With House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale facing term limits in 2014, a new Democratic candidate filed paperwork to launch a bid to replace him in representing parts of Broward County.
Teacher and community activist Eric Fowler earlier this month announced his bid for the Florida House seat. Fowler joins Levoyd Williams, who serves on the Lauderdale Lakes City Commission, and Jimmy "O Glory'' Witherspoon, a minister who is also a high school adviser and who made a bid for the Fort Lauderdale City Commission in 2008, in the Democratic primary. There are currently no Republicans seeking their partys nomination in the race.
Fowler, who is running for office for the first time, spoke to Sunshine State News on Monday, and said he hopes to make a difference by inserting some common sense in Tallahassee.
We dont have people who have common sense, common decency and common honesty in public office, Fowler said.
He said his background as a teacher and helping the community will be useful if he is elected. Fowler has been active with the NAACP, the Urban League, the Boys and Girls Clubs and other community groups. In high school, he was active with the Young Democrats.
Most of my life has been spent in education, Fowler said. Ive always been a public servant, always.
Fowler said he hopes to focus on education, economic development, taxes and youth and senior services if he is elected.
Public education is the foundation of our democracy, Fowler said. He said he opposes further cuts to public schools and said he is opposed to giving public funds to private companies to run schools. But, he added he supports public-private partnerships in education, saying working with businesses is a tested means of better preparing students for the workforce.
While he said he backs increased high-speed rail projects in South Florida, he claims the focus of economic development should be on creating a healthy business climate. Government does not have a magic wand, Fowler told Sunshine State News. Government cannot create jobs. Government can only create an environment to create jobs.
Fowler also plans to focus on taxes. Noting Gov. Rick Scott traveled around the state in the Its Your Money tour, Fowler said there was more to the equation. Its your money but its your community, he said. We have to look at a tax system that is fair for all, not just for some.
Calling himself a fan of Claude Pepper, who served Florida in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, Fowler said youth and senior programs needed more funding.
Whoever emerges in the Democratic primary in this contest should be heading to Tallahassee. This is one of the bluest districts in the state, with 68 percent of voters belonging to the Democratic Party, while only 14 percent are registered Republicans. Back in 2010, Alex Sink cruised in this district, taking 81 percent of the vote; Rick Scott could muster only 18 percent.