Kathy Castor Archives - Page 5 of 32 - SaintPetersBlog

At USF, Kathy Castor touts legislation to address growing need for more nurses

Nursing is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country.

But despite that growth, the demand is still outpacing the supply. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.2 million vacancies will emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022.

And according to Dr. Charles Lockwood, the medical dean of the University of South Florida’s Morsani School of Medicine, the gap may be even worse than anticipated. He says because the demand for nurses is going to expand with our changing health care delivery systems, “we don’t know what the number is, really.”

That’s why Tampa Democratic Representative Kathy Castor says she became a co-sponsor on a bill last week (H.R.  959) that would extend education nursing grants to support clinical nurse specialist programs.

“It provides a pathway to good paying jobs and nursing all across the country and is especially important in a state like Florida that continues to grow and have such needs for a nursing work force,” she said at a news conference held at the newly revamped USF College of Nursing George & Marian Miller Center for Virtual Learning on Monday. “The bill allows for certain scholarships and repayment programs and encourages nursing professionals to go into underserved neighborhoods and to learn clinical skills.”

Although noting that the Tampa Bay area’s unemployment numbers are impressively low, it is still a struggle to bring higher paying jobs to the region. Nursing, Castor said, is a direct pathway to a good paying job for someone in a hospital, doctor’s office, or as a teacher.

Dr. Lockwood agreed, saying that the real problem in the nursing industry is a loss of faculty members to teach the nurses of tomorrow.  “That’s really the primary job that I think we face at USF, to make sure the faculty pipeline is filled,” he said.

The statistics bear him out.

According to an American Association of Colleges of Nursing report, “U.S. nursing schools turned away 79,659 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2012 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints.”

“A lot of our students have to work and go to school at the same time so they can go to pay their college tuition, and by having this type of program, that allows them to have their education paid for, (and) they’re able to concentrate more on their studies,” said Dr. Teresa Gore, Director of Experimental Learning at the USF College of Nursing.

“Investing in our nurses is an investment in our health, an investment in our community, and an investment in our sustainability as a vibrant society,” added Dr. Donna Petersen, Dean of USF College of Public Health, the Interim Dean at the USF College of Nursing.

 

Kathy Castor calls some of Donald Trump’s actions ‘beneath the dignity of the office’

It’s less than a month into Donald Trump’s presidency, but Congresswoman Kathy Castor is not impressed so far, describing some of his actions and demeanor “beneath the dignity of the office.”

“President Trump is simply unprecedented,” the Tampa Democrat said to reporters following a news conference held at the USF College of Nursing George & Marian Miller Center for Virtual Learning. “His actions and demeanor are really beneath the dignity of the office. And I worry about young people and kids seeing that as an example of their president and Commander in Chief. Hopefully he’ll rein that in.”

Castor joined her House Democratic colleagues at a retreat in Baltimore last week, where they attempted to find a common strategy to combat Trump and the GOP-majority Congress over the next two years. She said that she is well aware that the Democratic base is alive and engaged in politics in a way never before seen in her decade long in Washington.

“The grassroots are on fire,” she said. “People want to know – what’s coming up on the floor of the House this week. So that’s a little bit different, where we’re having to educate all of our neighbors and encourage them and teach them how to weigh in.”

Castor says that the nature of Trump’s attempted ban on refugees and his “playing footsie” with Russian leader Vladimir Putin are actions that “really undermine our national security.”

“So there are a lot of very serious issues, and you can’t blame our neighbors for being on edge, upset and wanting to be engaged,” she surmised.

For the second consecutive weekend, one of Castor’s GOP colleagues in the Tampa Bay Congressional delegation, Pasco/Pinellas Representative Gus Bilirakis heard from dozens of angry constituents regarding his intent to replace and repeal the Affordable Care Act. Eight years ago, it was Castor who was singled out for her support of the ACA, specifically when facing a hostile crowd of Tea Party activists at a town hall on the ACA at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.

“People are scared and that’s what you’re seeing at these town hall meetings for members of Congress,”she said, adding that “folks are reasonably frightened that there’s going to be this radical repeal plan, they’re just going to rip the rug out from under families. That’s the fight right now.”

Charlie Crist may be likable, but how soon before he eyes a new gig?

One of Charlie Crist’s best traits is his likability.

