The Midterm Elections are happening NOW. Vote by mail ballots were sent out last week and should be in voters’ hands by the week of the October 8th (you can request or track your ballot here).
You can skip the reasoning/background and see my recommendations here. Whatever you do, make sure you vote. You can vote early from Monday, October 22nd until Saturday November 3rd from 9 AM – 6 PM at:
- Supervisor of Elections Office (515 N. Main St., Gainesville)
- J. Wayne Reitz Union (655 Reitz Union Drive, UF Campus, Gainesville)
- Legacy Park Multipurpose Center (15400 Peggy Road, Alachua)
- Millhopper Branch Library (3145 NW 43rd Street, Gainesville)
- Melrose United Methodist Church (5807 Hampton Street, Melrose)
- Tower Road Branch Library (3020 SW 75th Street, Gainesville)
You can also vote on election day, Tuesday November 6th from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and you can find your voting location here. I’ve changed the order of the ballot around since the bottom of the ballot needs more attention.
These are my views and in no way reflect those of any organizations that I’m associated with.
There’s a long list of proposed amendments, which need to pass by 60% of the vote to become law. The League of Women Voters has gone through a good explanation of all 13 of these but briefly:
Amendment 1: Grants an additional $25,000 homestead exemption for property tax. This loss of revenue would cripple local governments from being able to provide services. VOTE NO.
Amendment 2: Would permanently cap at 10% the maximum value increase for non-homestead properties. This includes places like vacation homes,, vacant land, and office parks. This is something that is already in law but is set to expire in 2019. If it’s allowed to expire local governments would be allowed to collect taxes on the true value of these properties. VOTE NO.
Amendment 3: Restricts the expansion of gambling. I might catch flak for this as a prude, but I think gambling should be outlawed due to predatory practices exploiting people with addictions. Anything to slow it down is good to me. VOTE YES.
Amendment 4: Restore voting rights for most felons who have served their time. VOTE HELL YES.
Amendment 5: Would require a 2/3 majority to to increase taxes. This is another way to protect reactionary tax cuts for generations. VOTE NO.
Amendment 6: Changes victim rights and the way the courts interpret laws. Most of the rights are already in state law and the changes to the courts are problematic. VOTE NO.
Amendment 7: Supermajority requirements for raising tuition, imposing student fees, and gives death benefits to first responders. While I’m for free public education, that’s not an option and rich kids should pay right now. VOTE NO.
Amendment 8: The Supreme Court removed this from the ballot. It was a bad amendment anyway. VOTE NO.
Amendment 9: Prevents some offshore oil drilling and vaping indoors. This would only stop oil drilling 9 miles off the West/South coast and 3 miles off the East coast. No one wants to drill this close to shore because there’s no oil there. The Deepwater Horizon, which devastated beaches, was over 100 miles off the Florida coast. There is a fear that this being voted down will be a sign to that Florida doesn’t care about the environment, but I think the opposite is true. Passing a do nothing amendment will placate many people into thinking something was actually done. As far as vaping indoors, that’s douchey and can be outlawed via statute. VOTE NO.
Amendment 10: Creates a counterterrorism unit in the state and mandates a bunch of stuff on counties. We don’t need this. VOTE NO.
Amendment 11: Removes an antiquated anti-Asian law that says immigrants can’t own land. It would also allow the state legislature to apply sentencing reform on those already convicted of crimes. VOTE YES.
Amendment 12: Bans elected officials from being lobbyists while in office and for 6 years after leaving office, as well as other anti-corruption measures. A major issue with this amendment is that it’ll be very hard to change once enacted. But this is the only way to get something like this passed, since there’s no real mechanism for voters to directly pass legislation and elected officials won’t pass this themselves. John Dewey famously said that government is the shadow cast by big business.This bill wouldn’t end that relationship but would throw a wrench in it. VOTE YES.
Amendment 13: Bans Greyhound racing. Greyhound racing is awful. Just awful. VOTE YES.
Children’s Trust of Alachua County
Would set up a special taxing district with a board who will oversee the funds. The funds would go towards postnatal care, childcare for working families, after school programs, etc. Vote yes unless you hate children.
Half-Cent Sales Surtax to Improve School Facilities
Schools in Alachua County are not doing well, and it’s mostly because of cuts from Tallahassee politicians (isn’t Senator Perry awful?). This tax would add a half cent to your sales tax and the money itself would would go to school infrastructure. Two schools in East Gainesville will be completely remodeled but every school is getting numerous projects. Vote yes on the half cent sales tax because children deserve better schools.
