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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 House Of Representatives District 39 Candidate Neil Combee

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Neil Combee

Republican Neil Combee is seeking his third term as the District 39 Florida House representative on Nov. 8.

The Polk County native and former Polk County commissioner was first elected to the Legislature in 2012 and was re-elected in 2014.

Age: 57 Education: Polk State College, Florida State University Occupation:Agribusiness, real estate sales Political experience: Elected to Florida House of Representatives in 2012, re-elected in 2014; served as deputy majority whip 2014-2016; Polk County commissioner for four terms.

During his tenure in the House, Combee has been involved in a variety of legislation.

According to his website, some highlights of his legislation include House Bill 235, “creating a one-stop shop for opening, changing or operating a business in Florida;” House Bill 223, “establishing a geologist-in-training program;” and House Bill 89, “amending Florida Statute Chapter 776 to specify that a person’s threat to use force is justifiable, not just use of actual force.”

The latter bill was overwhelmingly supported with 37 co-sponsors. It was signed into law on June 20, 2014, by Gov. Rick Scott.

Combee, 57, has a background in agribusiness and says he is passionate about agriculture. He currently serves as vice chairman of the State Affairs Committee. He is also part of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee and the Local and Federal Affairs Committee.Combee is affiliated with the National Rifle Association, the Polk Taxpayers League and the Polk County Farm Bureau, according to his website.

In the past, he has been involved with the Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee, Government Operations Subcommittee, Health Care Appropriations Committee and Regulatory Affairs Committee. 

Democrat Victor Sims, who turns 21 on Nov. 4, is his challenger in the Nov. 8 election.

Combee did not respond to requests for an interview.

Combee had received more than $97,000 in contributions as of Oct. 14, according to campaign finance reports. Donors include $1,000 from Publix, $1,000 from Walmart, and $1,000 from ABC Fine Wine and Spirits. 

The candidate was born in Lakeland. He lives in Polk City with his wife, Linda Weatherford, and his two children, Jerad and Beau.

Dana Achatz 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.