Perry C. McGriff Jr., a former mayor-commissioner of Gainesville and state representative, announced on Tuesday afternoon his campaign to run for Florida Senate District 14.
The 72-year-old Democrat will be challenging Steve Oelrich, the current Republican state senator for District 14 who is up for reelection in November.
"Making the decision to run wasn't easy," McGriff told a crowd of about 60 people in front of his alma mater, Gainesville High School.
He cited his devotion to the city of Gainesville and his disappointment with the current legislature's failed policies toward the economy, education and the environment as reasons for his campaign.
"Floridians are fed up," McGriff said. "What I bring is a common-sense approach to the problems facing our state."
In his speech, McGriff criticized Oelrich's support of Senate Bill 6, which will tie teacher pay directly to student performance. He also criticized the incumbent's support of off-shore drilling.
"It should not take a disaster to force good judgment," he said, referring to the state's response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
If elected, McGriff said he will focus on how the oil spill will influence the state's $56 billion tourism industry, which is crucial because it provides a tax base that funds education, he said.
McGriff, who is a board member for the Cade Museum of Innovation and Invention, also said state leaders need to focus on revenue growth to make Florida the new hub of innovation in high-tech achievement.
"Every dollar we spend in the classroom is an investment in a job market based on creativity and ingenuity," he said.