In her almost 40 years of public service, Sen. Gwen Margolis, 78, has championed any number of good causes, from sponsoring and campaigning for Sunshine laws in the state Constitution to advocating for improved public education and seeking more funding for public schools and higher education.
A Realtor with a firsthand understanding of the crisis in the housing market, she was first elected to the Legislature in 1974 as a Democrat and has since served in the state Senate — as president from 1990 to 1992 and on the Miami-Dade County Commission, where she served as chair for six years. She was reelected to the Senate in 2010 after a failed run for county appraiser two years before.
In a joint appearance before the Editorial Board, Ms. Margolis’ challenger, Republican John Daniel Couriel, congratulated her for years of “sterling service” but added: “Every good thing comes to an end.”
We agree. She says she brings experience to the job, but Mr. Couriel, 34, counters with “energy and vigor” and says he’s not afraid to call himself a moderate who harbors “no philosophical opposition” to increasing revenue when necessary.
In a district that contains more registered Democrats than Republicans, maintaining a credibly moderate position is crucial to getting elected.
Sen. Margolis was especially critical of Gov. Scott’s decision to cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of higher education. She called it a tragedy. Mr. Couriel said he was willing to consider taxing Internet sales to raise more revenue for education and other needs, but he stopped short of committing to it.
Sen. Margolis was equally critical of Gov. Scott for refusing to take part in the expanded Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act — “outrageous,” she said. Mr. Couriel was not as outspoken, but said Florida should have a “Plan B” to avoid having more vulnerable citizens going without healthcare. He also disagreed with Gov. Scott’s failure to establish health insurance exchanges when the new law kicks in next year. “We should be setting up those exchanges right now.”
Mr. Couriel is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, a native of Miami and served for three years as a federal prosecutor here before leaving to make this race. The Editorial Board has recommended Sen. Margolis over the years because of her commendable record of service, but this year, in the race for District 35, The Miami Herald recommends JOHN DANIEL COURIEL.