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Salzman Pledges Full-Time Effort For All of District 1

Photo courtesy of Michelle Salzman

The next representative of Florida House District 1 will be a female, holding elected office for the first time. Franscine Mathis is the Democratic nominee. The focus today is on the Republican candidate Michelle Salzman.

For Salzman, the General Election has been about keeping the momentum gained by her big Primary Election victory over Republican incumbent Mike Hill.

“I wouldn’t call it an upset. I would certainly call it a victory for Northwest Florida,” proclaimed Salzman after the primary.

Salzman’s first run for political office has been boosted by significant financial support. She was able to match Hill with over $80,000 raised for the primary, and has added nearly $100,000 since.

Although, she has no past experience for comparison, she acknowledges 2020 has been a most unusual election year. Initially, it was hampered by the coronavirus pandemic. Then there was Hurricane Sally.

“Sally unleased up to 30 inches of rain on the Florida Panhandle, four months of rain in four hours,” states Salzman in a post-hurricane video from her Facebook page. One of just a few postings” since the primary, it touts her team’s participation in hurricane response and recovery efforts and her own pre-election collaboration with state and local leadership.

“Every day, I receive phone calls from all over the state, checking on our community, from state representatives, to the emergency response teams to the governor’s office,” she stated. “I worked in partnership with our county commissioners, other local leaders, and our senator.”

On the issue of the Pensacola Bay Bridge and the damage caused by contractor Skanska’s runaway barges, Salzman believes the company’s response should have a bearing on the awarding of future state contracts.

“We are hoping that we can, obviously, get them to do a better job at being responsive,” she said, also noting the company’s responsibility for long-term local impacts.

“And, there’s a lot of liability that lies in what has happened, not just for the lack of having that bridge, but also for the small businesses and business owners and families that can’t go to and from downtown Pensacola to Gulf Breeze, so easily now.”

Coincidentally, Salzman has stated from the beginning of her campaign that, if elected, infrastructure will be one of her main priorities.

“And so many people told me nobody wants to hear about that; that’s not exciting,” she stated. And, then when I’m knocking doors, everybody is like, ‘Oh my gosh, we need better roads. We need this construction to be done better.’ So, I have made that promise to focus on that.  

Salzman says voters’ number one concern is safety.

“You know, they want to feel safe in their homes, whether it be Second Amendment rights, whether it be having access to the police, not defunding the police; and even on the other side, about having police not be overly aggressive,” she explained. “I think it’s just about safety. They want their children to be safe. They want to feel safe.”

Credit Photo courtesy of Michelle Salzman
Florida House District 1 Republican candidate Michelle Salzman, courting support from Pensacola Police officers.

According to Salzman, the proposed shifting of some police funds toward non-policing social services highlights one key difference between her and her Democratic opponent. 

“While I understand that we have a need for improvement, as we do in all organizations and business structures, we don’t need to take money away from the police departments,” said Salzman as she suggested the need to find better ways to fund social programs and do the better training being recommended.

“The problem with the community isn’t the police department. The problem is all these pockets of poverty and leaving them high and dry and expect them to be able to fend for themselves,” she declared.

Asked whether voters in such underserved communities in District 1 could count on her not to forget them, Salzman’s response was ‘absolutely.’

She says she plans to be a full-time representative and has developed a plan for staying connected to the community.

“I have a form you can fill out. I actually sent a mailer to all of the households in our district that asks them to give me feedback on what they would like to see me work on in Tallahassee,” she said of her new online communication tool, D1Matters.com.  “Basically, it’s asking them what they want me to focus on in Tallahassee for funding and bill-writing.”

Moving forward, there are also plans regular town hall meetings in the district.

In the countdown to the General Election, now two weeks away, Salzman is feeling confident and rightly so, as a Republican candidate in a Republican-majority district with over $200,000 in her campaign war chest.

“It would be an unprecedented event if a Democrat were to take the seat,” she conceded. “But, we should never take advantage of that.”

That’s why she says she’s spent just as much on marketing to reach Democratic and Independent voters, who together have a slight 51% to 46.6% edge over Republicans in the district.

“I think it’s important that they hear from me. I think that them knowing that I care about all peoples’ issues, not just Republican issues. It’s critical to being a real representative of the people,” said Salzman, pledging to respect all voters and assuring all of their voices will be heard.

For more on the Florida House District 1 race between Michelle Salzman and Democrat Franscine Mathis, as well as other election profiles, go to our website, wuwf.org.

Sandra Averhart has been News Director at WUWF since 1996. Her first job in broadcasting was with (then) Pensacola radio station WOWW107-FM, where she worked 11 years. Sandra, who is a native of Pensacola, earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida State University.