Setting the Record Straight – VOTERS BEWARE!

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St. Pete Times

We are now officially in the home stretch for the Pasco County Primary Election.  On August 24, I, along with many other local candidates will be on the ballot.  It is very exciting to see our campaign building steam as more and more people connect with our conservative family values platform.

The local newspapers have been working hard to publish information on the school board candidates.  There are twelve of us running in three districts, so I’m sure that they have had a difficult job to keep up with all of us.

Having said that, I was taken back by the grossly exaggerated description of my comments at the Pasco County Chamber of Commerce school board candidate debate which took place on Thursday evening, August 12, 2010.

It is important that YOU, the voter, know what I really stand for and believe, and what I really said.  Please take a few minutes to read my response to Jeff Solochek’s August 14th article in the St. Petersburg Times.

Printed Saturday, August 14, 2010, in the Pasco Times section of the St. Petersburg Times:  John Tracy’s comments at Pasco School Board candidate debate offend his rivals

First, I must be mistaken, but I thought Mr. Solochek was at the candidate debate to report on the subjects that were debated by the candidates.  There is little, if anything, in this article about that.  In fact, you would not know it from this article, but there were actually three full hours of debates featuring all twelve candidates for the Pasco County School Board.  No doubt, an article like this will certainly sell more papers than simply reporting the factual content of the evening.  So, allow me to set the record straight.

Here are the facts:

I came to this event ready to “debate,” not just answer questions.  It was a debate, not simply a candidate forum.  The purpose of a debate is to point out those areas that you are different from your opponent(s) and to distinguish yourself so that the voters can make an informed decision.  This may be a novel thought to some, but when five people are running for the same seat, they probably have varying beliefs on any given subject!  They probably do not all think alike.

In the course of the evening we discussed several topics: taxes, curriculum, charter schools, budget deficits, solutions to the economic crisis, etc.  It was apparent that there are some clear differences between the candidates on each of these subjects.  We’re not all the same.

For example, one candidate believes that the answer to our budget problems is to give a 10% pay cut only to those employees who make more than 100K per year.  That is not fair!  That is a modern day Robin Hood who takes from the rich to give to the poor.  That is classic redistribution of wealth.  I am not for that!  If we have to cut salaries, it should be an equitable cut for all, starting with the school board.  I pointed that out in the debate.

Another candidate is unwilling to rule out the possibility of raising taxes to cover our budget shortfalls, and has even gone so far as to say that those of us who refuse to consider that as an option are not being honest.  Really?  In this economic climate with such high percentages of unemployed people and houses in foreclosure, can you not emphatically state that raising taxes is a terrible idea?  I AM telling the truth when I say that to even talk about raising taxes right now is absurd!

It was in the spirit and context of this debate, which had virtually nothing to do with family values, that each candidate was given the opportunity to make one final closing remark.  I made the following 90 second statement:

“What sets me apart from my opponents is my long-term investment in the lives of families.  I’ve been on the frontlines for family values for a long time and so serving the students, parents, and teachers on the school board would be a natural extension of who I already am.

I’m not running for this position because it is the next convenient step, or for some kind of personal achievement, or like one of my opponents has said “I just think I would like to do board work”.  I don’t have some ulterior political motive.  This isn’t about me!  This is about the families of Pasco County.

I believe that, like never before, we need men and women of character in public office on the national, state, and local levels:  People who will say what they mean and do what they say.  People who won’t lie, cheat, or steal, even when it is hard to take a stand and do the right thing; People who will not flip-flop on their values.

A person’s moral character far outweighs his resume accomplishments, the amount of money he can raise as a politician, or even the political friends that he has.

Character is what matters most.

I want to be that kind of person for the families of Pasco County: a man of integrity and honesty who will work hard for our schools.

Frankly, I have great concerns with the direction that our nation is headed, and I intend to do everything that I can to make a difference in my lifetime so that I can leave a better America for your children and mine.

I’ll work hard, I’ll be a team player, and I’ll listen.  Let’s work together!”

Nowhere in that statement did I attack the values of my opponents.  I did not say that they were not people of integrity. I cannot comment on their personal values.  I do not know them well enough to do that.  I can only state that my intent is to be a man of character who represents the families of Pasco County.

It is always funny to me how the press will twist an event to create something in the minds of the public that did not actually take place.  This particular article misrepresents my statements and fails to accurately set the context of the debate forum.

Lesson learned.  Voters beware!  Do not trust the press.

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