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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 63 Candidate Shawn Harrison

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Shawn Harrison

Veteran politician Shawn Harrison is seeking his third term in the Florida House of Representatives.

The Republican served in the House from 2010 to 2012, representing District 60. In 2014, he was elected to the District 63 seat. His opponent Nov. 8 in District 63 is Lisa Montelione, who resigned her seat on the Tampa City Council to run for the state Legislature.

Age: 51 Education: University of South Florida, University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law Occupation: Attorney and founder of Shawn Harrison Associates Political Experience: Chairman of the Tampa Palms Community Development District, Tampa City Council, Chairman of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority, Florida House of Representatives

Harrison, who founded the law firm Shawn Harrison Associates and started a small business called Medical Collection Group, has been in politics for two decades.

“I started off as the chairman of the Tampa Palms Community Development of Development District, and the district achieved its first ever balanced budget under my chairmanship,” Harrison said.

He also served on the Tampa City Council for two terms.

Harrison suffered a political disappointment in 2012 when he sponsored HB 117, a bill that would have allowed zoos to put animals such as rhinos and elephants on state conservation land. Supporters of the bill said the move would help conserve the species, but Audubon of Florida opposed the measure.

“The bill passed through the Legislature, but the governor vetoed it,” Harrison said.  “I think it would have been great for conservation.”

Harrison said his long-term goals if re-elected include increasing funding to the University of South Florida; ensuring that vulnerable adults will have a cause of action against those who abuse, neglect or exploit them; and passing the Step Therapy bill, which would allow doctors to override therapy protocols.

Harrison said he believes that his experience, knowledge and ability to work with others is what differentiates him from his opponent.

“I have proven track record of being able to work across the aisle with my Democratic colleagues,” Harrison said. “When I was on the Tampa City Council, I was the only Republican, and I had to learn to compromise and come up with the best solutions for our community. My opponent lacks the bi-partisanship that I have, and she has no record of accomplishment in the district.”

Experience isn’t the only reason Harrison is seeking re-election. He also said he likes the job.

“The Florida Legislature is considered a part-time job, but it’s a full-time job, Harrison said. “I have to make a lot of sacrifices, but being a public servant is what I enjoy doing.”

Harrison had reported $240,518 in campaign contributions as of Oct. 14, according to campaign finance reports.  The Republican Party of Florida is a major donor.

Justin Reed 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.