Monday, May 21, 2018

Who's Running for Congress in the August Primaries?

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August 28, 2018
Primary Elections in Florida
When there is more than one candidate for an office from one of the political parties, the August Primaries determine which of them will go on to the General Elections in November. Florida voters will elect one of their two U.S. Senators and their member of the House of Representatives in 2018. U.S. Senators are elected in statewide elections. Members of the House are elected by the voters in their district; Collier County voters live in either Congressional District 19 or 25. (Find your district)

Here’s what you can expect:

U.S. Senate: Republican Party Primary Only

Florida Governor Rick Scott has one primary challenger: multimillionaire developer Rocky De La Fuente. Incumbent Democrat Senator Bill Nelson is running unopposed for his party’s nomination for a fourth term in office.

Interestingly, De La Fuente ran for the Senate as a Democrat in 2016. He was then one of five challengers for the seat held by Republican Marco Rubio. He came in fourth in that race, receiving just five percent of the primary vote. He then ran for president on the Reform Party ticket and got less than one percent of the vote in the general election.


Congressional District 25: No Primaries

Democrat Mary Barzee Flores and Republican incumbent Representative Mario Diaz-Balart will be on the ballot in November. Both are unchallenged so there will be no primaries. Politico Florida says Barzee Flores “gives the longtime incumbent the first serious Democratic challenger he has had in a decade.”

           Mary Barzee Flores (D)             Mario Diaz-Balart (R)
  • Barzee Flores switches races, challenges Mario Diaz-Balart. Barzee Flores’ decision was made at the urging of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, EMILY’s List, and Florida Democrats who did not want Diaz-Balart to again escape an election cycle without a major Democratic challenger. Politico Florida, 5/3/18

Congressional District 19: Democratic Party Primary Only 

Francis Rooney (R)
Republican incumbent Representative Francis Rooney is seeking a second term and is unopposed in his party. Democrats David Holden and Todd James Truax will face off in August.
  • Democrats seeking U.S. House seat take aim at Rooney. Whichever one of the Democrats captures the Aug. 28 primary won’t have an easy go of it come November. The district votes heavily Republican. Rooney won the 2016 election with 65.9 percent of the vote over Democrat Robert Neeld. Naples Daily News, 4/4/18
As we get closer to November, I’ll write about the candidates in the General Elections. For now, here’s what I found by web research about the candidates in the District 19 Democratic primary.

The Naples Daily News called the political platforms of the two Democrats identical but said they differed in what would be their first priorities if Democrats take control of the House. For Truax, it would be to impeach President Trump. For Holden, it would be for Democrats to reorganize themselves in Congress.

David Holden (D)
David Holden is a partner in a financial planning practice in Naples. He has a degree in political science from Temple University and a Masters in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He says his educational experiences have formed his deep commitment to quality public education and affordable access to higher education for all Americans.

Holden says he has worked his entire career to solve problems for families and his community. His career includes service as Deputy Director of the California Association of Social Rehabilitation Agencies, and as President of the United Way of Greater White Plains, NY. He also spent over a decade with YMCA Youth & Government programs, helping train high school students in facets of state government, and helped Massachusetts residents gain access to quality healthcare and safe, affordable housing.

Holden’s website states his perspectives on gun violence, taxation, the environment, climate change and healthcare.

His website is www.holden2018.com, his Facebook page is here, his LinkedIn page is here, and he’s on Twitter @holden2018.

Todd James Truax (D)
Todd James Truax is a social worker, counselor, administrator and occasional nursing assistant. He has BS in psychology, gerontology from Cleveland State University, a Masters in Social Service Administration in mental health and aging from Case Western Reserve University's Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, and a certification in nursing home administration from The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business. He currently serves on the Board of Café of Life in Bonita Springs.

He says he is often sought out by leaders in Senior Housing and Long-term Care who recognize the need to attract the industry's best talent, and that his unique "hands-on" experience has helped him consistently steer communities toward regulatory compliance, solid financial returns and patient and family satisfaction since 1997.

His website states his perspectives on education, the environment, taxes, healthcare, immigration, national security, criminal justice and net neutrality.

His website is todd-james-truax.ruck.us, his Facebook page is here and his LinkedIn page is here.

