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5 Candidates Vie for New Florida House Seat

The new House seat covers FishHawk Ranch, Sun City Center, Wimauma and parts of Bloomingdale and Riverview.

So far, five candidates have filed to battle it out for the newly created Florida House seat that was carved out of districts 56 and 62.

District 57 was created during redistricting last year and represents voters in Lithia, Sun City Center, Wimauma and parts of Bloomingdale and Riverview.

New district lines are drawn every 10 years in keeping with population shifts identified in the U.S. Census.

As of May 7, the deadline for turning in the required petition signatures to get on the ballot, three Republicans and two Democrats had filed to represent the new district.

Candidates can still run for House seats by paying 6 percent of a House member's salary of $29,697, or $1,800, by early June.

The five candidates currently running for the newly created District 57 seat are Republicans Jake Raburn of FishHawk, Brian Hollands and Joe Wicker, both of Riverview, and Democrats Bruce Barnett of Valrico and Mark Taylor of South Tampa.

Races that draw more than one Republican or Democrat will include a primary, scheduled for Aug. 14.

Bruce Barnett

Democrat Barnett, 48, was born in Tampa and is a product of the Florida public school system. He graduated from Pinellas Park High School and attended St. Petersburg Junior College before entering the U.S. Army, where he graduated from the prestigious Defense Language Institute and served as a Czech linguist with the 66th Military Intelligence Company of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Following his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army, Barnett worked his way through college while managing operations in the trucking industry. After completing bachelor of science in economics, he obtained a master's degree in business administration. He moved to his current home in Valrico in 1999.

Barnett works for General Transportation Services in Brandon.

He has been married to Birgit for more than 20 years and has one daughter, Jan, who attended Lithia Springs Elementary School, Randall Middle School and is about to graduate from Newsome High School and head to the University of Central Florida.

Jake Raburn

Raburn, 27, a Republican, was born in Tampa and raised in Plant City. Also a product of the public education system, he graduated from Plant City High School before attending the University of Florida in Gainesville. After four years at the University of Florida, Raburn obtained a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communication with minors in food and resource economics and agricultural law.

After graduation, Raburn went to work for the Florida Department of Citrus. As a marketing specialist with the state agency, he learned the ins and outs of the citrus industry. After two years there, Raburn had the opportunity to go to work for Hinton Farms Produce Inc. Hinton Farms, his wife, Melissa's, family farming operation, is a producer, packer, cooler and shipper of strawberries, blueberries and other fruits and vegetables grown  in District 57. Raburn works in sales, serves as director of marketing and previously served as the director of food safety for the company.

In the community, Raburn serves on the board of directors with the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau, the Florida Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Leadership Committee, the marketing committee of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association and as a director on the University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Alumni Board.

Raburn is also a member of the Plant City and Brandon chambers of commerce and has been a member of Plant City’s First Baptist Church for 17 years.

Numerous members of Raburn's family are educators and administrators in the Hillsborough County School District, including his parents, Buddy and Susan Raburn.

Raburn has been married to Melissa Hinton Raburn of Riverview since May of 2008. Melissa, a former teacher and coordinator of the Banner Center for Agriscience, is now a small business owner and stay-at-home mother to their year-old son, Jackson.

Joe Wicker

Joe Wicker, 33, is a Republican. While working in the financial services industry in 2001, Wicker was called to active duty and two deployments to Iraq. In 2003 Wicker served as a tank platoon leader and in 2007 served as an adviser to the Iraqi Security Forces.

In 2008, Wicker returned to Hillsborough County and was recruited as a business manager for a division of International Paper Co. where he currently manages more than $20 million in supply chain services.

He said his work experience gives him insight into bio-energy technology, sustainability, finance, postal issues, trade and transport.

Wicker is married to Amy Elam of Brandon and they both attend The Crossing Church. He remains active with the Wounded Warrior Project and Operation Helping Hand. Wicker also serves as a member of the Hillsborough County Republican Party Executive Committee

Brian Hollands

Republican Brian Hollands, 45, works in business development for Hillsborough Community College's corporate training program in Tampa. He has been president of the South Shore Republican Club and served almost two years on the Hillsborough County Planning Commission. He and his wife, Bonnie, have a year-old son.

Mark Taylor

Democrat Mark Taylor, 53, grew up in Orlando, graduated from West Point in 1980 and served seven years as an Army officer. In 2004, he moved to Tampa, where he lives with his wife, Wendy. He oversees regional maintenance operations for Sunoco Inc.

Other Races

Running against incumbent Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, for the District 59 House seat is Republican Michael Floyd, 67, a retired law enforcement officer.

Running for District 58 is Plant City Mayor Dan Raulerson, R-Plant City. He currently has no opponents.

On the Senate side, District 10 incumbent Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, will face Republican David Simmons of Orlando and independent John Zanni Jr. of Riverview to retain her seat.

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