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Thursday, December 02, 2021

Former Senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez to speak on civic engagement Oct. 26

Screenshot of the Facebook event page for Nelson and Martinez discussion

Former U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez will speak to the UF community at a virtual event next week. 

The free, hourlong civic engagement event, hosted by UF’s Accent Speakers Bureau, the Bob Graham Center for Public Service and Chomp the Vote, is at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26. Students must register with their UFL emails by noon that day.

The two former Florida senators will speak about the general election, but will not address the current political climate or advocate on behalf of either major party candidate, according to the webpage.

“It will be a civil conversation between the two former Florida Senators who will also address other ways of getting involved and remaining aware of the issues facing our nation and state,” according to the event page.

The virtual conversation will be moderated by Matthew Jacobs, director of the Bob Graham Center. The senators will not be paid, Steven Wolf, chairman of Accent, wrote in an email.

“I think this show will help those who may still be on the fence about voting realize how much of an impact their say on this election will have,” Wolf wrote.

Nelson, a UF alum, is a Democrat who served in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2019. He lost his 2018 reelection bid to Rick Scott, a Republican and former Florida governor. Nelson has endorsed Joe Biden for president.

In 2018, Nelson spoke at UF alongside Sen. Cory Booker and reminded students on the importance of voting. He visited campus again in July for a discussion on political division in Library East with author Jon Meacham. 

Martinez is a Republican who served in the Senate from 2005 to 2009 and chaired the Republican Party from 2006 to 2007. He resigned in 2009.

His seat is currently filled by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. Martinez has not announced an endorsement for this year. He refused to support President Donald Trump in 2016, but has not publicly committed to a candidate this year.

The event is the latest in a series of speaker events hosted by Accent. Earlier this semester, it hosted events featuring lawyer and women’s rights activist Anita Hill and singer-songwriter Prince Royce.

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Correction: This article was updated to reflect that Matthew Jacobs, director of the Bob Graham Center, will be moderating the virtual conversation. A previous version reported otherwise.

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