He can be a candle-in-the-wind on issues, depending on his audience. Changing parties infuriated Republicans and made Democrats skeptical. And once he gets a job, he tends to get wandering eyes for his next gig. But damn, he is a really nice guy. Despite his baggage, people like him and a lot of them vote for him.

That’s one reason he rose above the political tsunami that swamped Democrats nationwide and beat another good guy in Republican David Jolly to represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Given that, it’s puzzling that Crist so far apparently hasn’t used his best trait to solidify the home base, even as he adjusts to life in the U.S. House of Representatives. Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reported Sunday Crist has had a series of stumbles that have supporters wondering what the heck is going on.

Smith wrote that Crist and his wife, Carole, who is paid to oversee his political activities, “generated widespread grumbling and head-scratching about his clumsy start in Congress, even among longtime friends.”

Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long, a Democrat, told the newspaper Crist hasn’t touched base with her since he left for Washington.

“I can only compare the two, and right after David Jolly was elected he was calling my office and asking for a meeting and wanting to work together,” she said. “We built a very tight relationship. I’m hoping we can build the same kind of relationship with Charlie.”

Compare Crist to other members of Congress from the area. Democrat U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor frequently returns to Tampa and Hillsborough County to keep in touch with voters.

Republicans Gus Bilirakis (District 12) and Rep. Dennis Ross (District 15) do the same.

Bilirakis, as was widely reported, held a second “listening session” Saturday with Pasco County voters who forcefully oppose his plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It was the second such meeting Bilirakis has had on that issue with constituents in his district. Give the man credit for showing up.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is another politician who never forgets to keep in touch with the home folks. And we all remember how the late U.S. Rep. Bill Young was an unrelenting champion for Pinellas County.

But where is Charlie?

If this trend continues, it likely will embolden Republicans to find a serious challenger to go after his seat in 2018. It might even inspire a primary challenge from Crist’s own party — assuming he still is a Democrat by then (you never know).

Or, we have to note, people may start to wonder if Crist will lose interest in his current job the way he did as governor and state attorney general and not run for re-election at all.

He could squash all that by just being good ol’ likable Charlie. People will be waiting.

At heated town hall, Gus Bilirakis once again hears overwhelming sentiment to improve — not repeal — the Affordable Care Act

For the second consecutive Saturday, Tampa Bay U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis waded into a lion’s den of sorts, hosting a town-hall meeting that was dominated by those pleading with him to vote to improve — but not replace — the Affordable Care Act.

As hundreds crammed into the West Pasco Government Center in New Port Richey (with at least another hundred listening to the meeting via an audio transmission outside the chambers), the atmosphere was at times raucous and rude, although the audience was overwhelmingly dominated by Democrats and supporters of the health care law.

It’s a scene that’s playing out throughout the country, as Republicans are being met with fervent Democratic activism, a level at which has not been seen in decades. The energy has been compared to the Tea Party rebellion that flared up during the town hall meetings that Democrats held eight years ago when rolling out the ACA, with one of the most infamous being a Kathy Castor town hall in Ybor City that made national headlines.

Bilirakis is on record as voting to repeal the Affordable Act Act, but he expressed sympathy with those who are worried about the uncertainty of what comes next, now that the Republicans control all branches of the federal government and are charging full ahead of doing something different with the health care system.

“We do have some bills that are filed. However, the replacement bill has not been filed,” the Tarpon Springs Republican admitted in his opening remarks to the crowd. “There is a blueprint. But that’s why were here to add to that blueprint, and that’s why I want to hear your personal stories — how Obamacare has affected you.”

But using the “O” word was a mistake to many of the Democrats in the room, who began shouting at him.

“Okay, excuse me, the ACA,” he corrected himself, while noting that Nancy Pelosi (and Barack Obama himself) has referred to the 2010 law as Obamacare.

Bill Akins, the secretary of the Pasco County Republican Executive Committee further inflamed the crowd when he brought up one of the issues that ignited Tea Party activists at town hall meetings back in 2009 — the famed “death panels.”

“There is a provision in there, that anyone over the age of 74, has to go before, what is effectively, a death panel-“

As soon as Akins finished pronouncing “panel,” the crowd erupted into arguably the loudest amount of jeering from the two-hour meeting.

“OK, children. Alright, children,” Akins stated, mocking the crowd (The segment was shown throughout the day on CNN).

A few moments later, 77-year-old Pat Seeley told Akins he was full of it.

“I think it is unconscionable for this politician to tell me at 74, I will be facing death panels.”

