Updated on 7/7/16 at 1:50 p.m.:
The two candidates for a Florida House seat representing much of Jacksonville faced off in a debate Wednesday afternoon. Republicans Jason Fischer and Dick Kravitz had similar positions on many issues, differing mainly over taxes.
Because there is no Democratic candidate, either former state representative Kravitz or former Duval County School Board member Fischer will become the next District 16 representative in the Republican primary election on August 30.
During the debate, moderated by News4Jax anchor Kent Justice and sponsored by the Southside Business Men’s Club, candidates covered issues ranging from taxes to gun control.
In their opening statements, Fischer presented himself as new blood to the state Legislature.
“I am a husband and father, businessman and engineer, and I’m worried about our future,” he said. “I’m tired of being lied to election cycle after election cycle by career politicians.”
Kravitz, who served eight years in the House of Representatives, pointed to his track record.
“I have both the proven leadership skills and legislative experience and will serve you with distinction, just like [incumbent] Representative [Charles] McBurney has,” he said.
On the issue of taxes, Kravitz said the existing tax structure is “actually adequate.” In his previous roles on the Jacksonville City Council and in the House, he said he voted to reduce property taxes and also supported Governor Jeb Bush’s tax saving plan.
In response, Fischer questioned the crowd. “How many of you here own your own business? Do you feel like the tax structure is burdensome or do you feel like it’s adequate?”
He proposed lowering the tangible personal property tax and the energy sales tax to boost the manufacturing industry in Florida. He also suggested eliminating the business income tax.
On the issue of education, Fischer said that he wanted to scrap the Common Core education standards and create a universal education scholarship account, which would allow parents to choose which school to send their children.
Fischer’s statements prompted a harsh rebuttal from Kravitz, who accused him of supporting a Common Core-aligned curriculum called Engage New York by not showing up at the meeting to vote against it. Fischer countered by saying that he had always voted against Common Core in Duval County, and the meeting in question was a “specially held meeting” that occurred when three board members were out of town.
“For you to tell people that I support Common Core is an absolute lie, and it is a disgrace to your legacy.” Fischer said.
Both candidates have high ratings from the National Rifle Association. Kravitz said federal and local enforcement agencies should communicate better with each other, as well as gun shops to share information about existing watch lists.
During his time on the School Board, Fischer said he fought to get the Eddie Eagle GunSafe program, an NRA-sponsored gun safety program, into schools to teach kids what to do if they found a gun.
On the subject of Florida’s decision not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, candidates agreed it is a good idea.
“Medicaid is a broken system,” Kravitz said. “It’s bankrupting our state.”
Fischer added the state should focus on health care affordability instead.
Following the debate, event-planning business owner Anne Urban said she wasn’t swayed by either candidate.
“They really saw eye-to-eye on several issues. There was only one that they didn’t really see eye-to-eye on,” she said. “It was more of a character assassination on each other, so that’s where I really want to do some digging.”
Below is the original post of this story:
The two candidates for a Florida House seat representing much of Jacksonville faced off in a debate Wednesday afternoon. Republicans Jason Fischer and Dick Kravitz had similar positions on many issues but disagreed over taxes.
House District 16 covers an area including San Marco, Mandarin, and Jacksonville’s Southside. Smack dab in the middle, Kravitz and Fischer faced off at the San Jose Country Club at a meeting of the Southside Business Men’s Club.
Afterward, event-planning business owner Anne Urban said she wasn’t swayed by either candidate.
“They really saw eye-to-eye on several issues,” she said. “There was only one that they didn’t really see eye-to-eye on. It was more of a character assassination on each other. So that’s where I really want to do some digging.”
Fischer is a former Duval County School Board member and engineer by trade. He says the Common Core academic standards should be scrapped. He also thinks the personal property tax should be lowered to stimulate the manufacturing industry.
But former state lawmaker Kravitz believes existing taxes are fair.
Both agreed on the need to promote health care affordability rather than expand Medicaid. And both defended the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
The open seat is being vacated by incumbent Rep. Charles McBurney. Because there is no Democratic candidate in the race, Republican voters will choose their representative in the August 30th primary.