed a breezy afternoon of fried food, circus-style entertainment, crafts, games and a car show at Mixon Harvest Festival, Nov. 23, at Mixon Fruit Farms.
PHOTO GALLERY: "South Pacific" Music Video
"South Pacific" cast members Meggie Cansler and Ryan Cavanaugh led a motley crew of theater lovers through a remixed rendition of "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" for Asolo Repertory Theatre's family day
FILM REVIEW: 'The Theory of Everything'
Imagine living a life in which your mind is the only properly functioning part of your body. That is theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking's world.
24 Baby Wearing Dance Class
10:00 am - 11:00 am
25 Cine Selby
26 One Touch Art and Bedding
8:00 am - 6:00 pm
26 Thanksgiving Eve Service-Traditional Service
7:00 pm - 6:00 am