Our Q&A With Senate Candidate John Thrasher
OBSERVER: Tell us a little about your background. Why did you first get into politics?
THRASHER: From 1998 to 2000, I served as the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, championing historic legislation, such as “Three Strikes, You're Out,” “10-20-Life,” “A+ Education Plan” and the largest tax cut in Florida history. I was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1992 and was subsequently re-elected. During my public service in the House, I represented District 19, which includes parts of Duval, Clay and St. Johns Counties. While representing District 19, I served as the chairman of the Clay County Delegation from 1993 to 1994 and was a Republican Caucus Policy Committee member from 1992 to 1993. Additionally, I served as a soldier in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1970 before being honorably discharged and awarded multiple decorations. I graduated from Florida State University with a Juris Doctorate in 1972. Since leaving public office due to term limits, I've been an active community member serving on various boards, while also continuing to be a successful businessman, husband and father. I'm married to Jean Thrasher and have three children and eight grandchildren.
I first got involved in politics at the county level and with the support of my family, I decided that public service was a way to serve my community and help better the lives and futures for my children and all families that live and work in Northeast Florida.
OBSERVER: We were all saddened by the recent passing of Senator King, he's left some big shoes to fill. What makes you the best man for the job?
THRASHER: Having served our community in the Florida House of Representatives and championing legislation, such as Three Strikes, You’re Out, 10-20-Life and A+ Plan, and delivering $1 billion in tax cuts, I feel that I have the experience, the dedication and the commitment to be an advocate for Northeast Florida.
OBSERVER: During your time as Speaker of the House, what are the three accomplishments you are most proud of?
THRASHER: While serving as the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, I was proud of what we were able to accomplish for the entire state, including $1 billion in tax cuts and the passage of the historic Three Strikes, You’re Out, 10-20-Life and A+ Plan.
OBSERVER: If voters decide to send you back to Tallahassee, what will your top priorities be in the State Senate?
THRASHER: If I am elected to serve the voters of Northeast Florida, my top priorities would be reducing government spending, ensuring lower taxes, and improving education standards and continuing adequate funding for our region.
OBSERVER: The legislature recently attempted to cut pay for state workers making more than $45,000 per year. However, Governor Crist vetoed that out of the budget. Would you have supported making the cuts?
THRASHER: In a time when all expenditures are being examined, I do believe that we should examine state employees’ pay. I do believe these employees are valuable, and I would first recommend looking at the highest salaries, as a means to trim the state budget at the state government level.
OBSERVER: Several groups, backed mostly by trial lawyers, have launched some pretty aggressive attacks on your candidacy. Among other things, they've accused you of using a state plane to fly to Texas in order to pick out a desk for your office. What is the background story about these redecoration expenses? Did you abuse the state plane while in office?
THRASHER: While serving as Speaker in the Florida House of Representatives, the House Chamber, which had not been renovated since the construction of the Capitol in the 1970s, needed renovations and did not meet ADA standards. Additionally, public access to committee meetings was strained. The renovations completed were an extensive project that not only brought the House Chambers up-to-date, but also added numerous committee meeting rooms in order to provide better public access to the legislative process. The project was competitively bid and the low bid happened to be from a firm in Texas. My trip to their facility in Texas (in my two years as Speaker, it was the only time I requested use of the state plane) was to make sure they were going to be able to complete the project to the standards that were being proposed. It had nothing to do with picking out a desk for myself. It is also important to note that nearly 20% of the cost of the renovation was directly attributable to meeting ADA standards.
OBSERVER: What was your reaction when you heard that School Board member Stan Jordan was planning to enter the race? How does his candidacy change the dynamics of the contest?
THRASHER: I am focused on my candidacy and serving my community. I am not focused on any other particular candidate.
OBSERVER: Jeb Bush has endorsed you and starred in several of your television commercials. Can we also expect him to visit the First Coast to campaign on your behalf?
THRASHER: I am very humbled by Governor Bush’s involvement in my campaign. He is a great friend and has done so much to help already. I have not asked him to visit, but would welcome him if he wanted to come.
OBSERVER: On a personal note, what's your favorite place to grab a bite to eat?
THRASHER: My favorite place to enjoy a meal is at my home with my wife, three children and eight grandchildren.
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? How can they get in touch with you?
THRASHER: My campaign will be about building the community up and not tearing down any other candidate. I believe that our district deserves a spirited campaign that focuses on the issues and concerns of our region. I look forward to shaking every hand and earning every vote, and thank all of our hardworking volunteers, supporters and my fellow Republicans for their support of my candidacy.
For more information on the John Thrasher for Senate Campaign, please visit www.electthrasher.com or contact the campaign headquarters at (904) 398-1480.