Former JAG Gregory Eyes State House Seat

Politics

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY MAR 27, 2018

One Sarasota attorney says he’s ready to take his skills from the courtroom to the Florida House of Representatives. Tommy Gregory, a retired military attorney now working as a senior counsel at Williams Parker in Sarasota, announced he will run for state House in District 73, which covers much of east Sarasota and Manatee counties.

The Republican says he wants to protect individual rights while promoting financial responsibility in Tallahassee. A self-described fiscal conservative, Gregory says he appreciates that Florida, unlike the federal government, has a balanced budget requirement in its constitution, but he’d like better restraint from lawmakers when it comes to raiding trust funds. “In particular, I see the impact on affordable housing,” he says. A board member for Habitat for Humanity Sarasota, he says it hurts families on the Gulf Coast when state funding disappears and erodes the power of public-private partnerships.

Gregory says he had not planned to run for this post before learning the current holder of the seat, state Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, planned to run for state Senate. But he would have voted differently on some issues than the incumbent.

Notably, Gregory says he could not support the school safety and gun control bill recently passed by the Legislature. While he supports many provisions, he says increasing the age of purchase to buy a firearm to 21 violates rights of individuals protected by both the U.S. and state constitution. “Saying ‘shall not be infringed’ is pretty clear language to me,” he says while quoting the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. He did not have strong objections to allowing professionals on campuses to carry firearms as part of a guardian program, so long as those individuals undergo proper training. 

Gregory has two children attending the State College of Florida Collegiate School so the issue of providing a safe, secure school system is personal; his youngest son attends St. Martha Catholic School.

He also feels strongly about maintaining proper funding and support for other programs in the state that help families and society. His own kids grew up in numerous schools around the world during his military service with the Air Force, and he says he understands the value stability at home can bring. He notes his wife Erica previously volunteered as Sarasota Medical Pregnancy Centers and also worked at Healthy Start.

The retired lieutenant colonel’s legal background includes work as a staff judge advocate for the 48th Fighter Wing in the UK, where he supervised a 35-person legal office. He says that gave him a healthy understanding in maintaining the public trust in a fair justice system, and he hopes as a lawmaker to also work on justice reform. “When people lose faith in the government, whether that’s in prosecuting criminals or spending taxpayer dollars, it’s a dangerous situation for a government,” he says.

Gregory is the first Republican to file for the open House seat, though more candidates are considering a run. Democrat Liv Coleman has also filed for the seat. 

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