Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify an endorsement.
In honor of the beginning of early voting today, The Alligator is releasing its endorsements for elected office. The candidates were chosen based on their clean and honorable track records of representing Florida, its districts and its counties.
Andrew Gillum’s perspective growing up in borderline poverty puts him at an advantage in understanding how to care for Florida’s most vulnerable. He favors expanding Medicaid, raising the corporate tax rate, increasing education spending and legalizing recreational marijuana. He is more appropriate for the position than his opponent Ron DeSantis, who has a troubled history with race issues, voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, opposes sensible gun control and who would likely help divert money away from public schools and allocate it to charter schools.
Bill Nelson has served honorably as a U.S. senator from Florida for the last 18 years. Nelson has consistently defended Florida’s environment, helping to negotiate legislation that bans offshore oil drilling that would tarnish Florida’s coast and then holding the line in defense of that legislation. He voted in favor of the ACA and for the stimulus package that reduced the effects of the economic collapse. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, in contrast, has been a poor steward of Florida’s coastline with his inaction on harmful algal blooms and has a lengthy list of troubles with personal enrichment from his time as governor.
U.S. House of Representatives District 3
Yvonne Hayes Hinson’s support for teacher salary increases and for helping students living with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protection show that she will do Florida justice in the House. Incumbent Ted Yoho, in contrast, has an A rating from the National Rifle Association. While he has more experience in this office, Hinson would offer more inclusivity in the district if elected. She was endorsed by the African American Accountability Alliance of Alachua County.
State Senate District 8
Dr. Kayser Enneking’s perspective from treating needy patients contrasts her opponent, Keith Perry’s, whose platform on health can be taken from his suggestion that “we should be investing in medical schools to ... create the best doctors possible.” This ignores the health care struggles that Florida residents face.
State Representative District 10
Ronald Williams’ fledgling plan to reform the way Florida handles juvenile criminal justice will benefit District 10. We endorse Williams over Chuck Brannan, who prioritizes conservative fiscal policy and preservation of Florida’s lakes.
State Representative District 21
Jason Haeseler’s positions on health care and education make him better suited for the position than Chuck Clemons. Haeseler supports expanding Medicare accessibility to all Florida residents. Haeseler, while a supporter of the Second Amendment, also supports more reasonable gun control laws.
Alachua County Commission District 2
Scott Costello has been heavily involved with philanthropy and will focus on paying public servants like teachers a more competitive wage. We endorse him over Marihelen Wheeler, who does not seem as politically adept despite favoring increasing security and creating a better educational environment.
Alachua County School Board District 3
Incumbent Gunnar Paulson’s track record of raising teacher salaries earns him our endorsement over April Barefoot Tisher.
Craig DeThomasis will serve as a well-qualified county judge, having extensive experience as both a practitioner and teacher of the law. We endorse him over Meshon Rawls, although both UF Levin College of Law graduates would be great for the position.
The Alligator will publish a subsequent editorial discussing our endorsements of Florida constitutional amendments in Wednesday’s issue.
Clarification: The County Commission does not vote on teacher salaries. Costello earned The Alligator's endorsement for his experience starting both a business and a charity to benefit children which has donated over $500,000 so far.