MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The state’s hotly contested governor’s race was not the only issue that had South Florida voters going to the polls.
Their were a number of other races and ballot issues that drew them in so they could make their voices heard.
On the statewide level, Florida voters approved Amendment 1 which designates billions of dollars for conservation efforts over the next 20 years.
Amendment 1 passed overwhelmingly with nearly 75 percent of voters choosing “yes,” far more than the 60 percent that was needed to pass the ballot measure.
The approval means about one billion a year from an existing real estate tax will go annually toward conservation. About half of that money will fund Florida Forever, a conservation land purchasing program whose budget was almost entirely depleted during the Great Recession. The money was never restored after the economy improved.
Amendments 2 and 3, however, didn’t fair as well.
Amendment 2, which would legalize marijuana for certain medical conditions, received 58 percent approval – just short of the 60 percent needed for passage.
Amendment 3, which would have let an outgoing governor rather than an incoming one choose new Supreme Court justices after three retire due to age limits in 2019, also failed. It received only 48 percent approval, it too needed 60 percent for passage.
In races and issues closer to home.
Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo defeated Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia for U.S. Congressional District 26.
Curbelo, a member of the Miami-Dade School Board, campaigned on platform of weeding corruption out, referring to Garcia, and beginning a new chapter.
State Senator Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, defeated Ellyn Bogdanoff. Sachs and Bogdanoff served together in the Senate from 2010 to 2012. But in 2012, a new redistricting map put them on a collision course for the same seat, which Sachs won by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent.
Sachs’ lead came on a good night for Senate incumbents, who faced few real challenges this year.
In perhaps the other most-competitive Senate race, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, fended off a challenge from Democrat Judithanne McLauchlan in District 22 in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Other incumbents who won included Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs; Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando; Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon; Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart; and Sen.Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens.
Voters in Broward approved an $800 bond for school improvements. School district officials said the money is crucial to improving aging facilities and upgrading technology in the sixth largest school district in the country. Superintendent Robert Runcie had said the bond means investing in the future of the kids.
Voters in Miami-Dade also gave their support to a school expansion. The approved an expansion of Florida International University onto the Miami-Dade County Youth Fairgrounds.
The land that was in question was 86 acres. FIU wanted 64-acres of it.
“The voters have spoken and they have said ‘Yes’ to FIU,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “We are thankful for the support of Miami-Dade voters, including FIU students, alumni, faculty, staff and the entire FIU family. We also would like to thank the county commission and Mayor Carlos Gimenez and his staff for their hard work and the vision they have shown for the future of FIU and Miami-Dade County.”
Now, FIU can expand to add an additional 10,000 students. Rosenberg said the expansion will create a number of additional jobs and have an economic impact of $541 million a year.
Miami-Dade voters were not so generous in their support of a property tax increase that would go to build a new civil courthouse. They rejected the measure by a vote of 64 percent.
Click Here for more election results.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.
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