Republican voters in Florida House District 2 will choose between the incumbent representative and a two-time congressional candidate in the primary election on August 18. Today we look at the incumbent, Alex Andrade.
Since being elected to represent Florida’s second district two years ago, Alex Andrade says he is often asked what surprised him about the job. “If I didn’t know what the job entailed. I wouldn’t have run in the first place. So there weren’t too many surprises as far as the job itself.”
Andrade is running for re-election for another term in the Florida house. He is facing a challenger for the Republican nomination in the upcoming primary and, unlike two years ago, there will be a Democratic candidate running for the post in November. He says he has been an effective representative for Northwest Florida.
“If you actually look at my body of work, I’m one of the most conservative and one of the most effective legislators in Tallahassee right now. I passed the most significant military family bill in a decade in my first (legislative session), and in my second (session) I passed a bill that Governor DeSantis recently signed that is going to save the state millions upon millions of dollars every single year going forward, and expand mental health services in the process.”
The seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic was becoming clear as this year's legislative session was winding down. Andrade says the legislature was able to set aside funds from the federal government to try and make up for the anticipated loss of sales tax revenue, and then he came home and worked on constituents’ issues.
“My whole job became making sure my constituents were taken care of from every different aspect that the pandemic caused. That included hundreds of constituents that lost their jobs during the statewide shut down, that included every single small business owner who was affected by these shut downs. There are landlords who still haven’t been able to collect rent because of some of the responses from the state. So, the main concern has just been making sure that constituents are informed of what the government is doing."
"The focus on the front end for the government is protecting against that. And then the focus on the back end for someone like me who is not in the executive branch of Florida government, I’m a legislator, is making sure that my constituents have the resources and the information they need to ride out what the government has to do to make sure that Floridians are kept healthy and safe.”
The pandemic also revealed a weakness in the state’s unemployment system. Andrade says the state’s unemployment web site couldn’t handle the transition from record low unemployment to 1.5 million people needing assistance practically overnight. He says, as a legislator, his job was to make sure his office helped people get the money they were entitled to.
“Every time a constituent has reached out to us who had difficulty accessing this web site, difficulty with the app that was created afterwards, difficulty with the paper applications, we (have worked) from our legislative office to actually make sure they are getting the responses they need.”
Another major question facing the state during the pandemic is should school be open to in person learning for students. Andrade says yes.
“I think students need to get back to school. We have a lot of people, especially in impoverished communities, who absolutely need to be in classrooms. To be learning. Because they’ve been out of school for so many months. They are going to be missing milestones in their educational process if we cannot get them educated and get them back in classrooms as soon as possible. While there’s obviously the safety component, at some point we have to start prioritizing the fact that getting kids educated, and getting kids progressing through our system before they turn 18 is far more important than simple data and metrics.”
Beyond the effects of the pandemic, Andrade feels one of the priorities for the region should be the environment.
“District 2 covers Escambia County south of I-10 plus Gulf Breeze. So we have the whole coastline, we have Pensacola Bay, we have the bayous that feed into Pensacola Bay, so our environment is always going to be a critical issue for this district. Making sure that we have funds, especially from the state, to get commercial corridors off of septic tanks, get them switched to sewer. Making sure that our legacy pollution here in Escambia County, because we do have legacy heavy industry here, making sure that any kind of pollution caused by our creosote treatment facilities back in the day are being remediated and addressed still is always going to be a concern whether we are dealing with a pandemic or not.”
Andrade would also like to see young people who grew up in the Pensacola region stay or return here. He says the pandemic has shown that people in larger cities can do their jobs just about anywhere with the right internet connection.
“So making sure we have the internet infrastructure available so that these young people can actually start their families and careers here in Pensacola is going to be a huge focus for us going forward. Because if you can choose where you live while you work with whatever career you’re pursuing, why wouldn’t you want to live next to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and this incredible, growing downtown.”
To sum up, Andrade makes his case for reelection by pointing to his record. “There’s a reason that Governor DeSantis has endorsed me for re-election. There’s a reason that Congressman Gaetz has endorsed me for re-election. And every police organization and firefighter organization, Florida Right to Life and down the line has endorsed me for re-election. It’s because while I have not grabbed too many headlines in the past two years, it’s because I’ve been spending all of my time working my tail off for this community.”
Alex Andrade is running for re-election for the Florida House seat in District 2. We will speak with his primary opponent, Cris Dosev, tomorrow. The winner of the August 18 primary will face the Democratic candidate Diane Krummel in November.