How I would vote: David Holden shares my values, priorities, and positions on issues. I admire his intelligence, his drive, his passion for civic engagement, and his willingness to serve. Importantly, he has, in my view, the better chance to beat the incumbent in the November General Election. As a result, he has my support and I have contributed to his campaign.

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That wraps up my high-level review of our Congressional candidates in the August Primaries.

IMPORTANT: Since Florida is a closed primary state, voters may only vote within their party. If you have not registered as a Democrat or Republican, you cannot vote in either primary. The winning candidates of the Primary Elections will move on to the General Election in November.

Election Day is August 28. Be sure to update your voter registration information and request a Vote By Mail ballot to make voting easier, whether you will be in town in August or not. Visit www.colliervotes.com.

For more on the August Primaries, catch up on what you missed!
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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Who’s Running for Governor in the August Primaries?

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August 28, 2018
Primary Elections in Florida
This is the first of what will be several posts in the coming months about the candidates running for offices that will be on Collier voters’ ballots for the August 28 primary elections. See my earlier “Get Ready to Vote in the August 2018 Primaries” for a review of what will be on the ballot, the types of races and who can vote in each, and things you should do right now to make sure your vote is counted.

Twenty-Six Candidates!


Believe it or not, 26 candidates have qualified to run for governor: six Democrats, 12 Republicans, one Green Party, two Libertarian Party of Florida, and five No Party Affiliation.

I did some research into the six major candidates and in this post, I share what I learned.

The Democrats


Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Chris King and Philip Levine are the major Democratic candidates.

Andrew Gillum
Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee

Gillum, 38, was the first in his family to graduate college (Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University), and at age 23 became the youngest person ever elected to the Tallahassee City Commission. After being overwhelmingly reelected to three successive Commission terms, he was elected Mayor in 2014. (The population of Tallahassee is ~191,000, compared to the City of Naples population of ~22,000.) More here and here.

According to his website, "Andrew Gillum is running for Governor to rebuild Florida into a state that works for all of us."

His top three priorities are:
  • Fair Share for Florida’s Future - Gillum wants to “adjust Florida’s corporate tax level to 7.75%, which still allows corporations in Florida a massive tax cut” yet enables the state “to recoup at least $1 billion back from the richest corporations and put it where we need it most “ — education.
  • Medicare for All & Health Care as a Constitutional Right.
  • A $15 Minimum Wage.

Gillum has been called the far-left candidate in the race, and has the support of billionaire donor George Soros.

Gwen Graham, former U.S. Representative

Gwen Graham
Graham, 55, is the daughter of former Florida governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham.

Graham has degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and American University’s Washington College of Law. After working as an attorney, she was a self-described "stay-at-home mom" for 13 years while raising three children. Later, she worked for Leon County Schools as director of employee relations. She was elected to Congress in 2014, but did not seek re-election due to redistricting, which turned her seat into a safely Republican district. More here, here and here.

According to her website, “Over the past twenty years, the politicians in Tallahassee have abandoned their responsibility to educate Florida’s students, protect our environment and foster an economy that provides every family with an opportunity to get ahead. Gwen believes it’s time for government to care about people again and put Florida families first.”

Her top three priorities are:
  • Expanding Healthcare - If the Legislature won’t do it, Graham will “fight to place and pass a constitutional amendment to expand Medicaid on the 2020 ballot.”
  • Focus on Teaching, not Testing - She will “work to end the high-stakes testing and place teachers, parents and local school districts back in charge of education.”
  • Protecting Florida's Clean Water - Her four-point plan addresses failing septic tank systems, fully funds the state’s water management districts, defends and improves the state’s water quality standards, and fully funds Florida Forever as voters intended.

Graham is considered the most moderate Democrat in the race.

Chris King, Winter Park business owner
Chris King

King, 39, is an entrepreneur and founder of Elevation Financial Group,  a consortium of companies specializing in real estate investment, property management and property renovation, focused on affordable senior and multifamily housing. He is the only major candidate for governor who has never held elected office.

He has a BA from Harvard and a law degree from the University of Florida. A third-generation Central Floridian, his father was a lawyer for the Fair Districts movement and his mother played leadership roles in organizations serving those without affordable health care. More here and here.