It should be noted that PolitiFact judged the death panels argument as the “Lie of the Year” in 2009.

Immediately following Akins to the mic was Beverly Ledbetter, the secretary for the Pasco County Democratic Executive Committee. She thanked Bilirakis for “having the courage” to host a town hall, which “so many of your compatriots are cancelling.” But she said it wasn’t enough for the six-term congressman to listen to his constituents. No, she said, it was incumbent on him to act on what the voters were saying.

“I’m asking that you make a commitment to us and you act the way that we, the people who elected you and sent you to Washington D.C. to be our voice, and to vote according to the directions that we have, and not the line of the Republican Party,” Ledbetter said.

Although there were plenty of speakers who sang the praises of Obama’s signature domestic achievement, there were several others who acknowledged that improvements were essential to improving the ACA, though the underlying message to Bilirakis was not to dismantle it without something similar in scope.

Like President Trump and many other Republicans, Bilirakis said he wants to retain the bill’s most popular provisions: no more discriminating against pre-existing conditions; no more lifetime caps; and keeping people under 26 years of age on their parent’s policy.

The chief nemesis called out by the ACA supporters at the meeting wasn’t Republicans, but the health care industry, followed by the pharmaceutical industry.

Sitting in a wheelchair, Ellen Floriani said that she was hit with a hospital bill of $98,000, but because of Medicare, it was negotiated down to $6,000, with her copay only $1,000. “Those of you under 65, don’t you wish you had that kind of coverage?” she asked, adding that everybody could get that type of coverage if a Medicare-for-all (i.e., single payer) system was implemented, a sentiment several other people suggested as well.

It wasn’t all nastiness. One speaker said Congress should look at adding an excise tax on marijuana purchases. “There’s a lot of states now selling marijuana for recreational use, and this is an excise tax to plug the hole and subsidize the deductibles that people have.”

The crowd wasn’t devoid of Republicans who proudly said they supported Donald Trump for president.

“My request to you is to rip the Obamacare bill, the way it is now, to shreds,” asked Pete Franco to Bilirakis. “There’s plenty of people obviously who like Obamacare, but there’s a massive amount who don’t.”

“Alternative news,” yelled an ACA fan from the back.

And so it went. Bilirakis promised to hold a third town hall meeting soon, at a place to be determined.

While he was earning plaudits from even his sternest critics for facing the heat on the issue, countless Democrats managed to sneak in a diss to another prominent Florida Republican not in attendance.

“Where’s Marco?” was a refrain heard throughout the morning. Democrats contend Senator Marco Rubio has been AWOL in even having staffers answer calls in his Washington or local district offices over the past couple of weeks.

Charlie Crist names Gershom Faulkner as Outreach Director

Congressman Charlie Crist has hired Gershom Faulkner as Outreach Director, to serve as the St. Petersburg Democrat’s liaison throughout Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

“Gershom is a great addition to our team,” Crist said Friday. “His dedication to service is unwavering – as a Marine defending our country, and through positions with former Rep. Frank Peterman and Congresswoman Kathy Castor. As a veteran, small-business owner and community leader, Gershom is uniquely qualified to serve as Outreach Director and we are excited to have him come on board.”

After graduating from high school in St. Petersburg, Faulkner joined the Marines where he served honorably during the Gulf War, receiving several commendations. After four years of active duty, he returned to St. Petersburg and began his service to the community, working with Frank Peterman, Jr. during his tenure as both a city councilman and state representative.

Before mounting a run for city council, Faulkner worked on several local and statewide campaigns, including Betty Castor‘s 2004 senatorial campaign and Kathy Castor‘s successful 2006 congressional campaign, afterward joining her office as Outreach Director.

During the 2016 cycle, Faulkner volunteered on the Crist for Congress campaign.

Faulkner expressed his thanks to Crist in a statement:

“I am pleased and honored to accept Congressman Charlie Crist’s offer to become our Representative’s Outreach Director. This is a position I did not seek but am honored to accept since I have a passionate desire to serve the community and have a firm faith in Congressman Crist’s ability to represent all people in our community in Washington.

“As President Obama evolved on the issue of gay marriage and LGBTQ issues, so too have I evolved. Like Congressman Crist, I am a strong advocate for equal rights and equal protection under the law for the LGBTQ community. I understand that in this ever-changing world, it is imperative to have a representative who is sensitive to the needs of everyone, not just the few or the privileged.

