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The Race For Florida House District 2 - Alex Andrade

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The race for the open seat in Florida House District 2 will be decided on Primary Day. The seat is open because the incumbent, Frank White, is running for state Attorney General and is not seeking a second term. The race will be decided in the primary because there are no Democrats or Independents running, just two Republicans: Alex Andrade and Greg Merk.

Andrade was born in the Cayman Islands and spent some of his childhood in Jamaica before his family came to the United States. "I immigrated to the United States legally when I was very young, and Florida has been very welcoming to my family. I've been very blessed to live in this state."

Andrade’s family started a business manufacturing hurricane shutters in the Miami area just after Hurricane Andrew. He attended the University of Florida on a Bright Futures scholarship. It was in school where he got his first taste of public service in Governor Scott’s administration. "I was called a 'Gubernatorial Fellow.' So I got to work on special projects my last year in law school. I was stationed in the executive office of the Department of Transportation. While there, I helped pass a 9.7 billion dollar budget, and I fought to cut government waste."

If he makes it to Tallahassee, Andrade says he’ll work to make sure the needs of the Panhandle are being addressed along with the larger metro areas of South Florida. "Miami might be competing with South America, but northwest Florida is competing with Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia. I have been telling everyone around the state that it's a travesty that we are the only state in the country with a commercial lease tax. So if you're a business looking to relocate between Pensacola and Mobile, and you want to rent your shop before you own it, you will have to pay close to six percent in sales tax if you want to live in Pensacola. That’s ridiculous to me, it's a competitive disadvantage (and) I think we have to work to continue to it drive down. Governor Scott came into office eight years ago promising to work towards (lowering that tax). And he has, he started reducing that tax. But, we have to continue cutting that as much as possible."

He also says protecting and supporting the tourism industry is one key to the district’s financial health. "We have to make sure that our beaches are clean, we have to make sure that our water is safe, we have to make sure that our fisheries aren't collapsing, we have to make sure that people understand that they can come here and enjoy not just our beach, but also our historic downtown. You know, we have this beautiful downtown, and it's our job to make sure that we have the infrastructure improvements, the pedestrian and bike safety improvements necessary to make sure that everyone who comes here can enjoy it safely."

And it’s not all about tourism. With the large military presence in the region, Andrade says making sure there are opportunities for military families to live in the area must be a priority. "When the Secretary of the Navy issues a report and says 'If you want to prevent base realignment and closure in your area, you need to make sure you're competitive on opportunities for military spouses in your community and your education system needs to be top notch, we have to take that seriously. We have to make sure that our high school students know they don't just have to go to college to get a job. Our education system needs to be geared towards every single child and every single opportunity possible. It's our job in the state to start (by first) giving power back to school boards and counties, but (secondly) highlight the fact that the end-all and be-all for a lot of these students doesn't have to be college, doesn't have to be going to college and learn something they don't care about, to take (on) debt to get that degree, when they can start four years earlier in a career that they love, and support a family on that the rest of their life."

If we are not doing the best possible job of reincorporating people into society, we are not holding up our statements as conservatives.

On this year’s ballot, there are 13 constitution amendments being proposed. One that is getting a lot of local conversation is Amendment Four which would restore a felon’s rights after they have served their sentence. "Recidivism in Florida costs the taxpayers a significant amount of money. We release prisoners every year and we expect over 30 percent of them back within three years and 60 percent within six. The state spends 2 billion dollars housing inmates, and that doesn't include the 51 million dollars Escambia County spends on its jail. We have to consider it a conservative principle to start focusing on evidence-based ways to reduce recidivism. (That means) making sure there are educational opportunities, making sure there are workforce training opportunities, making sure there are opportunities to channel anger and learn how to communicate better. And making sure that we do start revising our criminal justice system. As far as restoration of rights goes, I believe it is the responsibility of the state to reincorporate people who have paid their debt to society as quickly as possible. If we are not doing the best possible job of reincorporating people into society, we are not holding up our statements as conservatives."

In the end, Andrade says the election is about what he can take back from Tallahassee and bring back to the district. "It's my job to know what the mayors of Gulf Breeze and Pensacola need from me. It's my job to know what the city council people from Pensacola and Gulf Breeze need from me and it's my job to know what the county commissioners from both Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties need from me to do my job in Tallahassee to the best of my ability. I'm not going to be going over there to have personal successes. I'm going to go over there to make those people back here shine."

Alex Andrade is running in the August 28 Republican primary for the Florida House of Representatives seat in District 2. His opponent is Republican Greg Merk.  It is an open primary since there are no Democrats or independents running, so anyone, regardless of party affiliation, can vote in the primary as long as they live in the district.