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By Tia Mitchell | Florida Times Union

Those who follow me on social media know that I interviewed Senate budget chairman Jack Latvala last week and it streamed on Facebook.

It was past time for me to sit down with the Clearwater Republican. In previous interviews with other legislators, I often found myself referencing Latvala’s independent spirit and sometimes grumpy demeanor. He has a strong presence around the Capitol, and his ability to influence the process is undeniable.

As I was packing up after the most recent interview, Latvala asked why the media is so interested in him. My reaction was, “Are you kidding me?”

Latvala is the rare politician who says exactly what is on his mind, even if he knows it will tick people off. When he is frustrated or annoyed or growing impatient — as he did when technical difficulties delayed the start of my interview — he doesn’t hide it.

That makes him unique and a great source. Most politicians are guarded when speaking to reporters, and it shows in how they speak about the issues.

Latvala may rub people the wrong way at times, but he tells it like it is. That is valuable currency for someone like me who is trying to reveal the process.