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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 House Of Representatives District 40 Candidate Colleen Burton

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Colleen Burton

Republican Colleen Burton wants to keep her job representing District 40 in the Florida House of Representatives.

Burton, who as a freshman representative was deputy majority whip, has served on several committees during her term, including the Health and Human Services Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Choice and Innovation Subcommittee.

Age: 58 Education: California State University Occupation: Strategic Planning Consultant Political Experience: Florida House 2014-2016 – deputy majority whip

The Lakeland resident says community service has been a priority. Polk County attorney Bradford Stewart, who supports Burton in the race, praised Burton’s leadership skills. Burton led a countywide planning process called Polk Vision and has a talent for bringing people together, he says.

“People all over the community were brought together to discuss how to make the county more successful in areas like government, infrastructure, economic development, education, quality of life and civic engagement,” Stewart say.

Burton has served on the boards of directors for many organizations, Stewart says. Among them are the Lakeland Republican Women’s Club, Volunteers in Service to the Elderly Advisory board, United Way of Central Florida Community Impact Cabinet, Polk Hunger Council and a Polk Tourist Development Council subcommittee. 

She has been endorsed by groups such as the Police Benevolent Association, Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Polk County Builders Association.

Burton has lived in Lakeland since 1993 and is active in her church, Resurrection Catholic Church, according to her campaign website.

Burton did not respond to requests for an interview.

Burton’s campaign website outlines her position on several key topics, including immigration.  She says she believes the needs of Floridians should come first and that immigrants should enter the country legally. She is pro-life and believes that life begins at conception, she fights to protect Second Amendment rights, she wants to create jobs through small businesses and wants to lower government spending and taxes, according to her website. She also wants to expand school choice by allowing parents the option to send their children to charter schools. She wants to make colleges in Florida more affordable.

Burton faces Democrat Dean Shandale Terrell, a Lakeland native, on Nov. 8.  Currently, all the House seats in Polk County are held by Republicans, according to the Polk County Supervisor of Elections.

Burton had received $221,998 in campaign contributions as of Oct. 21, according to state campaign finance reports.

Kendall Davis 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.