Red Tide, Road Projects Inform District 74 Race

Todays News


James Buchanan has experience running for state House, but his run in District 74 certainly feels more subdued than his last campaign. Linda Yates, meanwhile, has run successfully multiple times in North Port but now wants to expand her constituency with a bid for the legislature. The two Republicans this week can be spotted regularly outside early voting greeting voters, hoping to come out of the process as the party nominee running for an open House seat.

For Buchanan, the race offers a chance at redemption. He ran earlier this year originally as a favorite in the special election in District 72, then lost as the race turned into a referendum on President Trump. Now he’s in a much more Republican district, focusing on decidedly local issues like securing funding more quickly for River Road and removing regulatory hurdles for a new hospital to open in North Port.

“We’ve run a very clean and issues-based campaign and that’s something I’m very proud of,” says Buchanan. 

Yates, vice mayor of North Port, hopes eight years of municipal service impresses voters, and more importantly will inform her service in Tallahassee defending home rule for cities and counties. Her time at City Hall span eras of recession and prosperity, and it’s also given her experience hearing from all sides of contentious issues and weighing the arguments carefully before reaching a decision beneficial to the community.

“It’s about trying to find a way to address things and find a commonality unifying us all together,” Yates says.

Both agree a top priority for the region must be aiding constituents hurt by red tide. Buchanan notes Sharky’s on the Pier, run by family friends including high school classmates, has been temporarily shut down by algal blooms, and he says the state should help businesses thrive. Yates’ focus has been on setting up a new reservoir near Lake Okeechobee to prevent discharges that pollute the Gulf of Mexico waters and feed bloomd.

Yates has raised a little more than $11,000 in her campaign, compared to almost $64,000 raised by Buchanan. But she says her closeness to the community matters more. She notes Buchanan has moved around Southwest Florida as he pursued different House seats. “I live in this community and I am passionate about it,” she says. “I believe in grassroots efforts.”

Buchanan, though, notes his family history in the region and that he did grow up in the area. He says the more important difference in terms of governance is that he promises to practice restraint with budgeting. Government spending at North Port City Hall went up 37 percent during Yates eight years in office, he notes. “I’m a true fiscal conservative,” he says. “If you look at her record you can’t say that.”

Yates for her part says the cost of government projects has increased as the economy improved.

Buchanan and Yates face each other in the Aug. 28 Republican primary in District 74. The winner will face Democrat Tony Mowry and independent Robert Samuel Kaplan in the Nov. 6 general election.

Pictured: James Buchanan, Linda Yates.

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