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Congressional candidates spar over District 3


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With 12-year congressman Cliff Stearns relinquishing his seat, North Central Florida’s new District 3 has become a political battleground.

Republican Ted Yoho, Democrat J.R. Gaillot and independent Philip Dodds are facing off to win a district that encompasses all or part of 13 counties, from the Gulf Coast to the state line to the Jacksonville suburbs.

None of the candidates have previously run for office.

In August, Gainesville veterinarian Yoho topped Stearns in the GOP primary by about 800 votes. Stearns represented District 6 until redistricting, which occurs every 10 years, lost him much of his support.

A University of Florida alumnus and father of three, Yoho has lived in North Central Florida for more than 35 years.

He stands firm on several conventional Republican views, such as mandating that immigrant workers pay taxes. He is anti-abortion and holds an “A” rating from the NRA.

Yoho said he thinks the economy is the most important issue and that it can be fixed by removing uncertainty in Washington.

He said he plans to remove and replace the Affordable Care Act, saying the act deters businesses from expanding. Yoho also plans to reduce regulations on businesses and simplify the tax code.

Fleming Island resident Gaillot, also a father of three, supports the Affordable Care Act. The cellphone accessory store owner stands with Obama in thinking the Romney-Ryan plan will turn Medicare into a voucher program.

Gaillot supports legislation to give tax benefits to companies that bring jobs back to America from overseas.

He wants to expand the Gainesville airport, saying the expansion will create about 700 jobs and help economic development. He said he will explore alternative energy possibilities, including domestic drilling and solar energy.

Gaillot supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which ensures equal pay for women. He wants to increase tax credit for college students from $4,000 to $8,000.

Software engineer Dodds is running for the congressional seat without a party affiliation. He has lived in Alachua County for 20 years and, like his opponents, has three children.

Dodds wants to remove No Child Left Behind, believing the program ignores fundamental problems with the education system.

He said he thinks federal spending should be based on performance, not fee-for-service. He holds special interest groups accountable for several of the nation’s issues, such as high healthcare costs.

Dodds created a website allowing District 3 to vote for proposals through Facebook and email.

The district’s next congressman will be elected on Nov. 6. The winner will serve in the House of Representatives for two years and earn a salary of $174,000.

Katherine Hahn wrote this story for online.

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