“Regardless of a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or gender identification, I will work collaboratively with the community as a member of the Congressman’s staff to ensure that every voice is heard and that the needs of all the people are always my first priority.

“I am a veteran of the Gulf War who served in the United States Marine Corps. I was honorably discharged as a Sergeant. After leaving military service, I served as a legislative aide to former State Representative Frank Peterman Jr., and Outreach Director to Congresswoman Kathy Castor, I truly believe that my knowledge of how government works and my strong relationships within the district, will serve Congressman Crist well as his Outreach Director.

“The challenges facing African-Americans, the LGBTQ community, Hispanics, refugees, labor unions and women’s rights, are ALL issues that I stand ready to tackle – relaying solutions to the Congressman as articulated by his constituents.

“I am honored and excited to begin this new chapter of service to my community and my country. I will do everything in my power to live up to the trust placed in me by Congressman Crist. I am looking forward to helping citizens find solutions to their issues and restore the notion that government is an instrument of good for all people.”

Faulkner currently serves on St. Petersburg’s Civil Service Board and previously sat on the Southside St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) ad hoc Planning Committee. He is also President-elect of the St. Petersburg Midtown Rotary Club and serves on the board of the Neighborly Care Network.

Chloe Coney stepping away from district director job in Kathy Castor’s office

Chloe Coney, the “women who wears many hats” and the only district director to have served Tampa Bay area Congresswoman Kathy Castor since she was elected a decade ago, is retiring.

“Chloe’s passion and expertise have served our neighbors, families and businesses well,” Castor said in a statement released Wednesday. “She is revered by Tampa’s community for her lifetime of service and my congressional district has been fortunate to have her as district director. Moreover, it has been my honor to call her my friend.”

Coney founded and was the president of the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa in 1992. The agency was create to raise the  the economic, educational and social levels for residents in East Tampa. It’s currently run by her son, Ernest.

She started her career in law enforcement as the first black female Probation and Parole Officer with the Florida Department of Corrections in 1972. She then went on to became an intake counselor/mediator with the 13th Judicial Circuit Court of Hillsborough County and marketing representative for Florida Power, Inc. in Clearwater. She then went on to become the center manager of the Lee Davis Neighborhood Service Center.

Coney did have one try at elected office, where she lost in the Democratic primary for the County Commission District 3 race to Kevin White in 2006. That was the same year that Castor was elected to Congress, and she hired Coney shortly after taking office.

Castor said Coney was a tremendous asset in helping coordinating activities as the Great Recession rocked her district.

“With Chloe by my side, we held seven foreclosure prevention workshops, several job fairs and other district events to reach thousands in our district and help lift them as well as our businesses into economic recovery,” Castor says.

With Coney’s departure comes a general shakeup inside Castor’s district office in Tampa.

Communications director Marcia Mejia will replace Coney as district director. Steven Angotti, who has served as grants coordinator and press assistant will now assume the role of press secretary and continue to reach out to individuals and organizations with grant opportunities.  Dewayne Mallory, a U.S. Army veteran who has worked as legislative aide for several state legislators representing Tampa Bay, will serve as Castor’s outreach director.

Kathy Castor is right calling ‘extreme vetting’ order immoral, un-American

It might be easy to dismiss the harsh comments by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa regarding President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order that called for “extreme vetting” of potential refugees from seven Muslim nations.

As Mitch Perry reported Sunday on SaintPetersBlog, Castor said, “President Trump’s executive order targeting and banning legal permanent residents and refugees from war-torn areas is illegal, immoral and un-American.  It has made us less safe.  If the president wants to empower jihadists, this is the way to do it.”

I would expect nothing less from Castor. She is reliably liberal. She is from the opposition party, and Trump’s action is right in the Democrats’ you-were-warned wheelhouse. And she was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton.

There is something else to keep in mind, though. In my dealings with Castor, I have found her concern for all people to be genuine and deep. She also is extremely smart and usually says exactly what she believes.

I don’t think she was just trying to make political hay here. I think she was trying to make an important point before this deeply divided nation drives off the edge of the cliff and careens into the abyss.

Did I say divided?

For all the notoriety about President Trump’s Twitter habits, his Facebook page is what raised my eyebrows Monday morning.

His statement explaining the executive order had more than 574,000 reactions – most of which appeared to be positive. The statement also had been shared with other Facebook users more than 213,000 times. And he is doing exactly what he promised to do if elected. More than a few people have said they find that refreshing.

