Senate District 39
This mostly Democratic district used to run as far north as Palm Beach County. Now the redrawn district includes all of Monroe County and parts of south Miami-Dade up to Miami International Airport, and Hendry and Collier counties. The district served as a “minority access” seat, with either Larcenia Bullard or her husband Edward Bullard elected since 1992. The interests of Keys’ residents have been elevated by the demographics of the new Senate district.
The Bullards’ son, Rep. Dwight Bullard, 35, has jumped into this Senate race, along with former state Rep. James Bush III, 57, and House Minority Leader Ron Saunders, 57. Two other little-known candidates also are running.
Voters have two strong choices. Mr. Bullard, a school teacher, has been a passionate advocate of revamping the FCAT. But Mr. Saunders’ years of experience in Tallahassee, both now and back in the 1980s and early ’90s when Democrats were the majority in the House, give him the edge.
Mr. Saunders, who returned to the House in 2006, would be well-suited for the more collegial Senate. As a former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, he knows how to balance the budget and find money for key economic development projects that need state investments. He’s proven to be a successful leader on protecting the Everglades, fighting for more money for cash-strapped classrooms and crucial wastewater projects that protect the bay and other waterways.
For Senate District 39, in the Democratic primary, The Herald recommends RON SAUNDERS.
House District 100
Rep. Joe Gibbons, 63, currently representing District 105, is running in this new district, which includes a good part of Miami Beach. Sheldon Lisbon, 66, who served briefly as a Surfside commissioner before resigning to make this race, wants to serve in Tallahassee. The race is listed as a “universal primary,” making it open to all voters, although both candidates are Democrats.
Mr. Lisbon has lived in the district for six years. He raised some eyebrows with a blunt email to Jewish voters, appealing to them to vote along religious and ethnic lines. Mr. Lisbon later apologized for saying the Anti Defamation League was “despicable” for criticizing his campaign’s approach to vote-getting.
He and Mr. Gibbons share similar views on a number of issues, including inadequate funding for education, closing corporate tax loopholes and support for the healthcare law.
We give the nod to Mr. Gibbons on the basis of his experience and ability as a legislator and his broad community activism, including as board member of the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center. He serves as minority leader pro tem in Tallahassee. Among his bills that have become law: One designed to stop the practice of leaving children locked in cars and another requiring background investigations of Little League coaches.
For House District 100, The Herald recommends JOSEPH “JOE” GIBBONS.
House District 102
Sharon Pritchett knows the issues of the district she seeks to represent, which goes from North Miami-Dade County, including Miami Gardens, into Pembroke Pines and Miramar in Broward. As important, she has a definite grasp of the statewide issues with which she will have to deal in the Legislature. This puts her far ahead of her opponent in this race, Melvin Lewis Bratton.
Mr. Bratton, 65, a former Miami Gardens councilman, answered nine questions on the Editorial Board’s candidate questionnaire: “Need to study this item.” The unanswered questions ranged from growth management to the windstorm-insurance crisis to restructuring Medicaid to property-tax reform. Not impressive.
Ms. Pritchett, 60, also is a former member of the Miami Gardens City Council and she has done her homework. She says that the state needs more accurate risk modeling to better spread the risk of windstorm. Just what homeowners in a district heavy on residential neighborhoods should want to hear. She believes that Medicaid must focus on preventive care. Closer to home, she says that public education still falls short in meeting the needs of too many in the district. And that jobs — or the lack of them — are Issue No. 1.
Ms. Pritchett really has her finger on the pulse of the people who would be her constituents. Therefore, for House District 102, The Herald recommends SHARON PRITCHETT.