Bean Promises That He ‘Will Not Be Outworked’
There are currently four Republican candidates running to replace State Senator Jim King in 2010. The first one to declare and the current financial front-runner is former State Representative Aaron Bean of Fernandina Beach.
Mr. Bean was kind enough to take some time to answer our questions about his campaign priorities, John Thrasher, and Senator King's health among other issues. Over the next few months we will be making an effort to talk with each of the candidates in this race.
OBSERVER: Tell us a little about your background. Why did you first get into politics?
BEAN: I have always been interested and active, from being Student Government President at Jacksonville University, to being the Founding President of the Nassau County Young Republicans. I first ran for City Commission in Fernandina Beach in 1996. I won and served two terms as Mayor of Fernandina. In 2000, I ran for State Representative. Although a lot of folks counted us out because no Republican had won the district 12 seat since the Civil War and the registration was 2-1 Democrats to Republicans, we did win 58-42%!
OBSERVER: During your eight years in the legislature, what are the three accomplishments you are most proud of?
BEAN: There are a handful of things, picking three is tough...
1. Creation of the Florida Health Choices Corporation. This public/private partnership will use market based principles to allow health access to millions who do not have health insurance by offering it through small employers. Look for this to take off in late 2009.
2. Self Directed Care. This is a redesign of how we spend mental health dollars in our state. The program was created with the help of advocates and volunteers and has created a much more efficient and effective way of spending state monies.
3. Fighting and succeeding on how we spend our education dollars in Florida. We changed the law to allow a more equitable way of student recognition dollars and acknowledging that students attending technical schools should should be eligible for need based scholarships.
OBSERVER: If voters decide to send you back to Tallahassee, what will your top priorities be in the State Senate?
BEAN: Priority #1 is taking care of constituents. I want to be their first choice to call when they have an issue with state government. There are still so many reductions in spending that need to be done. Giving more choice and flexibility for students in public, private and home schoolers. Fairness in how we spend our state funds.
OBSERVER: The legislature recently attempted to cut pay for state workers making more than $45,000 per year. However, Governor Crist has vetoed that out of the budget. Would you have supported making the cuts?
OBSERVER: You represented a State House District that has a relatively small overlap with the State Senate District in which you're running. What have you been doing to make yourself known to voters in the District beyond Fernandina Beach?
BEAN: Accepting every invite, speaking at every opportunity. I also have been volunteering for all kinds of organizations as an emcee and auctioneer.
OBSERVER: Your campaign raised a lot of money very quickly after you got into the race, however in recent months your fundraising numbers have cooled off. Is this because you feel like you've already raised enough money to win the seat?
BEAN: I do not think we have raised enough, it fact we sill have a long way to go. It just shows you how much an advantage those in office have over those who are not in office. I still worked hard while in office to raise funds, but it was much easier then.
OBSERVER: What was your reaction when you heard that former Speaker John Trasher was planning to enter the race? Does his candidacy change the dynamics of the contest?
BEAN: It does. We are most likely going to be outraised as Speaker Thrasher is expected to raise over $1 million. I may get outraised, but I will not be outworked. We are going to continue to work and meet as many voters, speak at every opportunity, discuss our record and debate ideas.
OBSERVER: We are all saddened by the recent announcement that Senator King has been diagnosed with cancer. Have you had any indications of whether or not he will be able to complete his term in the Senate while undergoing treatment? And if not, are you prepared for a special election that could be held as early as this Fall?
BEAN: I spoke with Senator King and like him, am optimistic for recovery.
OBSERVER: Thanks very much for taking the time to talk with us, is there anything else you would like our readers to know about your campaign?
BEAN: Our Republican Party has chosen some leaders that have not been as conservative as they campaigned. I have a reputation as being a proven conservative and a proven leader. Our State Senator is a big deal, so I ask everyone to "check under the hood" and do a little homework before voting.
In addition to working as a community relations officer for Shands Hospital, my wife and I are small business owners (Putt-Putt in Fernandina Beach). Come bring the family and play and enjoy the best ice cream!