BARTOW — A second Republican has filed for the District 39 House seat left open by Neil Combee in November.

Jennifer Spath of Bartow filed papers Tuesday declaring her candidacy for the seat that covers portions of Polk and Osceola counties.

Spath, 34, will face Josie Tomkow, 22, of Polk City, in a primary election Feb. 20. Tomkow is expected to graduate from the University of Florida this month.

A general election has been scheduled for May 1.

The head of public affairs for a non-profit in Orlando that develops state policy related to foster children, Spath previously worked for several years at the State Attorney's Office in Bartow.

She said she hopes to continue her role as a public servant.

"There are so many people out there who feel like their voices aren't being heard," Spath said.

If elected, she said she plans to focus on lowering crime, the needs of foster children and improving education.

In the coming weeks she said she plans to speak with former Florida Teacher of the Year Christie Bassett about how education can be improved in Polk and Osceola counties.

Spath currently works at Community Based Care of Central Florida in Orlando. The non-profit develops policy related to foster children.

A former prosecutor for the State Attorney's Office, Spath worked in 50 trials during her time as an assistant state attorney.

Her cases ranged from domestic violence, battery and drug trafficking to DUI manslaughter and attempted murder.

Spath is the president of the Polk Association of Women Lawyers. She is a member of the Suburban Republican Women’s Club and the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, and she attended the Political Leadership Institute, according to a news release in which she begintouted her conservative credentials.

Pro-life, she said she is a member of the NRA opposed to sanctuary cities.

“Sanctuary cities pose a great threat to the safety and security of Floridians," she said in a press release. "It’s time for the legislature to step up and put a ban into effect."

Spath received her Juris Doctor from Stetson University College of Law, and a political science degree from the University of Florida.

She's married to Chris Spath, also a lawyer, and they have a daughter.

Combee, a Polk City Republican, announced his resignation in November. He begins his new job as state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency this week.

Combee is backing Tomkow in the upcoming election.

Spath said Tomkow doesn't have the experience she needs.

"In order to have perspective, you have to have gone through life's ups and downs," Spath said. "At 22, I'm not sure you have that life experience."

John Chambliss can be reached at john.chambliss@directgates.com or 863-802-7588.