One in a series of profiles on state representatives and senators leading to the opening of the legislative session Jan. 22
Dick Kravitz is the state representative for District 19. He was elected to the Florida House in 2000.
WHEN DID YOU ENTER POLITICS AND WHY?
“1986. I was vice president of the Mandarin Council of the Chamber and my friends there encouraged me to run. They thought my business experience would benefit the citizens. The thing that made me do it was the encouragement from people in the community. I didn’t have a burning desire to run. Maybe they saw leadership skills in me that would transfer over to politics.”
WILL HE RUN AGAIN?
Just finishing his first year in the House, Kravitz intends to run again next fall.
WHO WILL BE YOUR COMPETITION?
“I have no idea. It’s much too early to guess.”
WHAT’S YOUR BASIC PLATFORM?
“Less taxes, less government, more personal responsibility, individual freedoms, stronger families and improving education.”
WHAT’S YOUR PET PROJECT?
“I have been a victim’s rights advocate for 10 years. I believe in the protection of our kids in school. Before the bill passed, it seemed not enough was done by schools to keep violent offenders from coming back. Students would commit a crime and in a short time would be back harassing the victim. The bill I sponsored ensures a perpetrator would not come back to harass the victim again and tries to make schools a violence-free zone. Children shouldn’t have to worry that they’ll get beaten up or abused in any way at school.”
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST ISSUE THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION?
“After Sept. 11, the biggest issue is going to be the budget in terms of education and health care. Most state dollars are from sales tax. We lost a tremendous amount last year due to the slumping economy and Sept. 11 cutting into tourism. I hope that the economy can come back so we can restore our schools and areas in health care.”
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST ISSUE FACING THE LEGISLATURE?
“Probably education. We need to continue our efforts to make Florida premier in terms of education. In nursing home care, there are probably some homes that are unable to get insurance and some homes are not doing a good job of taking care of patients which forces the good nursing homes to pay higher premiums. We need to clean up that area, plus keep taxes down.”
DO YOU FIND IT DIFFICULT TO JUGGLE YOUR CAREER AND YOUR ROLE AS A LEGISLATOR?
“This year it was because we were in Tallahassee six months with last year’s ballot count and certifying electors. We had a regular session and then were called back twice because of Sept. 11. It was an unusual year. This year we have to start early because of reapportionment. The bad thing is it has taken up a lot more time. The good thing is we’ve probably gotten as much experience as someone in their fifth or sixth year instead of their second. We’ve gotten it all.”
DO YOU ENJOY BEING A POLITICIAN?
“Yes. I use the word legislator. I classify myself as a citizen legislator. It’s a part-time job. I am working a regular job and have the same problems as everyone else but I enjoy the chance to make a difference. I want to make a difference in the educational system. My wife is a teacher and I used to teach. I understand how schools work. I like to work to make things like education, victims’ rights and community issues better.”
WOULD YOU SUPPORT A PERSONAL STATE INCOME TAX TO AVOID FUTURE BUDGET CUTS?
“I am against it. I would never vote for that. We pay enough taxes now. The average person takes until June or July to pay taxes [for the year]. There is plenty of money to go around in government to take care of the state’s needs. It’s a matter of using ideas to prioritize spending in the public interest. We work for the government enough.”
DO YOU HAVE ASPIRATIONS FOR ANOTHER POLITICAL OFFICE?
“In these situations where you’re a citizen legislator, you have to weigh your job and family. Timing is critical. Now I’m enjoying what I’m doing but if the opportunity comes up, I’ll keep it in mind.”
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR LEISURE TIME?
Running or playing golf are what he does to keep in shape. Kravitz is an amateur history buff and enjoys reading non-fiction books, especially about business or sports.
In his hometown of Philadelphia, Kravitz taught junior high English and social studies. He currently works as an insurance agent/business consultant. His wife, Shirley Levin, is a teacher at Terry Parker High School. They have two sons. Hirsh, who is a senior at FSU studying crime and political science and aspires to be a lawyer, and Eric, a broadcaster for minor league baseball games.
He has a bachelor’s degree from Temple University and a master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio University.
OTHER PUBLIC SERVICE
• Served on the City Council from 1987-1999, acting as president in 1995.
• Active with Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council 1989-1999.
• Participant in the Duval County Republican Party Executive Committee.
• Part of the Duval County Tourism Development Council 1990-1999, serving as chairman in 1995.
As a result of speaking out against mass burning, Kravitz was awarded the Friend of the Environment Award by the Sierra Club in 1989. “When I was on the Jacksonville City Council I tried to incorporate environmental standards within the zoning code: landscaping improvement, things that protected the environment and I tried to make the projects nicer looking with low impact signage and more shrubbery. I was a big advocate of water conservation and preservation.”
Mandarin Athletic Association presented Kravitz with the Youth Service Award in 1998. He received a Historic Preservation Award by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission in 1998 and the Focus Award by Northeast Florida Planning and Zoning Association in 1994.
“I came here by way of Oklahoma City. I worked there under the current owners of the Jacksonville Suns in the 1970s and came here to be their general manager from 1973-1975. After that, I had an opportunity to go to a AAA team in Wichita. My wife was originally from Jacksonville and she wanted to come back. [Jake] Godbold was the mayor then and offered me a job as executive director of the Sports and Entertainment Division.” Kravitz also supervised a major league soccer team franchise sponsored by Lipton Tea in the early 1980s.
SOME OF HIS AFFILIATIONS
Currently, Kravitz is a board member of Southside Business Men’s Club and a member of the Mandarin Council of the Chamber.
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
“When we go on committee weeks, that we try to do it all in a day or two even if it means working nights. It gives us more time to serve the consistency. We weren’t here that much this year.”
— by Monica Chamness