Newly installed Gov. Ron DeSantis sent Floridians a bipartisan message that they haven’t heard from leaders in Tallahassee for a while. In his 16-minute inauguration speech on Tuesday, DeSantis sounded sincere when he spoke of Republicans and Democrats working together for the good of Florida.
Standing outside the Old Capital, DeSantis at 40 a young state chief, spoke as a regular guy, admitting that he is “conscious of my own deficiencies.” He vowed, however, that Floridians would get “a full heart, my best judgment and the courage of my convictions.
We’ll take it — and hope for the best.
Regardless of whether or not one voted for DeSantis, for whom President Trump went all in early in the campaign, Floridians can take heart that he comes across as personable and, even better, approachable. We hope these characteristics extend to his relationship with the media, whom former Gov. Rick Scott stonewalled and too often shut out in the face of challenging questions. We hope DeSantis is committed to openness and transparency with the people he represents.
DeSantis said he will build on an inherited solid economic foundation and, unlike Scott, now Florida’s junior senator, he will champion Florida’s environmental future and protect it. He highlighted his commitment to deal with the blue-green algae and red tide, bedeviling Florida’s coasts. That’s a first in eight years for Floridians, who endured a governor for whom climate change did not exist. At least DeSantis gets the critical link between our environment, our economy and our very future.
He also signa —led he will tackle healthcare in Florida, likely a project for new Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, a healthcare executive, the highest ranking Latin woman in the state’s political history — and a Miamian. DeSantis should be praised for selecting Nuñez, a respected veteran member of the Florida Legislature.
“The people of Florida deserve relief,” DeSantis said of the state’s healthcare woes. He’s right, but let’s hope that relief entails at least a compromise that includes expanding Medicaid for 1 million needy Floridians — relief that Scott refused to grant.
The new governor signaled a slight change in school curriculum. DeSantis believes we should return to teaching civics, so students can learn the “duties of citizenship.” That’s a solid idea. DeSantis also says that vocational education should be enhanced — building on the conservatives’ idea that not every student should head for college. He is a proponent of school choice, of course, and we urge him to not undercut public schools solely to boost for-profit charters.
Like his predecessor, he said he will aggressively move to name judicial candidates only concerned with interpreting the law — not legislating from the bench. DeSantis, who will be in Miami Wednesday to announce a nominee for one of three openings on the Florida Supreme Court. He should correct the absence of any African-American justice on that bench.
Also on Tuesday, DeSantis gave every indication he will suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for his office’s failures during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February. Reports are that Israel has not been officially notified, but he told his staff he expects to be removed — and he should be.
DeSantis appears to be off to a solid start. Let’s hope — for Florida’s sake — that he stays on track.