MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Former Rep. Gwen Graham has her sights set on the Governor’s Office.
The daughter of long-time Florida Senator Bob Graham announced her intention to run Tuesday morning in Miami Gardens.
“This is the moment in Florida history where we determine if we have a bright future or not,” said Graham.
Graham said one of her priorities would be to take back public education.
“Florida used to have a public school system, today though it has become a public school industry,” said Graham. “That’s what the politicians in Tallahassee have turned our school system into. It’s an education industry that forced our kids to take 3.6 million standardized tests and have forced our teachers to work so hard to get up every day and teach to those tests.”
All those tests, said Graham, produce arbitrary grades for our schools and low self-esteem, and even lower expectations, for the students. She said it’s become all about the accounting which has lined the pockets of corporate testing firms with millions of dollars of Florida tax dollars.
“As governor, I will not just criticize this culture of teaching to the test, I will end it,” said Graham.
“I have a history of being able to work in a bipartisan fashion. Make no mistake, I will do whatever it takes, including using the governor’s line-item veto, to end this high-stakes testing.”
Graham said on Monday she followed in her father’s footsteps, did a ‘work day’ at Carol City Senior High.
“I spent a shift serving food at the lunch room. The kids really loved me because I gave them eight meatballs instead of six. I listened to the teachers and I helped teach a culinary class,” said Graham. “Now I was supposed to do the teaching on this work day but it was really the students who taught me. Now the politicians and the public school system have labeled this school a “D” but I doubt that any of them have ever spent a day at Carol City High.”
Graham said she also has a plan to increase funding for public education. If elected, she said she will end what she calls the Lottery shell game.
“That shell game deprives our schools of the added classroom funding that the lottery was meant to provide, the adding funding we voted for over 30 years ago,” she said.
The lottery proceeds were meant to add funding to classrooms. She said before the lottery, the State of Florida contributed 60-percent of funding for Florida public schools. Today, she pointed out, that has been cut by almost 15-percent. Graham said if elected, she would deliver the full lottery funds to the state’s public schools.
She also shared her vision for Florida’s economy and environment. Graham called for Florida to raise the minimum wage, provide paid sick leave, invest in infrastructure, and diversify Florida’s economy.
“Instead of passing commonsense economic policies, like raising the minimum wage and paid sick leave, Rick Scott repeats, ‘Jobs, jobs, jobs!’ — as in you’ll need three jobs just to get by,” she said.
Graham also said, as governor, she would address environmental issues.
“So neglecting Florida’s treasures affect our health, our environment, and our economy. And we all know that climate change is real, we live on a peninsula, we are surrounded by water and our coasts are being threatened by rising tides. Our forests are raging with fires. Instead of facing that reality, what does Donald Trump say, he calls it a hoax. And what has Rick Scott done, he has prohibited the use of the words ‘climate change’ in state government,” said Graham.
She said as governor she would use Amendment One funds as the voters intended to protect and purchase threatened lands and waters. She added that she would also ban fracking off the coasts and would fight oil drilling which would threaten the coasts, the oceans, and the state’s tourism economy.
Graham said now is the time to act.
“My love for Florida runs deep, my dreams for Florida run wide, but my patience, my patience for inaction in this state that I love has run out. That is why I am running for governor,” said Graham.
Former Sen. Graham, who was once governor of the state, watched proudly has his daughter followed in his footsteps.
“It couldn’t be more thrilling. Any parent likes to see their children succeed and when they succeed in the same path that you’ve spent much of your life on, it’s that much more,” said Bob Graham.
Incumbent Rick Scott is not able to run because of term limits.
While the race isn’t until next year, several candidates have already declared they are running.
One of the most prominent is Democrat Andrew Gillum, the Mayor of Tallahassee. Gillum is a Miami native and many see him as a rising star in the Democratic party.
Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner, Adam Putnam who is a Republican, filed papers Monday in his bid to succeed Scott. State Rep. Matt Caldwell also announced Monday he’d run for Putnam’s seat.