Advertise in the WOW | My Account | Log In
New User Registration | Search | Contact Us

Westchase Mom and Businesswoman Launches Bid for State House

This November will see a historic number of women running for state and national office.

Among them is a mother of four who lives in The Bridges.

Heather Kenyon Stahl is running for the District 64 seat currently held by James Grant (Rep.). That seat represents Oldsmar, East Lake, Safety Harbor, Westchase, Odessa, Keystone, Cheval, Northdale, Citrus Park (north of Gunn Highway) and Carrollwood (west of Dale Mabry Highway). She’s running on the Democratic side.

“I am running because I have had it with the dysfunction in Tallahassee,” Stahl told WOW. “I want District 64 to be a place that lures companies with higher wage jobs. In order to do that, we have to improve transportation infrastructure, invest in our education system, and offer good healthcare to all our citizens.”

Stahl is an executive at Miller Heiman Group, which does sales training consulting. Prior to that she worked for Apple and the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, which she helped found. “I helped start it and helped grow it to one of the largest technology organizations in the Southeast and was its CEO for three years.”

Stahl added, “For the past decade, I have been leading the effort to bring more tech business to Tampa. As the former CEO of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, I was a tireless recruiter of start-ups, talent, and technology companies moving in the area.”

A graduate of University of Florida, Stahl moved with her family to Florida as a high schooler. “I was the first graduating class of East Lake High School,” she said.

She’s lived in Westchase 10 years. Her husband, Craig, and she share four children, Tyler, Sarah, Kristin, and Hunter. Tyler and Sarah have attended Westchase’s public schools.

“While raising four children, I have seen first-hand what is not working in our schools,” she said. “I am dedicated to preparing Florida's kids for a technology advanced marketplace upon graduation.”

More recently, the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left a sharp impression on Stahl. “Every single one of the mass shootings has a big impact on me, but Parkland particularly so,” she said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to get that phone call.”

Stahl attended the March 24 March for Life and credited Parkland students for keeping the issue on the front burner. “People are so upset about the NRA and how it’s coopted our legislative process. We were able to make some minor changes in the last legislative session but certainly not enough.”

If elected, Stahl said she’d work to adopt universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and support science-based gun studies that, until recently, federal law forbid the government from sponsoring or undertaking.  

“Our community deserves better,” said Stahl.

Barring another Democrat filing to run in the coming weeks, Stahl will face the winner of August’s Republican primary between incumbent James Grant and his opponent, Terry Power. Also in that race will be independent, Andy Warrener, a freelance journalist and carpenter and married father of two. Warrener, who has lived in District 64 most of his life, touts environmental protection, lower state corporate taxes, safer schools, restrictions on firearms, promoting solar energy, raising the state’s minimum wage to $10/hour, protecting home rule rights of counties and cities, and correcting what he calls the legislature's recent tilt toward private and charter schools.

On the Republican side, Power is running on a platform of lower taxes and smaller government. The founder and CEO of American Pension Services, Inc., Power has worked as an investment advisor and retirement plan wholesaler. Touting himself as a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and opponent to gun-free zones, Power also has called for reforms of family court laws, a position that stems, according to his website, from his own experience with divorce, and strict enforcement of Florida term limits, which he has accused Grant of sidestepping through loopholes. He touts his support for ensuring first responders have the tools and benefits they deserve and calls for safeguarding Florida’s beaches and natural resources. Charging Grant with corruption and personally benefitting from his House seat, Power has committed to donating his House salary, if elected, to local charities.

Grant, the son of former Florida Senator John Grant, is a lawyer and self-described small businessman. Unmarried, Grant touts himself as a pro-business, small government conservative.  While his website touts no specific policies or positions he supports, Grant prominently lists endorsements from the National Rifle Association (NRA), Florida Right to Life PAC, Tampa Builders Association, Associated Builders and Contractors and others. WOW invited Grant to offer his top three policy positions for the campaign and respond to Power’s charges, but he did not respond.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.