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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.

Florida House Of Representatives District 58 Candidate Dan Raulerson

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Dan Raulerson

Dan Raulerson says he is more open and candid than the average politician. 

Raulerson, a Republican and former Plant City mayor, has twice been elected to the Florida House as the representative for District 58 since 2012, defeating opponent Jose Vazquez Figueroa in 2012 and 2014. The 59-year-old will be pitted against Vazquez Figueroa for a third time in the 2016 race for the House seat in District 58, which encompasses Plant City, where he lives. 

Age: 59 Education: Florida State University, bachelor’s degree Occupation: Certified Public Accountant; Florida House of Representatives, District 58 Political Experience: 2007, elected as one of five Plant City Commissioners, served two years as mayor of Plant City; past chairman of the Public Transportation Commission of Hillsborough County

Driving from the headquarters of his accounting firm in Plant City, Raulerson explained his core beliefs while exposing a penchant for dry wit and bluntly worded explanations. He also explained how his decision to abstain from running for state representative until his two children, Jaclyn and Alek, had reached college age had a profoundly positive impact on his life as a father and his effectiveness as a politician. 

“I had two young children, Alek and Jackie,” Raulerson says, noting that Jackie had been crowned Miss Florida 2010. “I had no business running off to Tallahassee and spending all that time away from my family. I would not have been a good legislator, and I would not have been a good husband or father. So I passed on that opportunity, and it was the best decision I ever made. 

As he occasionally engaged in a battle with Google Maps, lamenting the perils that technology poses to men his age, Raulerson asked a rhetorical question about the nature of power in the Florida House, which led by the speaker of the House.

“We crossed the pond 300 years ago to get away from a monarchy, did we not?” Raulerson says, noting that the speaker of the Florida House has the power to decide, “our parking spot … a speaker is king.” 

This is the sort of bluntness that Raulerson believes sets him apart from career politicians. He believes elected representative should not be paid at all, citing a letter written from Alexander Hamilton to Thomas Jefferson as one of the reasons for his stance. 

Brock Mikosky, 38, a consultant to the Raulerson campaign, agrees that the candidate rarely, if ever, shies away from what he sees as an honest assessment of any given situation. 

“The main reason to vote for Dan Raulerson in my estimation is that he is 100 percent a straight shooter, sometimes even to his own detriment,” Mikosky says. “He will always be honest with his constituents and will be truthful, whether good or bad.” 

Raulerson attributes this tendency to phrase such observations in a frank, unapologetic manner to the wisdom that comes with being a 59-year-old father of two who was a CPA long before he became involved with serious politics. Wisdom, he says, is what he sees as most lacking in an abundance of youthful politicians. He ties this point back to his own decision to avoid the high-profile political arena until he had sufficient time with his wife and children. 

“If you’re (a) young (politician) and you have young children, you need to get your priorities straight,” Raulerson says. 

Sam Mire 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.