“These [foster] kids can see through people — you can’t fool them,” said Christina Spudeas, executive director of Florida’s Children First, which oversees the youth advocacy group Florida Youth Shine. “When they speak with Sen. Detert, they know she cares.
“She has a passion for these kids,” Spudeas said, “and she has a great understanding of what they’ve gone through.”
Department of Children & Families Secretary David Wilkins said Detert “focuses on what is right,” a “unique skill” he calls refreshing. “Some of the young whippersnappers haven’t figured it out yet.”
Some people underestimate her influence, said Joe Gruters, chairman of Sarasota County’s Republican Party, but constituents “are lucky to have her.”
Negron, a Republican from Stuart, calls Sarasota’s rowing center “a perfect example of a legislator who knows her community inside and out. She made a persuasive case on how that facility is an important economic engine in Sarasota.” The project — and $5 million in state funding — made it into the final state budget signed into law by Scott.
Also close to her heart is the Loveland Center for developmentally disabled adults in Venice, though this year, instead of asking for funding, the center will apply for money from a settlement won by Attorney General Pam Bondi.
“She watches Loveland funding like a hawk,” said Negron, who happened to be the sole dissenting vote against Detert’s texting-while-driving bill because he thinks it’s impossible to enforce. But, “on a personal level I was happy for her that it passed.
“You can disagree with Sen. Detert,” Negron said, “and still emerge from the debate as colleagues.”