BROOKSVILLE - Democrat David Welch said he will take to the steps of the Brooksville courthouse on Monday to announce his run for the Florida House of Representatives, District 35.
Welch's opponent will be Republican Blaise Ingoglia, chairman of the Hernando County Republican Executive Committee and vice chair of the Florida Republican Party.
Welch has served on several local boards, including the Friends of the Weeki Wachee State Park, the Hernando Symphony Orchestra, the Anti-Drug Coalition and is the president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Hernando.
Welch said he was a Republican until June and probably would have run as a Republican in the race. But when Ingoglia announced his candidacy in May, he said he decided against it because he knew his opponent would get all the backing of the Republican Party.
"I knew all the money would line up behind him," Welch said.
Welch said County Commissioner Diane Rowden, a Democrat, approached him about changing parties.
Welch said he has always been an independent thinker and a moderate in political outlook and agrees with 95 percent of the Democratic platform.
Welch said he agrees with Ingoglia that the area needs jobs. But Welch said he wants to bring in quality, high-paying jobs.
Hernando County cannot survive on low-paying McDonald's-type jobs, he said.
He favors a partnership with the school district and Pasco-Hernando Community College to train the labor force.
"I think we need to get technical training going in our schools," Welch said.
Welch said he supports President Obama's Affordable Care Act, which he believes will bring needed health reforms.
In 2011-12, Welch volunteered as the regional director for the Florida Association for Insurance Reform, which he said successfully fought Citizens Insurance rate increases.
In 2013, he said he helped organize the county's mental health alliance to raise awareness of the need for such services in the community.
Welch said he expects this race to be messy but will strive to run a clean campaign.
"It should be spirited," he joked.
Welch, 48, is married, has six children and five grandchildren. He lives in Weeki Wachee but would have to move to Spring Hill if elected next year.
Welch said he intends to travel to Tallahassee on Friday morning to officially qualify.
Because of term limits, Republican Robert Schenck must step down next year. District 35 encompasses most of Hernando County.
Ingoglia said in a prepared statement he looks forward to continuing to meet with voters in the district, "listening to their concerns and discussing our shared vision for Hernando County's and Florida's future.
"I believe our community's future is bright and I look forward to joining shoulder to shoulder with the residents throughout our community, from all walks of life, as, together, we work tirelessly to build an even better future for our families, our children and for future generations," Ingoglia wrote.