Republicans Prioritize Pandemic in District 72 race

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY AUG 6, 2020

Republicans view state House District 72 as one of the rare pickup opportunities in the Florida Legislature during a cycle when the party plays defense up and down the ballot. But first, the party must select a nominee. Sarasota Charter Review member Donna Barcomb, Naval reservist Fiona McFarland and attorney Jason Miller all face off in the Aug. 18 Republican primary, and have already turned the contest into a marquis match.

Barcomb, who previously served on the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board, has run on a record of long ties to the community. Public education and water quality provide essential planks to her platform, and she hopes to see continued investment in Everglades restoration, natural waterways filtration and research into mitigating red tide. While the revenue loss associated with the COVID-19 pandemic may mean tight budgeting next year, Barcomb said there’s compelling reasons to fight for this region. “Being intimately knowledgeable about your community provides great knowledge to the residents,” she said. “I will do everything I can to continue to provide services and revenue to our community.”

For McFarland, she wants to follow in the footsteps of Gov. Ron DeSantis when it comes to ushering in the next generation of Republican leadership for Florida. “It strikes me as refreshing and different from what we have seen in Washington, D.C.,” she said. McFarland believes her naval background better prepares her for the rapidly changing situating facing lawmakers as the pandemic continues. The COVID-19 crisis shows that more important than any particular agenda item, the key attribute for lawmakers in the immediate future will be the ability to adapt and toss out preconceived expectations of what lies ahead. “Our leaders have had to assess the situation and quickly find a solution,” she said.

Miller, who also ran for this seat in 2018, said his entire candidacy reshaped as the pandemic unfolded. He no longer solicits outside donations, for one. “I don’t want to take any spare change from District 72 just to do a flyer,” he said. The husband to a school teacher, he’s concerned campus faculty are now being asked to take risks associated with a school opening. It startled him a Manatee school, Samoset Elementary, sent teachers home after one day of work because a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. But he also thinks the state desire to have schools open is a critical if aspirational goal. “I understand why we need the economy opening up,” he said, “but we have to somehow make it a managed risk.”

Miller has stayed out of the fray of negative mailers now marring dialogue in House District 72, for which he’s grateful. He’s focused on social media campaigning, convening with voters from his couch over Facebook. He’s still got a list of infrastructure, water quality and education priorities listed on his website, but acknowledges none of it matters until the pandemic gets under control.

McFarland, who has been hit for a lack of experience and for being a newcomer to the district, said she views her youth as an investment in the future, for the Republican party as well as the region. She expects dealing with the pandemic to be a defining challenge for her generation of leadership, and said it’s critical leaders take the 40-year view on moving the community into the future without its core assets being compromised irreparably now.

Barcomb maintains its critical Sarasota be represented by someone who knows the area's greatest needs, whether that’s workforce housing or school funding. She agreed with DeSantis and the Senate last Session that the Sadowski Trust needed full funded to ensure housing resources, and wants to take the same priorities to the House. “We shouldn’t call it affordable housing,” she said. “I’m very committed to developing workforce housing in Sarasota.

Pictured: Fiona McFarland (top left), Donna Barcomb (top right), Jason Miller (bottom)

« View The Thursday Aug 6, 2020 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Gregory Forms Committee to Fight Amendment 2

Gregory Forms Committee to Fight Amendment 2

Jacob Ogles | Sep 24, 2020

Where The Votes Are: Pandemic Drives Voters To The Mail

Where The Votes Are: Pandemic Drives Voters To The Mail

Jacob Ogles | Sep 3, 2020

Battie, Shaw Describe Different Plans For District 1

Battie, Shaw Describe Different Plans For District 1

Jacob Ogles | Aug 27, 2020

Turner, Alpert Bring Past Successes to November Face-off

Turner, Alpert Bring Past Successes to November Face-off

Jacob Ogles | Aug 24, 2020