According to his website, “Chris King is running for Governor to give every Floridian the opportunity to dream big, dare greatly, and succeed. … Florida has important needs that our politicians just aren’t addressing. One-party rule has left families behind — it’s time for practical ideas to lift up our economy and make it possible for Florida to take the lead.”

His top three priorities are:
  • More Jobs that Pay Well. 
  • Affordable Living - King's plan includes “fixing Florida’s affordable housing crisis;” free community college and public trade school; student loan forgiveness programs; and Medicaid expansion.
  • Open and Accountable Government - He will “close the revolving door between lobbyists and politicians” with an eight-year lobbying ban, and refuse to take money from Florida’s sugar industry.

King is a self-described "progressive.”

Philip Levine, former mayor of Miami Beach

Philip Levine
Levine, 56, is a businessman and entrepreneur who made his fortune in the cruiseline industry and is largely self-funding his campaign.

As two-term Mayor of Miami Beach (population ~92,000), he focused on responding to climate change and sea level rise. He has a BA from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, and completed the advanced leadership program at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. More here and here.

According to his website, “Philip Levine is running for Governor with a progressive vision to move Florida forward as a leader in the 21st century economy.”

His top three priorities are:
  • Investing in Tomorrow’s Leaders Today - Levine wants tuition-free college for students who can’t otherwise afford it, provided they work in the state “for a period of time;” “meaningful investments” in vocational and technical training; and a stop to tax dollars going to for-profit charter schools.
  • Protecting and Preserving our Environment - He proposes a special office dedicated to fostering climate change resiliency, and would have the Department of Environmental Protection work within its existing budget to create a culture for startup solar energy companies.
  • An Economy That Grows Opportunities for All - He would sign an Executive Order requiring equal pay for equal work. He would also propose a “statewide living minimum wage” and empower local communities to go higher.

Levine, who calls himself a “radical centrist,” has said he likes a lot of Republican ideas and considered running as an Independent.

The Republicans


Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam are the major Republican candidates.

Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis, U.S. Representative

DeSantis, 39, served in the Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps, working directly with detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and was deployed to Iraq with SEAL Team One. He has a BA from Yale and a JD from Harvard Law. More here and here.

DeSantis was elected to Congress in 2013. While there, according to his website, “he has led efforts to impose term limits on members of Congress, cut taxes, repeal ObamaCare, relocate America’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, … combat radical Islamic terrorism, stop illegal immigration and defund sanctuary cities, and conduct oversight over … the investigation into … the use of the Clinton-funded Steele dossier against Donald Trump, and the failure to prosecute the criminal activity of terrorist group Hezbollah by Eric Holder’s DOJ.”

His top three priorities are:
  • Strengthening Florida by Creating a Global Economy - “We need to continue trade relationships with countries like Israel which are strong in the tech sector. When they want to bring their business and technology to this country, we need to ensure Florida is the place they do it.”
  • Florida as the Global Education Leader - As a “leader in school choice initiatives, we must create an environment where parents can place their child in any school they see fit.”
  • Reshaping Florida’s Court System - “We need to get serious about tort reform,” and also “shape the Supreme Court with appointing at least three justices … and cement a constitutional majority.”

DeSantis says, “As a proven conservative, with the support of the president, I’m in a position to exercise the leadership that can build on the great work that Governor Rick Scott has done to advance economic opportunity, reform education, and drain the swamp in Tallahassee that needs to be drained just like Washington.”

Adam Putnam, Florida commissioner of agriculture

Adam Putnam
Putnam, 43, was first elected Commissioner of Agriculture in 2010. Reelected in 2014, he is now term-limited.

A fifth-generation Florida cattle rancher and citrus grower, Putnam was the youngest person ever elected to the Florida House of Representatives at age 22. After two terms in the Legislature, he served ten years in the U.S. House of Representatives, then returned to Florida to run for his current position. Putnam has a degree in food and resource economics from the University of Florida. More here and here.

According to his website, “Adam is running for Governor to ensure that every Floridian has the freedom and opportunity to pursue his or her American Dream.” 

