Michael Grant, 63, is the most experienced of three GOP candidates running for the Florida House of Representatives District 76 seat, which serves Boca Grande.
Grant, coming off two consecutive terms in the House, is known as a politician who knows how to pass a bill.
It was Grant who spearheaded the consumer-friendly state legislation that abolished expiration dates on gift cards, which spurred a national movement.
Michael Grant of Port Charlotte
"Frankly it was just wrong and I think (retailers) knew it," Grant said.
He also helped pass a hurricane recovery bill, over the initial objections of then-Gov. Jeb Bush, which gave added protection to homeowners whose residences had sustained severe damage.
"The government should not be benefitting by somebody's disaster," Grant said.
Michael Grant at a glance
Birth date: July 15, 1949
Occupation: Ambitrans president. Started 24 years ago with seven employees; now have 125
Legislative: Elected to the House in 2004, re-elected 2008
Family: married 35 years with one daughter and two sons
Religious affiliation: Catholic
Education: bachelor's degree in political science from University of Massachusetts, Amherst; master's degree from Suffolk University, Boston
Came to Florida: In 1988 when I bought the business with two young kids and pregnant wife
Residences: Port Charlotte, Palm Island
Hometown: Quincy, Mass.
Platform: Jobs and economic development.
Affiliations: American Ambulance Association, American Cancer Society, Charlotte Chapter, past Treasurer?Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, 2003 chairman Government Affairs Committee, Charlotte County Cultural Center Board of Trustees,? past President?Charlotte County Family YMCA, Edison Community College Foundation, 2003 Chairman?Enterprise Charlotte, Leadership Charlotte Class of 1988,? 1998-2004 Treasurer Florida Ambulance Association, and North Port,?Punta Gorda and Englewood-Cape Haze chambers of commerce
Hobbies: Campaigning. I truly like politics. Tennis, going to the gym twice a week and reading when not politicking.
Last in Boca Grande: About six weeks ago when Mote Marine came down for its Board of directors meeting
Here's his pitch for Boca Grande voters:
QUESTION: Why run?
ANSWER: For the same reasons I ran initially eight years ago. I see our communities and taxpayers making a big investment in students and education. As soon as they graduate from college they move from Southwest Florida because there are no jobs. For selfish reasons I want my grandchildren close by. I think it's important for the stability of the community and family life. You can only do that if there's economic opportunity here.
Q: What would you do first if elected?
A: My top priority is to get with the Speaker of the House and hopefully get re-appointed to the Economic Development Committee, which I served on four years as a member of the House, and the Judiciary Committee to make sure the legal environment is conducive to small business owners.
Q: When was the moment you knew you were going to run?
A: We announced 18 months ago in December 2010. I didn't realize redistricting would have such an impact on the seat.
Q: What sets you apart from your two rivals for this seat?
A: Other than my gray hair and experience? My experience in the Legislature goes a long way in giving me a heads-up on what happens in Tallahassee. Having signed the front of a paycheck for 24 years, and not just the back of it, does, too.
Q: What are the most pressing hardships facing your constituents?
A: I see the economy bottoming out. In talking to a lot of small business owners, they are seeing a little uptick in numbers. I see things gradually getting better. The unemployment numbers are still remarkably higher, much higher than they need to be or should be.
Q: What are some other top-of-mind issues?
A: There is less revenue for local government and state government. When you have less revenue, hard choices have to be made, including decreased spending on health care and public safety. There's more demand on government and less dollars to do it with.
Q: Who is your role model?
A: In the Legislature, it was Mike Davis, a state rep from Collier County. We met in 2004. Mike died three years later from cancer. He was my roommate in Tallahassee and had a real good head for politics and a sense of self. He's one of the people I admire most.
Q: What's your opinion of Gov. Rick Scott's performance?
A: He's doing a fairly good job. I knew it would be very difficult for him to make the transition from the private sector. You don't just get to tell people what to do in the Legislature. A lot of power resides in the House and Senate. You have to persuade people, you can't just tell them what you want. What impresses me is how hard he is working to call businesses from other states where taxes were rising. We have a great tax climate and work force. He'd tell them if not your factories, then move your headquarters here. I've never heard of a governor doing that.
Q: Presidential preference?
A: Gov. Mitt Romney of course. Has been for a long time. I'm originally from Massachusetts though never when he was a governor.
Q: Why should you lead?
A: My message of job creation and ability to get things done in Tallahassee. I got five of my six bills signed into law. I have not only the experience but also the capability to work with others to accomplish things.