There appeared to be thousands of comments under the statement – I didn’t have time to count them all – and most of them (but not all) were supportive of the president.

One reader noted, “If you’re saying you’re doing this to keep America safe, and now you’re saying you’re doing the same thing President Obama did (in 2011, when he restricted visas for refugees from Iraq), then why did you waste all your time during your campaign saying Obama did nothing to keep America safe?

“And if he’s doing the same thing Obama did, then why are his supporters praising him now but trashed Obama during his entire presidency?”

C’mon, we know the answer to that.

President Trump is playing politics.

The reality of his administration is matching his campaign rhetoric, and it puts Florida (of course) in the middle of the maelstrom. Perhaps inspired by Trump’s jingoistic rants, Gov. Rick Scott last week promised economic reprisals against Florida ports that do business with Cuba.

Part of his reasoning: security.

That seems to be a catch-all word when politicians want to pander to jittery voters. Republicans have demanded tighter border security for years and now they will have it. But at what cost?

Go back to what Castor said about this being “immoral.”

President Trump said Christian refugees would get priority for admission to the U.S. I’m no constitutional scholar, but that sounds dangerously like establishing Christianity as the national religion – something expressly forbidden by the First Amendment. And if we turn our backs on refugees driven from their land by war, that’s not exactly the Christian response.

Our enemies will use that as propaganda, so Castor is right that it will empower jihadists. Our friends will think Ronald Reagan’s shining city on a hill has turned dark and foreboding.

Castor is right when she says that is un-American. This is not who we are. If we’re not careful, though, that’s who we’re going to be.

 

Kathy Castor calls Donald Trump order on refugees ‘illegal, immoral and un-American’

Democrats across Florida are blastinPresident Donald Trump‘s executive order, which suspends for 120 days the entry of all refugees from certain Muslim countries to the United States.

The order, signed Friday, bands Syrian refugees indefinitely, and for 90 days, it blocks entry into the U.S. for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Among those speaking out is Kathy Castor of Tampa.

“President Trump’s executive order targeting and banning legal permanent residents and refugees from war-torn areas is illegal, immoral and un-American.  It has made us less safe.  If the president wants to empower jihadists, this is the way to do it,” Castor said Sunday.

Castor said she is in contact with local refugee assistance agencies to monitor circumstances of families who may have been in transit when Trump signed his executive order late Friday afternoon. She vows to “do everything possible to ensure America continues to provide safe haven to victims of torture and persecution as our country has done since its founding.”

Castor called Trump’s temporary ban “outrageous,” adding that banning Muslims, Iraqis and others who have assisted the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan will empower the terrorists.

“Facts matter,” she said. “Trump is taking our country down a dangerous path based on disinformation and discrimination.”

Meanwhile, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has also taken exception to the timing of Trump’s executive order, coming on the same day the administration sent out a statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day without mentioning Jews or antisemitism.

The South Florida Democrat called that omission “insensitive, disappointing and trampled on the memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazi’s during the Holocaust.”

“As a representative of tens of thousands of immigrants, I will stand with my immigrant and non-immigrant constituents and fight this unconstitutional and immoral policy with every ounce of energy I have,” Wasserman Schultz said of the temporary ban. “As the granddaughter of immigrants who fled persecution in Eastern Europe, I will not allow history to repeat itself by barring people fleeing for their lives and watch them perish because America turned our backs.

“Never Again means something to me even when it clearly means nothing to President Trump and his administration.”

Boca Raton Representative Ted Deutch asked Saturday in a tweet if any Republican would object to the temporary ban.

On Sunday, a handful of Republicans, including John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, criticized the proposal.

After leaving Charlie Crist for David Jolly, Vito Sheeley says “I’m still a Democrat”

Vito Sheeley says that despite his decision to now work for former Republican Congressman David Jolly, he remains a Democrat.

In one of the more enigmatic personnel developments in Tampa Bay area politics recently, Sheeley announced Monday that he was leaving the office of Charlie Crist,  to now work for Jolly as a senior adviser.

Crist defeated Jolly in Pinellas County’s 13th Congressional District race last fall.

The move came just days after reports that Sheeley was going to work for St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman‘s office, along with (unreported) rumors Crist had jettisoned Sheeley early last week, and rehired him by week’s end.

In a just-released statement, Sheeley says: “Many have and will continue to question my reason for leaving Congressman Crist. That is an answer that will remain between Charlie Crist and me.”

