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State Senate District 27 seat to feature Republican primary

By Staff | Aug 13, 2020

By TIFFANY REPECKI

trepecki@breezenewspapers.com

The Florida Senate District 27 race will appear on the Aug. 18 Primary Election ballot — for voters who have registered their party affiliation as Republican — and on the Nov. 3 General Election ballot.

The primary in August has two Republican candidates: Heather Fitzenhagen and Ray Rodrigues. The top Republican vote-getter will advance to the General Election and face Democrat Rachel Brown.

Florida is a closed primary election state. As such, only voters who are registered members of political parties may vote for respective party candidates or nominees for an office during a primary election.

The Republican primary candidates are:

Heather Fitzenhagen

Current State Representative for District 78, Fitzenhagen is a former trial attorney who has resided in the district since 1993. Her professional background includes founder a mediation and arbitration company; marketing director at Condo & HOA Law Group; and Morgan & Morgan attorney.

“The people of SD-27 deserve a choice in who represents them — someone who cares about the issues of Southwest Florida like clean water and jobs, rather than catering to special interests in Tallahassee,” she wrote in response to the paper. “I have made every effort to really listen to my constituents and make sure that I am voting in line with their voice. I have made it clear that I am not here for my own agenda, but for the will of the voters. We need more Florida senators who are willing to commit to the same.”

Fitzenhagen’s civic and community involvement has included serving as a member of several organizations, including the Betty Allen Gynecological Foundation, Lee County Association of Women Lawyers, American Heart Association, PACE Center for Girls and Hope Clubhouse.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Hollins University and a Juris Doctor degree from Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center. She lives with her children in Fort Myers.

As for the planks of her platform, Fitzenhagen wrote:

“I refuse to take money from or cave to special interests that don’t represent Southwest Florida’s values. I will fiercely protect and clean up our waterways with a multi-faceted plan. I will fight for business deregulation to boost the economy after COVID-19. I will work toward better care for our vets, including mental health awareness and advancements. I will protect the rights of gun owners, being a gun owner myself. I will work toward a partnership with the federal government to reform immigration and crack down on corporations that benefit from illegal immigrant’s cheap labor.”

Her top three issues are clean water, the economy and mental health.

Ray Rodrigues, 50

Current State Representative for District 76, Rodrigues is a budget manager for Florida Gulf Coast University’s College of Arts and Sciences and moved to Lee County in 1994. Working from within the House since 2012, he has served as the vice-chair for the Ways and Means Committee, the Majority Leader for the Republican Caucus and the chair of the Health and Human Services Committee.

“While I am proud of my accomplishments during the past eight years in the Florida House of Representatives, there remains much work to be done,” Rodrigues wrote in response to the paper. “Florida has to get its economy re-opened and our citizens safely back to work. Furthermore, steps should be taken to address the COVID-19 crisis. My strong record supporting the business community and serving as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee equips me to help lead this effort.”

He also served as the vice-chair of the Lee County Republican Party.

Prior to his service in the Florida House, Rodrigues served on the Lee County Housing Authority, held elected office on the Stoney Brook Community Development District, served on the Charter Review Advisory Committee to the Lee County Board of County Commissioners and served as the vice-chair of the Lee County Republican Executive Committee. He also serves as a deacon at his church.

Rodrigues holds a bachelor’s degree from Berry College and a Master’s in Public Administration from FGCU. He and his wife, Ruth, and have been married for 26 years and they have a 17-year-old son, Rhett.

Rodrigues outlined the planks of his platform as: reducing the size and scope of government; keeping the government transparent and accountable to the people; protect the most vulnerable citizens — the unborn, the disabled and the elderly; and supporting President Donald Trump.

His top three issues are rebuild the economy, fighting against discharges from Lake Okeechobee, and supporting law and order during this civil unrest.