  • Make Florida the first choice for Americans to launch their careers, start their businesses and raise their families - Putnam wants to strengthen workforce training; let parents decide what’s right for their kids; and return decision-making about what goes on in the schools to local school districts.
  • Make Florida first in the nation in protecting 2nd Amendment rights.
  • Make Florida first in welcoming our military, veterans and their families - Ensure members of the military can seamlessly transition into civilian life; expedite veterans to the front of the line; and support veterans through mental health services and when they encounter the criminal justice system.

Putnam is considered the more moderate of the Republican candidates.

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That wraps up my high-level review of the four major Democrats and two major Republicans running for governor.

IMPORTANT: Since Florida is a closed primary state, voters may only vote within their party. If you have not registered as a Democrat or Republican, you cannot vote in either primary. The winning candidates of the Primary Election, if there is opposition from another party, will then move on to the General Election in November.

Election Day is August 28. Be sure to update your voter registration information and request a Vote By Mail ballot to make voting easier, whether you will be in town in August of not. Visit www.colliervotes.com.

___________________________

Help me reach more Collier County voters by sharing this post with your friends. You and they can read Sparker’s Soapbox online at www.sparkers-soapbox.com or subscribe to posts by email at tinyurl.com/subscribe-to-soapbox.

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Monday, May 7, 2018

School board candidate forums begin today; more to come!

School Board Candidate
Forums begin today!
Almost half our property taxes support public education in Florida, yet fewer than ten percent of registered voters elected two school board members in the 2014 mid-term elections.

This August, three school board seats are on the ballot, and all Collier voters, regardless of the district they live in, can vote in each of the three races.

And since School Board elections are nonpartisan, all registered voters can vote in August, when school board elections are frequently decided  regardless of party affiliation.

All seven candidates to-date for the three seats on the ballot have said they will participate in the upcoming forums. They are:

District 1 - Jory Westberry
District 3 - Victor Dotres, Jen Mitchell, Kathy Ryan
District 5 - Darlene Alvarez, Mary Ellen Cash, Roy M Terry III
If a campaign website could not be found, the link is to colliervotes.com filings.

You’ll be amazed how much more prepared for voting you will feel after you’ve met the candidates, heard them speak, or watched a candidate forum. So mark your calendar now and plan to attend!

TODAY! Monday, May 7 — 6 - 7:30 PM - School Board Candidate Forum, sponsored by Greater Naples Better Government Committee, Collier Citizen's Council, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, Greater Naples Leadership, Collier County Presidents Council, Greater Naples Better Government Committee, League of Women Voters Collier County, Naples Press Club. The Norris Center, 755 8th Avenue S., Naples (directions)

Thursday, May 10 — Doors open at 5 PM, Forum starts at 5:30 PM - School Board Candidate Forum, sponsored by Florida Citizens’ Alliance. Marco Island Historical Society, 180 S. Heathwood Dr., Marco Island (directions)

Wednesday, May 23 — 5 - 7 PM - School Board Candidate Forum, sponsored by Coalition for Quality Public Education (C4QPE), Collier County NAACP, Jewish Federation of Greater Naples. Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples, 6340 Napa Woods Way, Naples (directions)

July 11, 5 PM — School Board Candidate Forum, sponsored by Coalition for Quality Public Education (C4QPE), NAACP of Collier County, Jewish Federation of Greater Naples, Marco Island Chamber of Commerce. Jewish Congregation of Marco Island, 991 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island (directions)

I hope to see you at one of these events!

Note: As published 05/07/18, we wrote that the July 11 forum would be at the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples. Updated 05/07/18:  The July 11 forum will be at the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island, 991 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island. 

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Help me reach more Collier County voters by sharing this post with your friends. You and they can read Sparker’s Soapbox online at www.sparkers-soapbox.com or subscribe to posts by email at tinyurl.com/subscribe-to-soapbox.

News happens daily! Stay current with Sparker’s Soapbox on Facebook at fb.me/sparkers.soapbox or follow me on Twitter @SparkersSoapbox.



Wednesday, May 2, 2018

State News in Review - April 2018

April 2018
Florida voters should be aware of four significant developments in April affecting state government:
  1. The Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) approved eight amendments for the November ballot, bringing to 13 the number of amendments Florida voters will decide;
  2. A judge upheld a 2017 education law challenged by Collier, Lee and 12 other school boards;
  3. An appeals court handed Gov. Rick Scott a win on a voter rights restoration case; and
  4. The Legislature failed to reach agreement on an updated gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe, but the Tribe will keep making its monthly payments through next May.
For more on these and other top state news stories, read on!