He then says service to his community “outweighs any political party or title.”

A St. Pete native, Sheeley worked as an outreach coordinator for Tampa area Congresswoman Kathy Castor, whose district used to include parts of South St. Petersburg, before leaving in 2016 for Crist’s congressional campaign.

Sheeley says he will help Jolly continue policy work locally on education, veterans, urban affairs and other Pinellas priorities.

To some, the hiring decision remains perplexing, considering Jolly is no longer a sitting congressman, announcing Monday he has not made a decision about running again in 2018.

However, in hiring Sheeley, he has indeed invited speculation that he intends to run next year.

Sheeley’s statement in full, entitled “I’m Still a Democrat,” is below:

Public service is a part of my DNA. My mother was a social worker, my grandmother was an educator, and my grandfather a pastor. I was raised to believe that serving my community and country is the most important calling one can have. I still believe that today. I have worked in public service as Outreach Coordinator for Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Outreach Director for Charlie Crist’s Congressional Campaign 2016 and, until recently, Congressman Charlie Crist’s District Director.

My passion is to see that others have the same opportunities that I have been given.

Many have and will continue to question my reason for leaving Congressman Crist. That is an answer that will remain between Charlie Crist and me. My service to my community outweighs any political party or title. You see, for me, I don’t see Democrat or Republican, I see people. I see children not receiving a quality education, I see poverty, I see families searching for job security and a better way to provide. I recognize the injustice within our Justice System, I’m appalled at witnessing our voting rights being stripped away to benefit those in power or those who would like to remain in power. These reasons and more are the reason why I fight for a solution. I will be working with David Jolly to continue policy work locally regarding education, veterans, urban affairs and other Pinellas priorities.

I respect David Jolly. I respect his service to his community and country. We both share a common belief, we love this community.

David Jolly respects my Democratic views, and together I believe we can bring balance to our divided country. In these days and times, we as a nation have forgotten what is important. What is important is “Treating others as one would wish to be treated;” this is the Golden Rule. As I continue this journey, I will fight for what I believe is important. That is “You,” the people … of Pinellas County, Democrat or Republican, your voice matters.

We face serious issues together we can overcome.

I would like to thank everyone who supported me in this past week. Your overwhelming encouragement has meant a lot to my family and I.

David Jolly hires Charlie Crist staffer Vito Sheeley as ‘senior adviser’

David Jolly says that he has not made a decision whether to run for his former congressional seat next year, but that’s the impression he has given by announcing on Monday that he has hired Vito Sheeley to serve as his “senior advisor for the 2018 political cycle.”

Sheeley has been working as district director for Charlie Crist, the man who defeated Jolly last November in the Congressional District 13 race. Sheeley also worked on Crist’s congressional campaign as his campaign outreach director.

“While I have made no decision whether to pursue elective office in 2018, I am committed to continuing our important policy work of the last three years,” Jolly said in a statement.  “As Laura and I consider what is best for our family and our community in 2018, I am thrilled to have Vito Sheeley join our political team. Through my years working with Vito in Pinellas, I know him to be an honorable man, dedicated to our community, and a trusted advisor on how best to represent and serve Pinellas County and the State of Florida.”

“I’m extremely excited to begin my new role with Congressman Jolly,” Sheeley said. “Helping the citizens of Pinellas County has been and will remain the most important priority of my life.  As Senior Advisor to Mr. Jolly, I look forward to continuing to listen to the needs and concerns of Pinellas County.  I thank Congressman Jolly for recognizing my value to him and his team.”

Max Goodman, a spokesman for Jolly, says that Sheeley will be working with Jolly  “to continue policy work locally regarding education, veterans, urban affairs and other Pinellas priorities.” He says he’ll be paid through non candidate committee funds.

The announcement caps a bizarre week in the news for Sheeley, who previously worked for Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor.

There were unconfirmed reports that Crist had fired Sheeley last week, and then rehired him back. FloridaPolitics called Sheeley on Friday to ask him about that report, which he flatly denied, saying that he was still working for Crist at the time.

He also said it was unclear whether he would go on to work for Mayor Rick Kriseman’s re-election campaign, as had been reported by the Tampa Bay Times last week.

“I only wish the best for Vito,” Crist told FloridaPolitics this afternoon. “He did a wonderful job on our campaign, for which I will ever be grateful. I hope for a very bright future for he and his family.”

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