Gillum, DeSantis bring fiery debate to BC’s Bailey Hall

Stephanie Sylvester



The best coffee I ever had in my life was the coffee I had after I left the craziest newsroom I had ever witnessed. Crowded in the same room with journalists from several local news stations and publications with their cameras rolling and recorders acute, was an exciting and overwhelming experience.

Journalists, reporters, anchors, students, teachers, faculty and community citizens alike were all gathered for the 2018 Florida Gubernatorial Debate for a unified purpose: to become familiar with the character and plans the potential candidates have that will determine the fate of Florida for the next four years. Unfortunately, the citizens of Florida were instead exposed to treacherous scandals and habitual slander from the candidates.

Vice President for External Affairs and Economic Development at Leadership Florida, Pam Rauch, remarked at the beginning of the event, “Voting at all levels of the government is a privilege,” directly referring to the extremely important and well-anticipated general election on Nov. 6.

President and CEO of Leadership Florida, Beth Kigel, emphasized how special the governor’s debate is because it “is an actual debate done by Floridians for Floridians.” The fact that the debate was held on the Central Campus of Broward College deems extremely important to targeting millennials to get up and go vote.

Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University alumni and youngest city commissioner for the city of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum is the democratic nominee for Florida’s governor. As current Tallahassee mayor, Gillum has engendered positive change for the city of Tallahassee working closely with law enforcement to decrease crime rates for the city. If voted in as governor, he would be the first black governor in the history of Florida.

Former Florida state representative and Yale University and Harvard Law school graduate, Ron DeSantis, entered the race as the Republican nominee. His colorful background in the U.S. Navy demonstrates DeSantis’s dedication to service. Having been deployed to Iraq and serving as an adviser for the operations held there, DeSantis is not new to the importance of international affairs even on a state level.

WPBF television journalist, Todd McDermott, waltzed onstage assuming his role as moderator. “Tonight is about a commitment to democracy,” is one of the few effective statements McDermott remarked that evening. When the candidates arrived, they shook hands and immediately commenced World War III after the very first question.

Absolute scandal began the debate when DeSantis aired Gillum’s dirty laundry regarding his acceptance of Hamilton tickets as a gift from an undercover FBI agent. His defense, funny and currently trending on all social media platforms was, “We’ve got 99 problems and Hamilton ain’t one of them.”

Gillum also rebutted saying DeSantis is guilty of spending $145,000 in sponsorship funds and tax dollars to take vacations with his buddies. DeSantis denied all allegations and proceeded to acknowledge that he publicly revealed his income tax records online as proof. Gillum still combatted his statement exclaiming, “We need receipts!”

Sun-Sentinel Political Reporter, Anthony Man, along with Columnist and Engagement Editor for Florida Today and USA Today, Isadora Rangel were the two panelists for the discussion. Man directed his first question to Gillum regarding Gillum’s proposal to increase corporate taxes statewide.

Gillum emphasized him being against state income taxes and proceeded to reveal that 97 percent of businesses in Florida do not pay a state income tax, which he has no intentions on changing. He is focused on the top 3 percent wealthiest businesses who receive billions of dollars in tax revenue and that all he desires is one billion of those dollars to improve education.

McDermott addressed the alleged comment that Gillum made about ending charter schools to kick off the discussion about education. Gillum made it clear as day that he did not want to “disrupt the status quo” of charter schools right now, but he simply wanted to pour more money into public schools, in which over 90 percent of Florida students populate.

Both candidates have goals to incorporate trade and vocational programs into high schools to guarantee jobs for graduates. “Training them in high school to take on a blue-collar trade is not where the world is going,” said Psychology Club president and student, Bethsy Rodriguez.

“How are you going to help them get bigger paychecks so that they can provide for their families?,” said Rangel directing her question to DeSantis regarding the 30 percent of families in Florida who work full-time, but still find themselves at or below the poverty level. The only response that the public got to the economically significant question was tax-rising slander directed to Gillum’s plans. In other words, we are still waiting for the answer to the question from DeSantis.

“Mr. DeSantis has far too many degrees to not get it,” said Gillum when the discussion of immigration policy began. “Immigration and border control has an important job to do and we ought to empower them to do that job,” Gillum said with conviction. Gillum emphasized his belief in borders for the sake of national safety but says that snatching “breastfeeding babies” away from their mothers at the border is simply not “the American way.”

DeSantis responded that Gillum will only establish sanctuary cities again and allow immigrants who committed crimes back on the streets after they have served their sentence through our justice system. “That child molester will re-offend and someone’s son or daughter in Florida will end up paying the price.” His harsh statement resulted in loud murmur and disdain from the audience. His response to the audience’s reaction was, “The truth hurts.”

DeSantis burst into a temper tantrum when McDermott mentioned the racially-motivated conferences hosted by racist activist, Horowitz which DeSantis spoke at. He denied all allegations that the conferences were even racist in the first place even though Horowitz said, “the country’s only serious race war is against whites.” As Gillum said, “a hit dog will holler.” “I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist,” said Gillum in response to DeSantis’s denial.

Gillum claimed that he is endorsed by almost all environmental agencies in Florida. He said when he becomes governor he will hold major polluters such as Big Sugar accountable for their waste. He promises to address the over development of structure happening north of Lake Okeechobee in efforts to combat climate change and blue-green algae flowing in our waters.

DeSantis expressed the importance of keeping the waters clean for health, safety, consumption and tourism. He said companies like Big Sugar offered to fund his campaign numerous times, but he denied all funding from them because he does not approve of their huge pollution contributions.

One of the biggest decisions on the ballot for Nov. 6 is Amendment four, which restores the right to vote to felons that successfully complete their sentence, probation and parole. “I want people to be able to earn their way back. You don’t get it for free,” said DeSantis regarding his stance on Amendment four.

Gillum rebutted saying, “The number one way to reduce crime in a community is to reduce the level of recidivism.” Gillum is speaking from his experience as mayor of Tallahassee where he was responsible for an 8 percent decrease in crime rates in the city since he became mayor in 2014.

Will Florida “Bring It Home” with Andrew Gillum or will they “Fight for Good Jobs, Better Schools, Clean Water and Safe Communities” with Ron DeSantis?

Florida has many decisions to make this upcoming election and choosing the right governor will be the most important.
cutline: Gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum shake hands before the debate at Bailey Hall on Central Campus. Daniela Jaramillo/The Observer