2018 constitutional amendments
There will be 13 amendments on our ballot in November — eight from the CRC, three from the Legislature, and two from citizens’ initiatives.

Several CRC amendments bundle multiple changes into one ballot question, so there are really more than 13 different changes to consider.

The bundling by the CRC has been, in my view, rightly criticized:
  • Editorial: CRC bundling shouldn’t save bad proposals. A Constitution is a framework to safeguard fundamental rights that will stand the test of time, not be the kitchen sink repository of proposals addressing the latest trends that could disappear as quickly as the vapor from an electronic cigarette. Naples Daily News, 4/21/18
The criticism is particularly apt with respect to what will be Amendment 8 - School Board Term Limits and Duties; Public Schools.
  • Opinion: Don’t be fooled by proposed education amendment. The CRC proposal would take power away from our local elected school boards and give it to an unelected, unaccountable state board with free rein to create charter schools whenever and wherever they want. By Pamela S. Goodman, President, League of Women Voters of Florida, via Palm Beach Post, 4/10/18
However in an op-ed in support of the amendment, CRC Education Committee and Collier School Board member Erika Donalds said the bundling of three education proposals into one was a “logical grouping” that is “in keeping with the work of previous Constitution Revision Commissions.”

I’ll write more about the amendments and how I plan to vote on them closer to November.

Florida school boards lose HB 7069 lawsuit — for now
In 2017, Gov. Scott signed HB 7069, a 274-page, charter-friendly education bill that covers a wide range of provisions, some easing the ways in which charter schools can open and secure tax dollars. Ultimately, fourteen of Florida’s 67 school boards challenged aspects of the law.

On a 3–2 vote, Collier’s school board joined the lawsuit as an “intervening member,” challenging two specific issues: the Schools of Hope charter program, and standardized charter school contracts.

Recently:
A win for Gov. Scott — for now
In a landmark ruling with far-reaching implications, a U.S. District Judge in February found Florida's scheme for restoring the voting rights of felons unconstitutional. Last month, on a 2–1 vote, a federal appeals court disagreed.
With the appeals court win, there’s little chance any of Florida’s 1.5 million former felons will have their rights restored in time to vote later this year.

Now it’s up to the voters. Amendment 4, if approved in November, would automatically restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences.

A missed opportunity on the gaming front
At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars a year of state revenue, the loss of which would leave a significant hole in the budget.

The backstory: An agreement originally ratified by the Legislature in 2010 and renegotiated in 2015 provides the Seminole Tribe of Florida with exclusivity over most casino-style games in exchange for monthly deposits to the state treasury. While the 2015 compact has a twenty-year term, the authorization for banked card games expired on July 31, 2015, and since then, the parties have been trying to agree on a new contract to replace the lost revenues.

A hoped-for agreement that could have been ratified in a special session did not materialize. To forestall expanding slot machine gaming around the state, the Tribe said it would continue its monthly revenue sharing payments until May 2019, when next year's session ends.

Meanwhile, a “Voters In Charge” initiative gathered enough petitions to put Amendment 3 - Voter Control of Gambling in Florida on the November ballot. The extent of gambling expansion in Florida could be up to the voters to decide.

In other state government news…
May 2018 candidate forums and town halls

Try to attend one or more of the three upcoming opportunities to hear from candidates for Collier County School Board and the Florida House of Representatives. They are great ways to become more informed voters. All Collier residents vote in a school board elections, regardless of where you live, and Collier residents living in the mid- to western-part of the county are in either House District 80 or 106.
  • 5/7/18 - Collier School Board Candidates, 6 - 7:30 PM, The Norris Center, 755 8th Ave S, Naples, co-sponsored by the Collier Citizens Council, the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, Greater Naples Leadership, the Collier County Presidents Council and the Great Naples Better Government Committee
  • 5/10/18 - Collier School Board Candidates, 5 - 7 PM, Marco Island Historical Society, 180 S Heathwood Drive, Marco Island, sponsored by Florida Citizens Alliance
  • 5/14/18 - Florida House Primary Candidates (District 80 and 106), 6 - 7:30 PM, The Norris Center, 755 8th Ave S, Naples, co-sponsored by the Collier Citizens Council, the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, Greater Naples Leadership, the Collier County Presidents Council and the Great Naples Better Government Committee
That’s it for April’s state government news. Stay tuned in the coming days for my next "Get Ready for the 2018 Elections" post!


