For Adam Gentle, January 6, 2021 was a call to action.
The attack on the U.S. Capitol motivated the anti-corruption lawyer to another level of service.
“I felt compelled to get involved,” Gentle told SFGN in a telephone call last week. “After watching that, I was like, ‘Is there something more that I can do?’”
Gentle briefly explored a federal campaign before settling on a run in Florida House District 120. He won the Democratic primary with 56%, defeating a seasoned politician, Dan Horton-Diaz, who had the endorsement of the Miami Herald.
Agriculture and tourism are big businesses in the district, Gentle said, and residents want sensible solutions to lower the increasing costs of living here.
“People want cordial discourse on things like affordable housing and out-of-control insurance rates – things I call ‘kitchen table issues,’” Gentle said.
Gentle, 41, grew up in Michigan and graduated with honors from Columbia University. He got a law degree from George Washington University and went to work rooting out corruption in corporations that provide housing to low-income renters. He moved to Monroe County from Los Angeles with his husband of eight years, Matheus Oriolo.
“As a gay man, I grew up in a time when the idea of having a family seemed impossible,” Gentle said. “In the 1980s and '90s, marriage was off the table and then we saw this evolution on gay rights and now suddenly, all of our progress is being threatened, well, I refuse to go backward.”
House District 120 is the state’s southernmost district stretching from Homestead in Miami-Dade County all the way to Key West. Gentle said it’s definitely a flippable district for Democrats, referencing strong turnout for former U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum in the 2018 election. Going back further, former Representative Ron Saunders, a Democrat, held the seat for 14 years.
In November’s general election, Gentle faces incumbent Representative Jim Mooney, former Mayor of Islamorada. Mooney won the Republican primary by 90 votes and was criticized by his opponents for siding with Democrats against the infamous "Don’t Say Gay" law. In what could be an indicator of the district’s swing states, Gentle got 356 more votes than Mooney in the primary elections.