Florida House District 84 is a swing district that could vote either red or blue in the Nov. 8 election, both candidates running for the seat representing St. Lucie County agreed.
Democrspant Forest Blspannton is challenging one-term Rep. Dspannspan Trspanbulsy to represent the district, which was blue four years ago before turning red two years ago.
“It just didn’t seem right to me that this seat would go unopposed by the Republican incumbent,” Blanton said, adding that former Rep. Delores Hogan-Johnson urged him to run against Trabulsy.
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Trspanbulsy wspans span politicspanl newcomer when she was elected in 2020.
“My eyes, of course, have been completely opened,” she said. “I love what I’m doing. … I’m just not finished yet. I’ve started on some really great legislation with some initiatives that I feel are very near and dear to my heart.”
In 2018, Blanton retired from Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County after 35 years and moved to Fort Pierce, where he’d been visiting on weekends since buying his Indian River Drive home in 2007.
He got involved with the Environmental Coalition of Broward County in the 1980s. As president of his homeowners association, he led an unsuccessful suit to stop a landfill. After that, he was a Broward County Planning & Zoning Board member for 12 years and a Southwest Ranches Town Council member for four years.
He ran for District 84 in 2018 but lost the Democratic primary to Hogan-Johnson.
He supports a broad range of civil rights and the recreational use of marijuana. He opposes for-profit prisons and thinks the legal system should focus on the most dangerous criminals. He criticized Trabulsy for her political partisanship.
“I look at every issue independently,” he said. “I evaluate every issue on its strengths and weaknesses. If Republicans have a better idea or a better program, I’m fine with that.”
Trabulsy is a Tampa native who grew up near Atlanta and moved to Fort Pierce in 1991.
She helped pass a bill for the New Worlds Respanding Initispantive, a free book and reading program for eligible kids in grades K-5. Over 110,000 students have participated since it launched in December.
She wants to require adults who work with children, including summer camp counselors, to pass a Level 2 background check, which uses a national registry. After a bill aimed at doing that stalled in the Legislature, she said she continued to work on it by building relationships through meetings and getting appointed to committees.
Some of her accolades include:
- Governor-appointed to Career Source Florida Board
- Speaker-appointed to the Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys
- Named Legislator of the Year by the Children’s Home Society
- Awarded Children’s Champion by Nemours Children’s Health
Why are you the better candidate?
Blanton: “I just don’t think she’s representing the people of St. Lucie County properly. She’s basically voting straight Republican voting platform, and I’m opposed to almost all those issues.”
Trabulsy: She cited her voting record, community involvement and long-standing presence in the area. “He doesn’t have a presence in our community at all,” she said. “I think that should show for something.”
The issue: Property insurance
Blanton: The Legislature must reduce insurance fraud and abuse to make Florida a more attractive market for companies.
Trabulsy: The Legislature has addressed the issue for two consecutive years, including approving grants to harden homes against storms. “Insurance companies are failing because they don’t have money in reserves to take care of all the claims.”
The issue: Affordable housing
Blanton: He favors subsidies or inducements for private developers to create affordable housing instead of more public housing. “We need to create jobs for people. We need to keep the economy going. But I want to see development that actually helps the people who are here now.” He opposes developing huge swaths of farmland or vacant land for a housing complex for 10,000 to 20,000 people.
Trabulsy: The key is to control growth, and local governments can help. She said she helped establish the Hometown Heroes Housing Program, which offers up to $25,000 toward a down payment and closing costs. She said she helped create a $50,000 homestead exemption for teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and others.
The issue: Indian River Lagoon
Blanton: He wants to work on septic systems. “We need to subsidize and encourage the expansion of sewer systems, particularly involving areas near water. … We need to break the strangle lock that Big Sugar and big agriculture has got on the Legislature.”
Trabulsy: She supports septic-to-sewer conversions and moving the wastewater treatment plant off Hutchinson Island. “It’s going to be a cost to (residents) to convert, but the cost to our beautiful state and our beautiful waterway is much higher if they don’t.”
The issue: Abortion
Blanton: He supports abortion rights. “People should be able to do with their bodies what they think, if it doesn’t harm anyone else or break the law.”
Trabulsy: She’s anti-abortion but thinks “we have to look at a root problem,” citing 48,000 abortions in Florida this year. “What can we do better to prevent unwanted pregnancies?” She said the key is meeting age groups where they are, whether that be access to birth control or education about other options.
The issue: Guns
Blanton: “I’m definitely in favor of doing more to promote gun safety, but I’m probably not as liberal as some folks might be.” He’s moderate on weapons, but he wants to close gun loopholes. “I’m not in favor of restricting high-capacity magazines. I’m not in favor of banning particular styles of guns just because they look a certain way. I am in favor, however, of background checks. We need to ensure that people who are buying or acquiring guns are responsible and can own them safely.”
Trabulsy: She supports the Second Amendment and thinks no more legislation is needed. “People who have guns have an obligation to be responsible gun owners.”
Campaign finances as of Aug. 26
Blanton: He had spent $12,548 of his $13,029, which included $10,000 of his own money and donations mostly from individuals giving hundreds of dollars.
Trabulsy: She had spent $8,044 of her $164,492, which included many donations from political actions committees giving thousands of dollars, plus $27,382 in-kind. PACs included Friends of Dana Trabulsy;First Coast Conservatives, Strong Leadership, Sun Coast Patriots, Florida Insurance Council, A Stronger Florida, Florida Operators Association and the Florida Physical Therapy Association.
Nov. 8 general election
- Voters: All registered voters who live in Fort Pierce and unincorporated St. Lucie County.
- Salary: $29,697 plus per diems of $152 per day for up to 60 days
- Term: Two years, capped at no more than four consecutive terms