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Help me reach more Collier County voters by sharing this post with your friends. You and they can read Sparker’s Soapbox online at www.sparkers-soapbox.com or subscribe to posts by email at tinyurl.com/subscribe-to-soapbox.

News happens daily! Stay current with Sparker’s Soapbox on Facebook at fb.me/sparkers.soapbox or follow me on Twitter @SparkersSoapbox.



Sunday, April 29, 2018

Local News in Review - April 2018


Here’s my latest review of local news about decisions made by our elected officials and our governing bodies.

In one sentence: The County Commission moved a one percent sales tax to the November ballot but failed to act on affordable housing; the county’s crime rate continued its steady decline; the City of Naples Planning Board is considering proposals for the Third Street South Plaza and related parking challenges; City voters will face an Ethics Panel referendum in November; and the School Board adopted tough new security measures in the wake of the Parkland shootings.

For more on these and other stories voters should be aware of, read on!

Board of County Commissioners
Sales tax referendum
Managing growth and development
Other County news
City of Naples
City of Marco Island
Collier County Public Schools
Local elections

That’s it for April’s local news. Stay tuned in the coming days for my review of state government news!

Catch up: My last post | My website

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Help me reach more Collier County voters by sharing this post with your friends. You and they can read Sparker’s Soapbox online at www.sparkers-soapbox.com or subscribe to posts by email at tinyurl.com/subscribe-to-soapbox.

News happens daily! Stay current with Sparker’s Soapbox on Facebook at fb.me/sparkers.soapbox or follow me on Twitter @SparkersSoapbox.



Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Get Ready to Vote in the August 2018 Primaries

Primary Elections
August 28, 2018
Less than 100 days from now, vote-by-mail ballots for the August 28 primary elections will be on the way to Collier voters who requested them. Early voting begins on August 18.

Between now and then, I’ll be researching the candidates and issues to help inform Collier voters. And I’ll share what I learn and how I’ll vote in a series of “Get Ready to Vote” posts in the coming weeks and months. This is the first in that series, and I'll start with the basics.

What will be on the ballot?
From the Collier Supervisor of Elections and Florida Department of State websites, I learned that these offices will be on the ballot if contested:
  • Federal Legislative: U.S. Senate and House (Districts 19 and 25)
  • State Executive: Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer, Commissioner of Agriculture
  • State Legislative: State Senate (District 28), State House (Districts 80, 105, 106)
  • State Attorney 20th Circuit, Public Defender 20th Circuit
  • Circuit Judges 20th Circuit, County Court Judges
  • County: Commissioner (District 2 and 4)
  • School Board: Member (Districts 1, 3 and 5)

What are the types of races and who gets to vote in each?
Partisan vs nonpartisan
Florida is a closed primary state, which means that only people registered with a political party can vote in that party’s primary.

In August, there will be both partisan elections, in which only registered party members can vote, and nonpartisan elections, in which all registered voters, regardless of party, can vote.

However, if all the candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner of the primary election will not face any opposition in the general election (i.e. no write-in candidates have qualified), then all registered voters can vote for any of the candidates for that office in the primary election. This is referred to as the “write-in loophole,” and it was a major factor in the 2016 primary elections. See Editorial: Act now to get write-in loophole fix on November ballot, Treasure Coast Newspapers via Naples Daily News, 4/8/18.

At-large vs single-district
In addition, there will be both at-large elections, in which all registered voters can vote regardless of where in the county they live, and single-district elections, in which only those who live in the district can vote. Your district information is printed on your voter registration card, or call or email the Supervisor of Elections office: (239) 252-VOTE (8683) or SupervisorofElections@colliergov.net.

