District 113 in South Florida could change the make-up of the state legislature
David Richardson wants to go to the state legislature — he would become Tallahassee’s first openly gay representative if he succeeds.
Even though Richardson is not the only LGBT candidate running (there are five others, according to Equality Florida), there’s something special about his race.
Four Democrats are running for South Florida’s district 113, which covers all of Miami Beach (per recent redistricting, the city is wholly in one district for the first time), a bit of South Beach, a bit of Downtown Miami, and a bit of Little Havana. No Republicans are running, which means that the Democrat that wins that August 14 primary wins the seat. What makes Richardson even more unique is that he’s the only candidate running in the primaries who’s been endorsed by both Equality Florida and SAVE Dade.
While Richardson has an idea about LGBT rights and what he wants to do to further their cause for Floridians (he emphasized he’d be working on state equality issues, not just localized ones), Richardson’s first priority is his district, he said. The ethnically diverse landscape, which includes a large proportion of Hispanics, Jews, LGBT people and others, does not have an easily seen common denominato
According to Equality Florida, there are five LGBT candidates running for Florida’s House other than David Richardson.
Here they are:
“The challenge is how do you take these four communities and bring the people together,” Richardson said about one issue he’d be facing at the district office. “I think I’ve got a head start on the other candidates — I speak Spanish. We have to think about everyone — no community can be excluded.”
What every community needs to see, Richardson said, is the creation of jobs and state support for small businesses.
“There’s no land or space for big box industries. And there never will be,” he said. To effect some changes, Richardson said he’d push for credits on property taxes and maybe discounts on sales taxes for local businesses.
Having been in the accounting industry for 30 years (he started as an intern at the Pentagon), Richardson also sees opportunities for the state to garner some well-deserved income that is currently unaccountable.
The example he gave involves travel sites that sell discounted rooms. When a hotel sells a block of rooms to a company that buys these in bulk, like Expedia, it sells the rooms at a discounted rate. That’s the rate that the hotel is taxed on, meaning a Florida hotel will pay Florida taxes on that discounted sale. The vacationer that buys the tickets at a higher price, however, pays the premium to the online company, which pays its taxes from wherever it’s based.
Richardson said that laws can be passed to make companies pay taxes on the full price of a hotel room, not just on the discounted rate.
“No one’s talking about that issue. Ultimately, someone has to be responsible for collecting that,” he said.
While these are his views for the district, among other platforms, Richardson said he’s a “realist” when it comes to the LGBT population he’ll be serving.
District 113 Candidates
For more information on the candidates, go to their sites.
Here are district 113’s state representative candidates, in alphabetical order:
“I feel strongly about equality. We have to get there by taking small steps. But my experience has shown me that we never make true progress until we sit at the table,” he said. “You can be fired in Florida for being gay. I think that’s one of the first things that needs to be changed.” He added that he wouldn’t be spending all of his time working on LGBT issues, that there’s education and taxing and environmental issues to worry about too, but that he “won’t be afraid to bring it up.”
Richardson said that his biggest strength is having spent his entire career working in conflict resolution. He’s not afraid of being in a situation where people disagree with him. Always on the opposite side of an issue in accounting consultancy is where he’s spent most of his time, he said, which is where messes go to get cleaned up.
But before Richardson can step into his office and make LGBT history in Florida, he must first beat three other Democratic candidates.
First, there’s Adam Kravtiz. Having co-founded J-Date, a mainstream Jewish dating site, Kravitz went on to found www.Evoter.com, where voters go to get non-partisan information, he said. For Kravitz, the main issues affecting the district are jobs, education and wind storm insurance. Like Richardson, Kravitz said his main focus is on jobs.
“I really learned there’s a lack of private investment in South Florida because there’s no incentives and it hasn’t been a priority for the state government,” Kravitz told SFGN. He added that he’s the only candidate with specific proposals to change that. “We have a lot of wealth in Florida, but no state income tax. We could create a program where, if investors invested in a qualified company, they’d get an increased homestead exemption.”
The way things are currently, Kravitz said, investors rather just put their money in real estate.
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Of note is Kravtiz’s history with LGBT issues. He started his political career in San Francisco, where he was part of the then-Harvey Milk Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club. His business background, he said, will help him get traction with the Republicans in Tallahassee, too.
“I was fighting for equality issues before they were called equality issues,” Kravitz said. “With a Republican supermajority, it’s very difficult to get any traction at all for having major sweeping changes on equality issues. We can see things done — on certain issues — like hospital visitations. I think even conservatives might be willing to give on those.”
Richardson’s second opponent is Mark Weithorn. By trade a marketing expert, Weithorn has paid his dues in the real estate world and owns his own a site that helps realtors create websites for their businesses. To Weithorn, the main issues facing district 113 are gambling, wind storm insurance, education, and healthcare.
Bringing gambling on a large scale to Miami is bad, he said. It would hurt tourism by sucking up its resources and, with tax revenue that’s not required to be spent in Miami, it would create a large burden on the area without a pay-off. Weithorn also wants to see education become a focus in the district.
“We have students who are dropping out of high school. We need to get these students back and hire more teachers,” Weithorn told SFGN. “There are a lot of corporations that don’t come to Florida because they can’t find people to work.”
As for LGBT issues, Weithorn said he’d been active in the community for years, having attended countless Pride events and parades.
“I believe in equal rights for people and I will definitely work hard to make sure that LGBT people have the same rights as everyone else.”
Richardson’s fourth opponent is Waldo Faura, who didn’t respond to SFGN’s attempts to connect with him.