HOUSE DISTRICT 117
This race with no incumbent has drawn three candidates, giving voters a chance to send a fresh voice to Tallahassee. The district reaches from south-central Miami-Dade into Homestead and Florida City, but no longer contains Palmetto Bay or Cutler Bay.
Kionne McGhee, 34, a former prosecutor, previously ran against Rep. Dwight Bullard, who is seeking to move up to the state Senate this year. The other two candidates are making their first run for political office: Carmen Morris, 53, a public relations and political consultant; and Harold Ford, 46, assistant principal at Homestead Middle School.
All three share a generally similar outlook on mainstream Democratic Party issues. They believe Gov. Rick Scott made a bad call by refusing to join the federal Medicaid expansion, they are critical of the FCAT and believe education deserves more funding, and they feel the state is not doing enough to manage its resources, including water, energy and roads.
Ms. Morris has the edge due to her long involvement in a variety of activities in and out of the district: the PTA, the local chamber of commerce and Planned Parenthood. She has a strong grasp of the issues, particularly education, the lack of services and unregulated development.
For House District 117, Democratic primary, The Herald recommends CARMEN MORRIS.
HOUSE DISTRICT 119
Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, 40, the incumbent in District 112, is seeking a second term in this new, compact, southwest Miami-Dade district located west of the turnpike and south of Tamiami Trail. Opponent Libby Perez, 47, a small business owner, is making her second run for office following a close loss in a race for the county school board in 2010.
Ms. Perez, a former vice president of the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations, says she is not a “typical” Republican. She believes the state has shortchanged education, performed a “disservice” to the public by failing to approve a reform of assisted-living facilities and has suffered damage from “the wrong kind of development.” She favors a dedicated revenue stream for school funding and says reform of windstorm insurance is a priority because consumers are “choking” on their high bills.
Ms. Nuñez has been a reliable vote for issues important to the House GOP leadership. She is particularly well-versed on healthcare issues as vice president of external affairs for Kendall Regional Medical Center and Aventura Hospital. She believes the Legislature should take a second look at Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to opt out of the Medicaid expansion.
She was a co-sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot this year providing a break for first-time homebuyers and emphasizes her close work with the Beacon Council to pass a bill attracting the “captive insurers” business for the state.
Her experience gives her the edge in this race. For House District 119, Republican primary, The Herald recommends JEANETTE NUNEZ.
HOUSE DISTRICT 120
Morgan McPherson and Holly Raschein, both Republicans, are vying for the chance to represent this district, which stretches from Key West up to and including the southern tip of Miami-Dade County. Some of the state’s most pressing issues all come to bear in this district — windstorm insurance, unemployment, water quality, the fragile environment, threats to agriculture and smart growth.
Mr. McPherson, 43, is a real-estate sale associate. He is a former mayor of Key West, serving two terms before losing in 2009. He has a decent handle on the issues, but professionally, has been very Key West-centric.
Ms. Raschein, 31, already has bridged the gap between this southernmost district and Tallahassee. She is a former legislative aide, and it speaks well of her abilities that she worked for two lawmakers on opposite sides of the aisle: Democrat Ron Saunders and conservative Republican Ken Sorenson.
Ms. Raschein knows her way around the Legislature, knows how the complex work gets accomplished, and this makes her the better candidate. She says that she is a fiscal conservative who “knows we cannot spend our way to prosperity.” However, she also notes that Florida must invest in its assets — human and environmental — if the state is to prosper.
For House District 120, The Herald recommends HOLLY RASCHEIN.