DADE CITY — A Democrat and a Republican have jumped into the District 38 race to replace Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who's leaving the House next year because of term limits.
Dade City Democrat Beverly Anne Ledbetter filed paperwork last week with the state Division of Elections to mark her first bid for elected office.
Also running is newcomer Trinity Republican Minerva "Minnie" Diaz, who filed election papers in July. As of Oct. 31, Diaz had raised $1,960 in cash contributions.
Diaz, 51, is a former Air Force officer, military chaplain and real estate agent. She moved to Pasco County from Maryland 10 years ago.
She describes herself as a community activist. She volunteered at the Calvary Chapel Worship Center in New Port Richey and worked at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office before stepping down from her ministry to run for public office. She's also a doctoral student, working on a degree in counseling.
"I decided to run because I have great ideas and incredible leadership skills and in this economy I have innovative and practical ideas to help the community and to help people get back on their feet," she said. "I believe in autonomy and self-governance, freedom and hard work and giving people the tools that they need to succeed."
Ledbetter, 60, a retired public school teacher, teaches incoming freshman about college life at Saint Leo University. She was the head of the social studies department at Pasco High School in Dade City before retiring in 2011.
She's the president of the East Pasco Democratic Club. Her husband, Michael, served on the Pasco County Commission in the late 1970s, but Ledbetter has never held office herself.
"I've always been involved in the community and trying to solve problems," she said. "A lot of things going on in Tallahassee really do not benefit hard-working Florida families and we need someone who is willing to sit down listen and find some common ground and work on some solutions so we can move forward."