BY MARCY PALMERI, Contributor
ST. PETERSBURG — Stephen C. Sarnoff is running for District 67’s seat within the House of Representatives currently being occupied by Ed Hooper, whose term is coming to an end.
This past Monday while the majority of citizens were ending their workday, this candidate’s day was in full swing. Sarnoff attended Williams Park for Moral Monday urging residents to vote and reminding them that it is their right and responsibility to do so.
He was not serving his time kissing babies and shaking hands, he genuinely perceived his active participation among the people as an ethical and moral obligation, making time to answer questions and enjoying the fanfare.
“I listen to and live with these people. I shop and dine with them. They are my neighbors and friends. They are from where my votes are coming. I’ve met and helped them. They know me as a person. I worry about them,” said the candidate.
Touted as a voice for working families in District 67, Sarnoff brings with him a strong background as the president of Communications Workers of America union local chapter 3179, protecting the rights of public workers in Clearwater, Largo, St Pete Beach, Madeira Beach and Port Richey.
He works for the city of Clearwater as an accounts coordinator in the Solid Waste Department and has served on the Board of Clearwater/Upper Pinellas Chapter of the NAACP.
There are several reasons why he believes his district will be better served with him at the helm rather than his opponents.
“The major differences between myself and Chris Latvala is I’ve been in the community for 27 years, raised my family, had financial difficulties and have struggled. I have more in common with the people than he does. I listen and do things that make their lives better. With me there is no, ‘pay to play.’”
Latvala boasts having a political pedigree, which consists of being the son of a senator and an aid to District 67’s current Representative, Ed Hooper. While Latvala was creating campaign sign’s for his father’s printing company, the now 31 year old decided, he too, was interested in politics. He is still associated with his father’s printing company, serving as the vice president.
Sarnoff has received the full endorsement of the Florida AFL-CIO, the Tampa Bay Times and Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association.
“Public education is a constituent mandate in the state of Florida. We agreed to have a lottery that was supposed to enhance the educational system, but instead they put it into balancing the budget. Charter schools are unaccountable and we are not permitted to see the books.”
If students start at a charter and after two weeks decide that despite the promises the school is not meeting the needs of their child and then transfers to a public school, the money designated for that child does not transfer with the student. Instead that money stays at the charter school, forcing the public school to scrounge for dollars to pay to educate the student.
Sarnoff wants to educate families about the potential empty promises made by and the consequences affiliated with these alternative schools.
Sarnoff speaks passionately in favor of the Greenlight Pinellas Plan, which includes bus improvements and an eventual passenger rail that will complement the public transportation already in place in Pinellas County. If the proposed 1 percent sales tax passes next week, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will move forward with the Greenlight Pinellas Plan.
“Some don’t have a way to get to work or they can’t afford a vehicle. The Greenlight Pinellas Plan will help people by not having to pay for cars, gas or worry about parking. People who need to go to class or work will not have to be concerned about catching a bus after a certain hour when the busses stop running. We need viable mass transit,” he said.
Car repairs, insurance and traffic will not be a concern to many people if the Greenlight Pinellas Plan is put into place, he indicated.
Creating jobs with a fair wage is within the district’s grasp with the current resources they have right now. “Our state is a major employer,” Sarnoff contends. He goes on to say that Rick Kriseman took a much needed step toward increasing wages for our city workers by negotiating a hike to $12.50 per hour. In the union Sarnoff heads up, no one is paid less than $10.50 per hour.
“Kids aren’t staying here. They are moving away because of opportunities. This change is necessary.”
Sarnoff believes in a strong quality of life and that people come to Florida for that very reason. “People want to be here. The visitors eventually move here. That’s our treasure. Our talents and our goals. We have to help people.”
Inside information not widely known about this candidate includes:
- He and his wife just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.
- They have four grandchildren.
- His mother lives in Greenbriar, just north of Clearwater and his sister also lives in the area.
- Something he’s asked often when people hear his last name is if he’s related to the star football player at Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater. The answer is YES.