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Politics / Issues
00000174-121d-d47e-a1f7-523d2c950000 WUSF News regularly collaborates with University of South Florida journalism classes in Tampa and St. Petersburg, providing students an opportunity to share their work with the greater Tampa Bay area.Some of the projects have included:“Past Plates” - a podcast and written stories produced in Spring 2017 that look into people’s memories and traditions related to food, food culture and food business in south St. Petersburg. In fall 2016, students profiled candidates running for Tampa Bay area elected offices. They were produced as part of the USF Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications' Advanced Reporting or Public Affairs classes; and as part of the Media and Elections class at USF St. Petersburg’s Journalism and Mass Communications Department.In 2015, WUSF journalists joined the USFSP Neighborhood News Bureau in creating oral histories of residents of St. Petersburg's historic Midtown neighborhood. That work was featured on WUSF's Florida Matters public affairs show.

Elections 2016: Florida Senate District 23 Candidate Frank Alcock

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Frank Alcock III

Frank Alcock III, a political science professor at New College of Florida in Sarasota, is the Democratic candidate for Florida Senate, District 23.

He is running against Republican Greg Steube for the seat held by Nancy Detert, who is leaving the Senate two years before the end of her term.  Steube has served in the Florida House, representing District 73, since 2010.

Age: 47 Education:Bachelor's Degree from Binghamton University in economics. Master's Degree from George Washington University in international affairs. Doctorate in from Duke University in political science. Occupation:Associate Professor of Political Science at New College of Florida Political Experience:Political contributor for WWSB-TV in Sarasota (2006-present), policy analyst and economist at the U.S. Department of Energy (1991-1997)

Alcock, who has lived in Sarasota since 2003, says making Florida a better place for working families to live is a priority . He said about 200,000 parents in Florida work full time but live in poverty.  He considers that a serious problem and supports raising the minimum wage. The average household income in Florida in 2014 was $47,212, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The federal government considers a family of four that earns about $24,300 a year to be living in poverty.

“The state that we live in is great for retirees, but not so great for working families,” Alcock says. “If you’re a minimum wage worker, it’s a very difficult state to live in.”

Raising the minimum wage to $15 has been debated over the past few years. Although Alcock supports a higher minimum wage, he said he does not think the increase will happen quickly.

“I’m strongly in favor of a living wage and a higher wage, and I will sign on to a $15 minimum wage goal,” he says. “Realistically, that is not something that our Florida Legislature will allow to happen for the state of Florida before the federal government acts on it. It’s going to take some time to get it to $15 an hour. So I wouldn’t fixate on a particular amount, but a higher minimum wage is something that I am strongly supportive of.”

The environment is another priority for Alcock, who has been endorsed by the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida and is a former policy analyst and economist at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Alcock says he does not think allowing the mining process of fracking makes sense in Florida because of the threat to the state’s water quality. He also said he expects a plan to spend $2 billion to accelerate the cleanup of Lake Okeechobee, which he said is not a popular idea within the sugar industry based in South Florida. 

“Big Sugar is not too excited about the idea,” he said. “They’re pushing back on it already.”

Alcock, who calls himself “a proud defender of Planned Parenthood,” also has been endorsed by Florida Planned Parenthood PAC and the Democratic Women’s Club of Florida. He said he will fight against plans to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.

“To choke off funding, which is dedicated to HIV and cancer screenings … and to take away doctors that women and families trust just to take away funding for Planned Parenthood … I’m against it on just about every level,” he says. “I think it’s an intrusion of politicians in an area that they don’t belong.”

Alcock's campaign had received $125, 147 in contributions as of Oct. 21.

Alyssa Alonso is a student journalist attending the University of South Florida Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications. This story was produced as part of the school’s Advanced Reporting or Public Affairs class this semester, under the leadership of instructors Wayne Garcia and Wendy Whitt.