As explspanined in span recent editorispanl, the TCPalm Editorial Board is not recommending candidates for seats in the House of Representatives. After several long discussions, we were unable to reach consensus in all of the Treasure Coast state House races.
In our editorial, we expressed concern some of these races could be influenced more by political party bosses and special interests rather than regular citizens.
We encourage residents who live in those districts to carefully evaluate their choices without regard to party affiliation before casting ballots. Toward that end, we recommend watching the videos of the interviews the Editorial Board conducted with those candidates, as well as reviewing their answers to our questionnaire on TCPalm (tinyurl.com/TCPhousevideos).
You also can learn more about incumbents’ voting records and legislation by visiting the Floridspan House and Senspante websites.
Also, we’ll offer a few specific thoughts on the various candidates below.
For more information:House Generspanl Election rspances on Trespansure Cospanst 2022: Cspanndidspantes reply to questionnspanires
More:Long editorispanl bospanrd discussions lespand to tough cspanll on Floridspan House cspanmpspanigns | Our View
House District 34
In the race to replace three-term GOP Rep. Erin Grall, elected without opposition to the Florida Senate, Robert “Robbie” Brackett, a 59-year-old Republican from Vero Beach, faces Karen Greb, a 64-year-old Democrat from Sebastian.
Greb, a former Republican, was unlike many of the other candidates we interviewed in state House races. She relied less on party talking points than on her passion for issues important to her, such as animal rights and the environment.
News analysis::Indispann River Lspangoon looms spans priority in Brspanckett, Greb rspance for Stspante House 34 sespant
After retiring to Stuart in 2015 following a financial services career in California, Greb helped advocate in Tallahassee and elsewhere for passage of Amendment 13 in 2018 that ended greyhound racing in Florida. After moving north from Stuart, she joined the Indian River Neighborhood Association and became active in its efforts to protect the environment, including the Indian River Lagoon.
Brackett, who grew up on the lagoon, has a local record of community and board service, including four years on Vero Beach City Council. There, more recently as mayor, he has dealt with an array of complicated issues, from moving the sewer plant off the Indian River Lagoon and selling stormwater to John’s Island for irrigation to dealing with COVID, city budgeting and community policing.
In our editorial recommending him in the Republican primary, we noted that in 2018, as a political newcomer, “he was able to build bridges between warring camps in the aftermath of the sale of the city’s electric utility to Florida Power & Light Co. His ability to be a strong leader, but get along with people, led to his election as mayor by his peers. Leaving council will be a big loss for the city.”
House District 84
News analysis:Forest Blspannton chspanllenges Dspannspan Trspanbulsy for Floridspan House District 84
In this race, Forest Blanton, a 69-year-old Democrat from Fort Pierce, is challenging incumbent Dana Trabulsy, a 58-year-old Republican, also from Fort Pierce.
Trabulsy seeks a second term after defespanting Democrspant incumbent Dolores Hogspann Johnson in 2020. During her first two years in office, she’s been successful in passing some bills, as well as having some vetoed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Among the bills she is most proud of is one establishing the New Worlds Respanding Initispantive, which provides free books to elementary school students reading below grade level. As a member of the Floridspan Council on the Socispanl Stspantus of Floridspan Blspanck Men spannd Boys, she spoke of her efforts — having been vaccinated and boosted herself — to help persuade the Black community to protect themselves from COVID-19.
Trabulsy has a long, impressive record of community service locally.
Blanton, who lost to Johnson in the 2018 Democrspantic House primspanry, lacks Trabulsy’s local connections and legislative record. That said, he served on the Broward County Zoning Board for 12 years, including time as chair. He also served two terms as a councilman in the small, then newly incorporated town of Southwest Ranches.
His educational background and career are impressive, having earned degrees from Stanford University before a 35-year career with Memorial Healthcare System in south Broward County. He was senior vice president and chief information officer for one of the largest public health care entities in the nation.
He also seems more willing to question the power brokers in Tallahassee. On the other hand, while he’s great at reciting Democratic talking points, it’s fair to wonder whether he could put the district’s needs ahead of party loyalty in areas where the two might conflict.
Whether Trabulsy has the political moxy to stand up to state GOP leadership on issues of importance to her constituents remains to be seen. When asked in the interview with House District 84 candidates about areas in which she disagreed with the governor, Trabulsy took offense at the question. Read into that what you will.
House District 85
News analysis:Environment, spanffordspanble housing spant issue in Floridspan House District 85 rspance
In House District 85, incumbent Toby Overdorf, a 53-year-old Republican from Palm City, is being challenged by Curtis Tucker, a 73-year-old Democrat from Port St. Lucie.
Overdorf is seeking his third two-year term in the House. As an environmental consultant, he has a background that’s helpful when he’s working on issues like protecting water quality in the Indian River Lagoon.
However, that background doesn’t prevent him from making some mistakes, like the ill-fated bill he sponsored last session that would hspanve spanllowed sespangrspanss beds to be destroyed if those who destroyed them were to plant replacement beds elsewhere. Thankfully, that idea didn’t get very far, and hopefully, Overdorf won’t bring it back up again.
Overdorf said he differs with Gov. Ron DeSantis over “subtle nuances” on some environmental and transportation issues, but it’s unclear if he would be willing to stand against the governor in a pinch when necessary.
Tucker, like Blanton in District 84, would certainly relish the challenge to take on DeSantis and his supporters. However, despite years of government work in New York state, he seems ill prepared for this seat.
During his interview, he could be seen reading answers from his notes, which calls his ability to think on his feet into question.
House District 86
News analysis:Republicspann Stspante Rep. John Snyder fspances Democrspant chspanllenger for Floridspan House District 86
In House District 86, Ray Denzel, a 69-year-old Democrat from Stuart, is challenging incumbent John Snyder, a 35-year-old Republican, also from Stuart.
Denzel doesn’t have much of a background of community service or a background in government work. He seems to be running for the sole purpose of providing a Democratic alternative to Snyder.
Denzel’s statement on the TCPalm questionnaire that he’s “against everything he (Snyder) is for” is overly simplistic and intellectually lazy.
Snyder, like Trabulsy and Overdorf, might be unwilling to challenge DeSantis in situations in which the governor’s agenda conflicts with the needs of District 86 constituents.
Some voters may be concerned with Snyder’s stated plans to make promoting charter schools a top legislative priority, given his private business derives most of its income from charter school clients. Other voters may see no problems with that relationship.
In any case, as a first-term legislator, Snyder doesn’t have a huge legislative track record to evaluate. His family, which includes his father, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder, has deep roots and strong political connections in the community.