All eyes turn to Florida’s gubernatorial debate

08/30/2014 7:00 PM

08/29/2014 8:04 PM

When it comes to election time, one state is almost certain to garner national attention.

Once again, Florida is thrust into the spotlight as our gubernatorial race plays out on a national stage. Floridians will cast their ballots to decide who will lead the fourth-largest state in the nation.

As president of the host location of the Oct. 15 debate between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, I join with the faculty, staff and students of Broward College in feeling the palpable, even electric, anticipation of this event.

The stage upon which the debate will sit is impressive. Southeast Florida — the combined area of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties — is the seventh-largest metropolitan statistical area in the nation. With a combined population of more than 5.5 million, it is home to just under 30 percent of all Floridians. An economic engine unto itself, the region competes on a global scale to bring home everything from academic research projects to headquarter operations.

Florida has long been a bellwether for national trends concerning the elderly, healthcare, politics, foreign policy, immigration and the economy. The state’s great diversity across a variety of sectors, including race, age, income, socio-economic status, nationality and geography, drives the state to experience these trends ahead of the rest of the country.

Florida is fortunate to have so much in its favor, including an unparalleled quality of life, stunning natural resources and abundant strategic and logistic assets. As a state, we stand at a crossroads. On Oct. 15, at Broward College’s Davie Campus, we’ll be presented with the platforms and leadership styles of the gubernatorial candidates as each seeks to answer important questions facing the state and nation.

It is an honor and a privilege to showcase Broward College, named one of the top 10 community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute, and our bright, diverse student body of more than 68,000 students.

We are fortunate to partner on the debate with Leadership Florida, as well as the Florida Press Association, two organizations that take seriously their role as stewards of democracy.

The contest has captured the nation’s attention — and for good reason. Floridians will choose between two governors, two very different leaders with political records and history.

The stakes are high as Florida takes center stage. We’ll learn what matters most to the diverse citizens of this state as the gubernatorial candidates seek to answer the question, “Where do we go from here?”

J. David Armstrong, Jr., president, Broward College, Fort Lauderdale

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