Three questions for the candidates running for governor : Women’s Issues

Women's March, 2017
Women's March, January 2017 in Washington (Youtube.com)

Today in the Florida Phoenix, we continue our election series, where we ask three questions of the candidates for Florida governor, who face off in the Aug. 28 primary. Each day we’ll cover a different topic of interest to voters. Today we ask about women’s issues. 

The Republican candidates — Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis — chose not to participate in the “Three Questions” series. The five Democrats running for governor responded, and we present their answers in alphabetical order.

1. Not including family members, tell us about a woman (or women) who influenced you? 

Andrew Gillum:

Of course, my mother Frances has had a profound impact on my development as a young man, as a father and husband, and as a public servant. But I must also give credit to Linda Awbrey, my teacher at Gainesville High School who encouraged me to dream big and reach beyond what I believed was possible. I’ve also been deeply influenced by Dolores Huerta, a civil rights, labor, and women’s icon, whose commitment to inclusion and diversity I share, and whose endorsement I’m proud to have earned. 

Gwen Graham:

I’ve always looked up to Julia Tuttle, the founder of Miami. She is the only woman recognized as the founder of a major American city. 

Jeff Greene:  

Laura Arnold, the co-chair of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. She’s in the Giving Pledge with me (the Giving Pledge is the organization of billionaires who have publicly committed to dedicating the majority of their wealth to philanthropy).  Her biggest issue is criminal justice reform. I’ve spent a lot of time with her on understanding the terrible injustices that occur every day in our country, and I’ve learned a lot from her and it’s really become an issue that I’ve becoming very passionate about because of her. 

Chris King: 

Linda Chapin, the former mayor of Orange County, has been a foundational and formative woman in my life.  She has taught me so much about the value of public service and how to balance fighting for the greater good while at the same time balancing the many competing interests inherent in any issue.  She has always stressed that a good person does what is right, even when it is hard and is open and inviting of many viewpoints, including criticism, because this is what enables a leader to learn and do better.

Linda has not only been an incredible teacher, however, as she also has always been nurturing and supportive. She is one of those rare, high-profile people who always takes the time to ask me how I really am doing, how she can help me and what I am passionate about.  She has shown me that strong, loving and uplifting relationships with individuals is key to a happy life –– that those relationships also form the basis for cooperative action is a wonderful side benefit. 

Philip Levine: 

The founder of Special Olympics, Eunice Shriver, influenced me greatly. I’ve known her and her family for years, she’s been a great friend and mentor who encouraged me to give a voice to those who don’t have one. I’ve been on the Board of Best Buddies for years, an incredible organization which was started by her son. 

2. Florida ranks 36th among states in a report that compares women’s earnings to men’s. White women earn 80 cents to every dollar a man earns, and women of color average 59 cents to a man’s dollar. What would you do about pay equity? 

Andrew Gillum:  

Because a rising tide raises all ships, as Governor I would support and fight for raising Florida’s minimum wage to $15 per hour — an effort that would immediately benefit millions of Florida workers. As a Mayor, I’ve also watched this state legislature run roughshod over the rights of local governments to close the pay gap through forward-thinking local wage policies; as Governor, I would push back on the corporate-backed preemption laws that suppress wages for women and workers of color, and let communities raise wages for their residents. 

Gwen Graham: 

In Congress, I was proud to co-sponsor Equal Pay legislation and will fight for pay equity in Florida. 

Jeff Greene:

We have to make sure that there’s no discrimination against women whatsoever. This is 2018. A woman should be paid exactly what a man should be paid, and there should be no discrimination in the workplace whatsoever regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, race, religion. This is 2018. Everything should be based on merit. That’s how society should be and as governor, I will certainly fight every day that I’m there to make sure that people are compensated based on their qualifications and nothing else. 

Chris King: 

It is 2018 and pay equity is long overdue. That women do not earn the same amount as men for doing the same work is unacceptable and must be stopped. We need a voice in the governor’s mansion who will tirelessly support equal pay, and I pledge to do just that. As governor, we will comb through state’s budget to make sure that no government employee is the victim of unequal pay.

We must also pass laws that protect women when they are applying for jobs (e.g., employers should not be allowed to ask about past salary to intentionally or unintentionally depress the salaries of women, who are likely to have been paid less in the first place) as well as when women are promoted. Our regulatory agencies have a role in monitoring this issue as well and I believe it is appropriate for them to do so. I also support Florida ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.  

Philip Levine: 

On day one in office, I will issue an executive order demanding equal pay for equal work—everyone deserves to be paid solely based on the quality of their work. 

3. What are your plans for replacing the three outgoing justices on the Florida Supreme 

Andrew Gillum: 

This is one of the most critical decisions our next Governor will face. The moment I become Governor-elect, I will immediately file an injunction to prevent Rick Scott from seating three radical, right-wing justices. And I will convene, as part of my transition team, a task force of Florida’s finest legal and Constitutional scholars to secure our right to seat three mainstream, respectable jurists who reflect the diversity of experience and opinion in our state. 

Gwen Graham:  

The people of Florida have spoken. They clearly rejected Rick Scott’s Supreme Court-packing scheme on the November 2014 ballot. Yet the Governor doesn’t seem to be listening – not even when his own general counsel conceded that the new governor would have the authority to make appointments once her or his term started. 

Clearly, the next governor, Republican or Democrat, has the constitutional right to appoint the next Supreme Court justices. And if Governor Scott attempts to exceed his authority, I will take him to court on my first day in office.  

Jeff Greene: 

I will replace them with justices who will certainly uphold the law but not…make laws that take away people’s rights. A perfect example is a woman’s right to choose, which our U.S. Supreme Court could very well impact Roe vs. Wade. They could send that back to the states. And I’m not saying that we’re just going to pick justices who are going to be pro-choice, but we’re going to choose justices that believe in individual rights, every right, including a woman’s right to choose and whatever else they want to do their lives. 

Chris King: 

First, we cannot allow Rick Scott to go through with his lame-duck power grab. This right of appointment belongs to the next governor of Florida and governors must follow the spirit and letter of the law. I would be prepared to mount whatever challenges necessary in the event that Rick Scott tries to circumvent this right.

When appointing the new justices, I believe that it is important to select jurists who have unimpeachable credentials, who are known for their fair and level-headed temperaments, who have a demonstrated commitment to impartiality and are not going to be unduly influenced by any group or industry and who represent Florida and its many diverse citizens. While they must be qualified, we must always seek out jurists who can bring a diversity of experiences, especially those that have been underrepresented on the Florida Supreme Court in the past. 

Philip Levine:  

As Trump works to stack the US Supreme Court with ideological judges, Florida will go a different route and do the right thing by appointing judges who are fair, unbiased, and will uphold the law in a balanced manner. 

Julie Hauserman
Julie Hauserman has been writing about Florida for more than 30 years. She is a former Capitol bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times, and reported for The Stuart News and the Tallahassee Democrat. She was a national commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Splendid Table . She has won many awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is featured in several Florida anthologies, including The Wild Heart of Florida , The Book of the Everglades , and Between Two Rivers . Her new book is Drawn to The Deep, a University Press of Florida biography of Florida cave diver and National Geographic explorer Wes Skiles.

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