House District 114
State Rep. Erik Fresen is seeking a third term in this redrawn narrow district that runs south of Miami International Airport to Cutler Bay, covering parts of Palmetto Bay and Pinecrest and a section of central unincorporated Miami-Dade County.
His challenger is Amory Bodin, 54, a former website consultant and accountant who says he entered the race because he believes Mr. Fresen, a land-use consultant, has too many ethical entanglements. However, an ethics complaint filed against Mr. Fresen for voting on a charter reform bill when his sister and brother-in-law work for a charter management company was thrown out by the state Commission on Ethics. It found there was no conflict because the legislation did not apply directly to Mr. Fresen’s family members. And legal entanglements on his home, the legislator explains, are being worked out in court involving property taxes that he paid upon closing on the home but that a closing agent apparently never sent to the tax collector.
In any case, Mr. Fresen, 37, has done a good job of watching out for Miami-Dade County’s interests in Tallahassee during difficult economic times. Legislation he filed to try to come up with a comprehensive gaming policy for Florida — including a limited number of casino resorts statewide in exchange for cutting back on other gaming — seems to be behind much of the discontent among his detractors. Mr. Fresen says he is not for expanding gambling but in favor of a policy that reins in abuses from Indian casinos that do not pay taxes. “It was a mistake to sell a gambling monopoly to a sovereign nation,” he says of the state’s deal with the Seminole Tribe.
For State House District 114, in the Republican primary, The Herald recommends ERIK FRESEN.
House District 115
Michael Bileca, 42, serving his first term as the incumbent in District 117, is being challenged in this redrawn south-central district by first-time candidate Eugenio Perez, 49, a high school teacher.
Mr. Bileca is known as a strong backer of charter schools and a proponent of the “parent trigger” bill, a favorite of the school-choice lobby that, critics fear, would make it easier to convert low-performing schools into charter schools. Mr. Perez disagrees, saying he feels such moves would weaken the public school system.
They also disagree over Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to withhold Florida’s participation in the expanded Medicaid program. Mr. Bileca supports the move because expansion is too costly. Mr. Perez believes coverage must be offered to those who can’t get it any other way.
The parent trigger bill went too far, but Mr. Bileca, an accountant, is well regarded in the House as an effective advocate and as a strong conservative. He deserves a second term.
For State Representative, District 115, The Herald recommends MICHAEL BILECA.
House District 116
This race in this redrawn South Miami-Dade County district pits two strong incumbents against each other: Jose Felix Diaz, 32, and Ana Rivas Logan, 51. Unfortunately, so-called electioneering communication organizations (ECO) are running nasty ads against each.
Ms. Rivas Logan, a former member of the Miami-Dade School Board, points to mailers and robocalls that question her roots because she was born in Nicaragua of Cuban
parents — a divisive tactic that is hurtful to the district’s Nicaraguan-American residents — and make it seem as if she voted for billions of dollars in new taxes. Mr. Diaz says he is not responsible for what these groups do, as they are independent of his campaign and that other such groups have sent mailers about his record that aren’t true.
This race has been a disappointment for those who know and respect both candidates, and it seems that the gambling issue is once again behind much of the division. Ms. Rivas Logan says she favors letting voters decide on casino resorts — a move that key Central Florida legislators beholden to Walt Disney World’s tourism empire will not tolerate.
We believe that all things being equal, without the divisive ECO campaigns, Ms. Rivas Logan deserves Republican voters’ support. A public school administrator, she knows education issues well from the classroom to the policy-making board. She does not play Tallahassee politics, voting for her constituents’ interests — even if it means bucking the Republican leadership’s positions, as she did when she voted No on a proposal to increase Citizens’ insurance rates.
In the Republican primary for State House District 116, The Herald recommends ANA RIVAS LOGAN.