Mel Yepes: What's at stake in 2014 elections


Published: Monday, October 21, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 7:08 p.m.

Next year is a special time for Floridians; we will be electing a governor, attorney general, chief financial officer and commissioner of agriculture. The current administration has done an extraordinary job bringing jobs to the Sunshine State, protecting the children of Florida from harmful synthetic drugs and making sure that Florida's environment continues its legacy of fresh farming. Our state's diversity is making us a prime destination for families and businesses alike.

There is one concern that we should all keep in mind heading into next year's election: the lieutenant governor. Gov. Rick Scott has remained quiet in his quest to announce his running mate. As the search continues, we should bear in mind the importance of what's at stake. Floridians will see one of the most competitive elections in our state's history. With this being said, Gov. Scott cannot afford to get his education policy wrong. As Scott has taken great strides helping Floridians navigate the difficulties after the extreme budget cuts caused by the recession, there is still a lot of work to be done.

As the debate for Common Core ensues, Floridians have the opportunity to engage in this discussion. Families should enter this debate, voice their concerns and let their elected leaders know how passionately this topic affects them. The students of Florida, from Pensacola to Miami and everywhere in between, deserve the very best education. As a state, we need to put our very best foot forward in making this a reality.

Regardless of your opinion of Rick Scott, he has followed up on his campaign promises. In 2010, Scott promised jobs and an improved economy during a time when Florida was still trapped in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Unemployment went from second highest in the nation to just 7 percent, well below the national average.

In 2013, he continues to deliver on his promise. Just recently, Amazon announced an agreement to partner in the Tampa Bay area, another historic move in the right direction. His priority should remain committed to bringing jobs to Florida.

In 2014, Scott should select a lieutenant governor who is equally committed to making Florida the greatest state in the union but have a special commitment to education. A lieutenant governor should understand Florida, its history, background and people. A person with experience, who knows the issues in Florida's major urban areas such as Jacksonville, Miami and Orlando. All three of these areas are incredibly different from one another, and the citizens all have different needs.

The administration needs an individual with diversity, a person who can engage a new fold of young voters while also having the experience of a more seasoned citizen. We cannot let education just become a talking point, it needs to be the point.

This is Florida's opportunity to shine. Let's make sure that in 2014, Gov. Scott gets it right.

Mel Yepes lives in Gainesville.

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