Reporter’s Corner:

Who speaks for you?

Ashley Hunter
Columnist

On Tuesday, April 9, a special election for a new District 7 State Representative will be held, with Jefferson County's early voting session beginning on March 30 and ending on April 6.
The special election's ballot will bear the name of the four candidates vying for the Florida House of Representatives District 7 seat (formerly held by Monticello's own Halsey Beshears): Jason Shoaf (R), of Port St. Joe; Lynda Bell (R), of Tallahassee; Mike Watkins (R), of Panacea; and Virginia Fuller (R), of Tallahassee.
The fifth candidate is Ryan Terrell (D), of Tallahassee, as the solitary democrat candidate.
The four republican candidates and lone democrat candidate will all be vying for the opportunity to serve the citizens of Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, Lafayette, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla Counties (as well as parts of Leon County) on the state level.
Historically, elections that don't pertain to hot-item local seats or the “big” elections, such as the country's presidency, can expect a lower voter participation.
For example, during the 2008 elections that secured President Obama as the President of the United States, 57.1 percent of the voting-age population cast ballots; however two years later, only 36.9 percent of voters cast ballots in the midterm election. When Obama's reelection came onto the ballot in 2012, voter turnout again boosted to 53.7 percent (according to pewresearch.org).
It would seem that the decline in voter participation in elections that pertain to state or federal representatives would imply that voters believe that those elections are less important or less crucial to follow and turn out for – and how wrong that mindset would be!
On April 9, Republican voters will be determining which of the four conservative candidates will represent their voice on the June 18 general election ballot (which will also include Terrell, as he will not be included on the April ballot due to having no democrat contestant).
Shoaf, Watkins, Bell, Fuller or Terrell will serve as the Florida District 7 State Representative where they will weigh in on matters pertaining to economic growth, environmental topics, educational development, transportation requirements, the growth of commerce and tourism, state taxes, immigration problems and justice issues.
One of those five individuals will decide how taxpayer money is spent, what items are included in the state budget, and which bills get passed on to be signed by Gov. DeSantis and made into laws.
Whichever of these five candidates wins the election will introduce and vote on the bills that they are passionate about and are favored (or opposed) by the citizens they represent.
While elections that will decide on presidents and governors are important, don't forget that those positions cannot accomplish anything for the American citizens without the men and women in the senate, in congress and in the house of representatives.
Research your candidates, learn about which matters are important to each District 7 candidate, which topics they consider themselves passionate about and vote for the candidate who best matches your own personal views and mindset.
In the future, one of these five politicians will be working to promote the interests of Jefferson County in the House of Representatives...who do you want speaking for you?