Municipal Referenda on Privatizing Gainesville Regional Utilities
This is one of the most important things on the ballot. It was placed here by Representative Clemons and Senator Perry. Aren’t they just the worst? Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) has a sign above its headquarters that reads “Owned by the People it Serves,” which is a problem for reactionaries. Right now GRU is controlled by elected Gainesville Commissioners and this referendum seeks to change it to an appointed, unaccountable, board. The endgame is privatization of this publicly owned utility. Since GRU is owned by us, we can move beyond profit, which is the narrow goal of privatized utilities. Gatornet, the GRU owned fiber optics network, is signed onto the Net Neutrality pledge while Cox fought against it. GRU has moved away from mountaintop removal coal, added solar feed in programs, and built a carbon neutral biomass plant, all of which cut into the profits of GRU. Vote no on the GRU referendum because people should have democratic control of our utilities. Also Keith Perry is awful and he wants this, so don’t let him have it
City of Gainesville Charter Amendment City Commission Elections and Terms of Office
This referendum is years in the making. This would move city elections from the current March/April to the August November cycle. It’s important because turnout for city elections hovers between 10% and 15% outside a presidential primary. It would also save a lot of money for the city and time for voters. Vote yes for better elections.
County Commissioner District 2
Marihelen Wheeler is a retired union teacher, who is good on the environment and great on workers’ issues. She’ll also the only woman on the 5 member board of County Commissioners. Vote for Marihelen Wheeler because she earned it.
Justice of the Supreme Court and District Court of Appeals
It’s weird that there’s an option to recall or retain judges. The judicial branch is supposed to be outside of politics but that has changed a lot in recent years (see the successful recall of the Judge Aaron Persky in the Stanford rape case). This is the moment we live in and we should vote no on the Rick Scott Appointments.
Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Alan Lawson for his 2011 opinion an important LGBTQ+ issue.
Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Harvey Jay.
Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Stephanie W. Ray.
Vote yes for Brad Thomas.
Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Kemmerly Thomas.
Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Allen Winsor.
Circuit Judge 8th Judicial Circuit Group 8
David Robertson is a former military lawyer and current Department of Transportation chief counsel. His job is under threat at the DOT because of the large number of affairs he has had with subordinates. Obviously, he’s now working tirelessly to get the whistleblower fired.
Meanwhile Gloria Walker is the managing Attorney and Director of Litigation at 3 Rivers Legal Services which services the abused, disabled, elderly, and poor. Read her story, cry little, give her campaign a few dollars, and then go vote for her. Vote for Gloria Walker because she’s the most qualified for the job.
County Judge Group 2
I like both of the candidates for this seat. Craig DeThomasis is a local defense attorney who firm has represented people facing political persecution in Alachua County. And Meshon Rawls is a distinguished UF Law professor who has spent much of her career defending juveniles in the criminal justice system. I’ll be voting for Rawls but I will still be very happy if DeThomasis wins the set.
School Board District 3
There’s are some very vocal people who really, really dislike Gunnar Paulson. At times he can be abrasive and I understand why people would focus the perceived failures of the current school board on him. He’s been good for the teachers and paraprofessionals in many ways though. Nonetheless I understand why some people are not supporting him in this election.
What I don’t understand is why anyone is supporting April Tisher. She is a Republican who wants more cops in schools and can count anti-education Florida Senator Keith Perry and the John Birch Society as her supporters. I don’t understand how progressives could vote for a reactionary as opposed to voting for Paulson or leaving the ballot blank.
Soil and Water Conservation District Group 3
Seldom do you see an actual fascist face off against an actual socialist. But this is 2018 and we have Chris Rose II, a neo confederate jerkwad, running against comrade-in-arms Kaithleen Hernandez. Soil and Water is a nonpartisan election so you sometimes get the Green Party, Communist Party USA , Freedom Party, or the the Libertarian Party of Florida, but this is a first for me. Vote for Kaithleen Hernandez because she will slow down the big agriculture development of North Central Florida. As a bonus, you also get to not vote for a fascist.
State and Federal Races
State Senator District 8
There’s not enough negative things that can be said about the current Senator in District 8, Keith Perry. He’s tried to preempt our wage theft ordinance (spoiler: his business has been found guilty of wage theft), has kneecapped our local hiring preference which helps out young construction workers in certified apprenticeship programs (spoiler: his business benefited from this), and he recently pushed a bill that would lead to the privatization of Gainesville Regional Utilities (spoiler: his donors would benefit from the privatization). He’s pushed tax cuts that have benefited him and his rich friends, was the deciding vote on HB 7069 which is leading to the closure of Hawthorne Middle/High School, and has put school privation on steroids. And he’s terrible on Stand Your Ground, is opposed to marijuana decriminalization, and and has offered little more than lip service for felon re-enfranchisement. To put it bluntly, Perry sucks.
But this is a rough district for anyone to win. Obama carried it in 2012 by 1.2% and Trump won in 2016 by 0.2%. Yet Perry walked away in 2016 with 53% of the vote (Rod Smith was a blue dog democrat former State Attorney who was extremely problematic). This seat is all the more difficult now that former Gainesville Commissioner Charles Goston decided (or was coached) to run without any party affiliation as a giant fuck you to white liberals, unions, black women, and the entire coalition who helped get him out of office.
