It’s no secret that many working Americans are frustrated with politicians who seem to know little about what their constituents need to stay afloat. Now a pool industry professional has thrown his name into the ring as candidate for public office, intent on helping govern his state with insights gained in running his own firm.
“I’m not a lawyer,” said Larry Ahern, the owner/president of Larry Ahern Pool Remodeling Inc. in St. Petersburg, Fla. “I’m not really running to make laws. I am a Republican and a conservative and, as such, I’d like to see less government and regulation. In fact, I’d like to repeal some laws.”
Ahern is running for the Florida House of Representatives’ District 51, which includes South Pasadena, Semi-nole and parts of St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and Largo. A key area of the nation in the pool business, it has been struggling during the economic crisis. If elected, Ahern believes his pool industry background will positively shape his two-year term.
“As a businessman myself, I’ve seen what over-regulation has done,” he said. “Sometimes legislation affects entrepreneurs and they get blocked by all the bureaucracy. We don’t want to frustrate the men and women who are creating jobs. Ulti-mately, it will need to be the private sector that will get us out of the recession, not just government jobs.”
Though he’s never run for office, he has served on his local Nuisance Abatement Board as well as the Pinellas County swimming pool board. Ahern also volunteers his time with a variety of charitable organizations.
If things go his way in the Nov. 2 general election, Ahern plans to address certain fees that directly impact his pool-industry brethren, including recently hiked costs for license tags and driver license renewals.
“If you have a service company, for example, with a lot of trucks on the road, that is going to adversely affect your overhead and your livelihood,” he said.
He wants to reduce the state’s overhead by approaching its budget much in the same way he deals with his homeowner clientele.
“There are many contracts the government holds for services people provide it,” Ahern said. “If we can renegotiate those, I hope to reduce the contracts by 5 percent, just like we do in the pool business: line by line, looking at how the cuts will affect our product and our customer.”
In this case, his customers are the 94,000 voters in his district. Reaching them by personal grass-roots campaigning and with the aid of his wife and campaign manager, Maureen, has so far gone well.
“Sometimes a person answers the door and I remember doing work on their pool,” Ahern said. “The feedback from my customers has been positive. They really like the idea of a businessman going to the state house. ”