The Florida Patriot
SWFLA STATE HOUSE RACE UPDATE
FORT MYERS, FLA – The field of candidates is starting to fall into place in Southwest Florida and almost everyone has a challenger or two with the exception of Candidate Ray Rodriguez who is running for State House District 75. The first of a series of debates was recently hosted by the Southwest Florida Young Republican Club where Candidates Chris Berardi and Dane Eagle for District 77, David Mulicka, Heather Fitzenhagen, and Jonathan Martin for District 78 and Ray Rodriguez for the District 75 seat. The SWFL Young Republicans are a lively group that hold their meetings at BallyOrney’s Irish Restaurant upstairs where Voters can have a beer or a glass of wine while watching a lively debate. The Young Republicans asked some great questions and plan a debate on April 3rd with the Lee County Commissioner Candidates. Let’s start with the background and opening remarks of the candidates for District 78.
Heather Fitzenhagen has a law degree and is currently the Marketing Director of the Condo and HOA Law group PLLC and has started her own business Resolution Strategies, a mediation and arbitration business. She also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Pace Center for girls and is involved in many charities. She stated in her opening she “Wanted to eliminate the stranglehold of bureaucracy on our businesses, schools that are unfunded and waters that need to be cleaned up”. She went on to tell the crowd about herself including that she had been working since age 16, had put herself through law school, opened and runs her own business, married for 17 years with two children.
David Mulicka is the owner of HONC Marine/Destruction and has been a lifelong resident Lee County graduating from Cape Coral High School with honors in 1984 and then attending the University of Florida. David is married and has a son with autism and he states wants to raise awareness for this issue and understands the challenges for families with special needs children. He stated “He is the Past President of the CCCIA, with experience in construction and job creation through his business HONC Marine/Destruction for many years in the community”. He went on to tout his business and job creation experience as making the right candidate for the job.
Jonathan Martin is an Assistant State Attorney at the office of the State Attorney of the 20th Judicial Circuit who graduated from Ft Myers High School in 2000 attended law school and he and his wife returned to Ft Myers to live and work. He states he would like to “Fight the abuses of Medicare and Unemployment fraud that he sees in his job”. He goes on to state that the current bureaucracy is out of control and we have to start somewhere to get it under control.
Ray Rodriguez Candidate for the State Representative District 75 seat is Vice Chairman for the Lee County REC, is employed as a budget manager at Florida Gulf Coast University and is a husband and father. Ray would like to “Diversify our State Economy as our area is a 3 legged stool built on tourism, agriculture and development that needs to add more legs by encouraging private sector jobs”. He pointed out that Florida is the only state that levies a personal tangible property tax on businesses and would like to change this.
Chris Berardi is a Candidate for District 77 which will encompass all of the City of Cape Coral. He has served as a City Council member for the City of Cape Coral where he states “He has a proven track record of lowering city budgets and citizens taxes”. He went on to state that he has run fortune 100 companies and small family corporations and as a State Representative he would like to decrease regulations that strangle business. He currently works as a realtor and is President-Elect of the Cape Coral Association of Realtors.
Dane Eagle is a Candidate for District 77 is the youngest of the field at 28 years old and states he has been working at his family business Eagle Realty in Cape Coral since he was 16 years old and was Class President at Bishop Verot High School. He then attended and graduated the University of Florida and states “At 24 years old he was the youngest Deputy Chief of Staff ever appointed in the State of Florida while working for previous Governor Charlie Crist”. He states he was disenfranchised with the system in Tallahassee politics and came back to Cape Coral to go into business.
This has been an exciting year in Florida politics with the re-districting in which the lines, candidates and challengers each one has changed more than once. Lines seem to be coming together and while there is still time to enter the race, deadlines are approaching. We are lucky to have a talented pool of candidates here in Southwest Florida that will undoubtedly yield a good legislator. The race is just now starting to heat up and The Florida Patriot will bring you the highlights as they happen.