Here is a summary of those distinctions for Collier voters’ August elections:



Things to do right now
  • Request a vote-by-mail (VBM) ballot if you won’t be in town to vote in person or if you simply prefer the time savings of voting from home, as I do. Do it online by answering a few questions and then printing out, signing and mailing in a form, or by requesting a paper form to fill out from the Supervisor of Elections office: (239) 252-VOTE (8683). or SupervisorofElections@colliergov.net. The postal service will not forward vote-by-mail ballots, even if you’re arranged for mail forwarding. You MUST give the Supervisor of Elections the address to which your ballot should be mailed.
  • Check the status of your VBM ballot if you’ve already requested one. Confirm it online or by phone (239–252-VOTE) (8683). For me, the website shows:


  • Review your voter registration information and make any needed changes. Do it online or by calling the Supervisor of Elections office: (239) 252-VOTE (8683). Make sure they have your current address and the party affiliation of the primary you want to vote in. If the signature on file might not match your current signature, consider updating it. I update mine every few years.

That’s it for now. I look forward to becoming a more informed voter and sharing what I learn. It’s in all of our best interests to participate in an informed way in the election process and to take full advantage of our right to vote. After all, democracy is not a spectator sport.

Note: As published 4/16/18, we wrote that all judicial elections were nonpartisan. Updated 04/17/18:  State Attorney and Public Defender elections are partisan, Circuit and County Court Judges are nonpartisan.

___________________________

Help me reach more Collier County voters by sharing this post with your friends. You and they can read Sparker’s Soapbox online at www.sparkers-soapbox.com or subscribe to posts by email at tinyurl.com/subscribe-to-soapbox.

News happens daily! Stay current with Sparker’s Soapbox on Facebook at fb.me/sparkers.soapbox or follow me on Twitter @SparkersSoapbox.



Tuesday, April 10, 2018

State News in Review - March 2018++

It’s a wrap!
After a three-day extension, the Legislature ended its 2017–18 session on Sunday, March 11, with the passage of a $88.7 billion budget. That’s not just a record for the state. It’s more than Gov. Scott’s $87.4 billion request, the House’s $87.2 billion proposal and the Senate’s $87.3 billion bill.
The budget
Important bills signed by the governor
The “train” bill (HB 7055) — which the Governor signed — includes dozens of changes for the state’s 67 school districts. They include:
  • a new "Hope scholarship" program, which offers vouchers for public-school students who are bullied or otherwise face harassment, to transfer to private schools;
  • a new voucher program that bolsters the existing Gardiner scholarships, which provide aid to disabled students, and could be used to expand the longstanding Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program;
  • a new voucher program that provides reading scholarships, which can be used for private services like tutoring for struggling readers in the third through fifth grades;
  • requiring schools to prominently display the state motto, “In God We Trust;” and 
  • overhauling rules governing charter schools, including raising evidentiary standards used by school boards in terminating charter contracts. 
Related: Florida leads nation in school vouchers, and there are more to come. Miami-Herald, 3/31/18 
Related: Private school voucher plan for bullied children becomes law. Herald-Tribune, 3/11/18 
Related: Private voucher schools face new rules but still free to hire teachers without degrees. Orlando Sentinel 3/12/18 
Related: Florida Senate deals blow to teachers unions. Palm Beach Post, 3/3/18 
Bills that failed
In the courts
An update on the Constitution Revision Commission
The Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is a group of 37 people appointed last year to review and recommend changes to the Florida Constitution. It’s one of five ways Florida can amend its constitution, and it only happens once every 20 years. Proposals it approves will be on Florida ballots in November.

In all, 782 public proposals and 103 commissioner proposals were considered by the Commission. In late March, commissioners agreed to send 25 of them to the  Style & Drafting Committee, which will clarify, codify, arrange and group them, and draft the ballot title summaries to appear on the ballot. The CRC will meet again in April for a final vote.
It was another busy month!

In April: The Legislature may be called back for a special session if an updated gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe is reached. The CRC will likely finalize the amendments it will put on the November ballot. And state and local election campaigns will continue to heat up. On Monday, as long-expected, Rick Scott declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, challenging incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. Many say Florida will be the “battleground for control of Congress.”

Stay tuned for next month’s Sparker's Soapbox for updates!
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