Jouniari, Good Reach Out to Democrats

Politics

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY DEC 1, 2017

Editor's Note: This is the second in a two-part story.

A special election for a Sarasota area House seat had Democrats salivating at the chance to swing a moderate district, but first, they must settle on a nominee. Democrats Margaret Good and Ruta Jouniari will spend the coming days reaching out directly to voters in their own party leading into a Tuesday primary that will determine whose name appears on a February ballot. That means convinces the most die-hard members of their own party to endorse their progressive credentials before taking the platform in front of a wider range of voters through District 72.

On wages, Jouniari says the state needs to adopt a $15 minimum wage. “How can we justify people living in poverty as a minimum wage?,” she says,” especially if you live in Sarasota where as a single person rent is going to be $1,200 or $1,500 a month.” Good agrees the state cannot continue with a minimum wage of just $8.10 but wouldn’t endorse a particular dollar amount that should be adopted instead, and rather demands that the state study and determine a living wage that would still allow small businesses to continue operating.

And Good also wants to see greater investment in public education. She’s been upset at the increasing demands by the Legislature for districts to fund charter schools. “Florida should not be funding for-profit charter schools,” she says, and favors a ban on that practice while still allowing nonprofit charter schools to operate. She also criticized growing voucher programs in Florida, that by 2020 could be directing $1 billion toward private schools she says lack any state oversight.

While Jouniari has made an appeal to the progressive wing of the party, she voted for Hillary Clinton in last year’s primary, citing her own feminism and ties to the same college community as the ultimate Democratic nominee. Good declined to say who she supported in the primary last year.

Both candidates say they can support the use of business incentives in the state. Good said they must come with substantial requirements. “It’s important we bring great businesses to Florida and do more to help small businesses already in Florida,” she says, “but when a business receives incentives, we have to hold them accountable to create jobs, enhance jobs and do more for our workers.” Jouniari says the state should use incentives to bring desired industries to Florida. “If we bring in solar companies, alternative energies, recycling companies—something that will better the planet, the economy and society—than I’m all for putting forth business incentings and bringing those industries into Sarasota,” she says.

The winner of the primary on Tuesday will face Republican James Buchanan and Libertarian Alison Foxall in a Feb. 13 general election. The seat was vacated by state Rep. Alex Miller, who resigned earlier this year citing family and business obligations. 

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