The 2010 political season started early in the Heartland when Ben Albritton announced he’s running for state representative in District 66, which includes all of Hardee County, plus a portion of northwest Sebring, Avon Park and south-central Polk County.
Two Winter Haven men have joined the race as well: chiropractor Gary Newberry, and Leviticus Reed, who ran last year for the Winter Haven Canal Commission.
Newberry told a Polk newspaper that schools, health care, property taxes and insurance rates fair are the major issues in the state. “It never changes,” he said. “There’s always going to be these issues.”
Albritton loves public service, and promotes the Florida Citrus Commission, which he serves as the district 2 commissioner; this year, he’s the chairman.
“I get the greatest pleasure out of serving,” Albritton said. “I love to do it. That’s how I get more out of life.”
District 66 is currently represented by Baxter Troutman, who is limited to four terms in office. Troutman and Albritton are friends, and it was Troutman who first suggested Albritton could replace him.
“The actual thought emerged from a conversation he and I had four years ago,” Albritton said. “He was down here at my office talking to my brother and me, and we asked, who’s thinking about running? Who’s going to fill this seat when you’re gone? And he smiled and looked at me, and said, ‘What about you?’”
Albritton said if he hadn’t been a fourth-generation citrus grower, he might have chosen the ministry. He teaches a life group – a church group of 12 to 15 people who meet at his house every Wednesday.
Family is more important to him than business: “I prioritize my life. It’s simply the only way to keep my head above water. Guard and protect your family. I’m married to the most amazing woman I ever met, Missy. God, family, and others,” said Albritton. “If any of those things get out of order in my life, I know it very quickly.”
Albritton and his wife have three children: Rebecca, 11; Joshua, 8; and Ryan, 4. They live in Wauchula.
The Albritton family started in Bowling Green, which Ben points out was the first home of the Strawberry Festival, before it moved to Plant City. Today, the family owns groves in Hardee and Manatee counties, and an insurance business.
Albritton has a degree in citrus and business from Florida Southern College in Lakeland.
His platform has three components which Albritton said are intertwined and inseparable: family values, education and business. “That is the core of our society,” Albritton said.
“Insurance is super-important in Florida, and it’s going to be a significant challenge in the future,” he said. “The greenbelt exemption going to have be protected with life and limb.”
He also wants to reduce the number of divorces. He cited research from Strong Marriages Florida, which says fragmented families cost the taxpayers $1.9 billion per year.
Albritton would not disclose how much money he has raised, except to say the amount is significant. The first filing deadline for financial statements is June 30.