Kayser Enneking is someone many progressives are predisposed to distrust. She’s a well educated, rich, white woman, born into wealth, who few movement activists knew much about before she decided to run for office. I was prepared to vote against Perry more than vote for her. But she’s shown up for things that matter to this community. She’s been to living wage meetings at the Civic Media Center and Renters’ Rights meetings at the Alachua County Labor Coalition offices. She’s also followed up in advocating at UF for OPS workers and put work in on causes that progressives care about. She’s also a powerful woman breaking into the almost-all-boys-club of state politics and is a physician who been a consistent advocate for access to healthcare. Vote for Enneking because she’ll push for a living wage and housing rights inside and outside the Florida Senate.
State Representative District 21
Vote for Jason Haesler because he’ll be a good Representative. And let’s be honest, if you got this far on the blog you’re already voting straight Ds.
He also has a sweet beard.
United States Senator:
US Senator Nelson is not a progressive by any stretch of the imagination. He hasn’t signed on as a cosponsor or said he would support Senate Bill 1804, the Medicare For All Act. He’s not great on Palestine and is generally pro-empire (imperialism, war, etc.). He was part of the Clinton “New Democrat” coalition of fiscally conservative Democrats who cut back social spending to anemic levels and domestically waged war on black and brown people. It’s important that we do not whitewash Nelson’s politics for expediency. But as Trump showed us – it can get worse.
Rick Scott is one of those most vile politicians in the history of Florida. He’s a millionaire who oversaw one of the largest Medicare frauds in history and bought his way into his seat. He continues to make himself and his friends richer at the expense of working people. His formula of tax cuts, school privatization, social spending cuts, and the over policing of people of color would be brought to DC. Vote Bill Nelson for US Senate because he’s not Rick Scott.
Representative in Congress District 3
Congressman Ted Yoho is just awful. Most recently he pondered why the Kavanaugh accusers didn’t come out sooner while claiming Roy Moore’s charges were bogus (link). The list of things he’s said and done is so absurd it’s hard to believe he’s a real person. Hell, he said said only landowners should be allowed to vote in 2014 and was still elected. Twice.
Yvonne Hayes Hinson is a former City of Gainesville Commissioner who lost to Goston in 2015. She was good on her three years on the city commission but it’s an uphill battle against Yoho. Fivethirtyeight gives her a less than 1 out of 100 chance of winning this strongly conservative district. Nonetheless, vote for Yvonne Hayes Hinson because she’d be a good Congressperson.
Governor and Lt. Governor
There’s a real opportunity for Florida to elected a progressive Governor with Andrew Gillum. The Miami native, who grew up in Gainesville, is the current Mayor of Tallahassee. He’s called for a $50,000 starting salary for teachers (paid for by taxing the rich). He’s an environmentalist, wants to reign in Stand Your Ground, and stop private prisons. While not directly under investigation, his administration has a lot of baggage due to corruption in local politics. And of course he’s also a progressive black man and the far right will use any dog whistles they can.
Ron Desantis won his primary in large part thanks to support from Trump. After winning the nomination he couldn’t wait a full 24 hours before starting the racism by calling on voters not to “monkey up” the election by voting for this “articulate spokesperson for Socialism”. And this is a theme he’s used throughout his campaign. Scare white people away from Gillum by calling him a gay socialist criminal. Vote for Gillum/King in November unless you’re a racist. In that case, how’d you find this blog?
The Florida Attorney General is a very important position. There’s high profile things they can do like sue the Trump like sue the Trump administration over family separations, but most of their work is in state. Of particular interest to me is the prosecution of violations to the state’s minimum wage law. When we were working on the Alachua County Wage Theft ordinance we called the Attorney General’s office to see what data they had and found that they were unaware that they had this responsibility.
Sean Shaw has committed that, if elected, his office will start prosecuting wage theft violations, loosen regulations on marijuana, and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in the opioid crisis. He also has one of the most progressive voting records in the Florida house and has been a strong supporter of public schools. Vote for Sean Shaw because we need someone to keep the bosses who steal our wages in check.
Chief Financial Officer
Jeremy Ring is a millionaire, an early employee at Yahoo, and your run-of-the-mill technocratic Democrat. He was lukewarm while in the Florida Senate, even becoming one of the few Democrats allowed to chair a committee in the Republican controlled chamber. That said, he’s mountains better than the Republican running, Jimmy Patronis.
Vote for Jeremy Ring because you don’t know what the Florida CFO does but you’re pretty sure you don’t want a Republican doing the job.
Commissioner of Agriculture
This is a pretty important position with a lot of say over consumer protections. Of most interest to me Is Niki Fried’s positions on deregulating medical marijuana and taking on the NRA. Matt Caudwell is an unimpressive white dude who thinks that wearing ridiculous bow ties has prepared him for one of the most important elected positions in Florida.
Vote for Nikki Fried because she’ll help bring smokable medical marijuana to Florida.