After months of misleading television ads and campaign attacks, it is time to cut through the smoke. Polls show most Floridians are unhappy with the direction of the nation and the state. That is understandable given our high unemployment, record home foreclosures and anemic economic recovery. But to bring about real change and a brighter future, our frustration has to be channeled in a productive direction as we cast our ballots in Tuesday's election.
We cannot let our anger with Washington cloud our judgment about what is best for Florida. Republican candidate for governor Rick Scott and other GOP candidates are portraying themselves as change agents. They are trying to ride the wave of discontent with President Barack Obama and Democrats who control Congress to victory in state elections.
Rather than bringing change to Tallahassee, Scott would put the status quo on steroids. Republicans have controlled state government for a dozen years and failed to prepare this state to weather an economic recession by creating a broader tax base, diversifying the economy or investing in public schools and universities. The rush to cut taxes for big business, slash spending on needed services, abolish protections for consumers and property owners, drill for oil offshore, restrict abortion rights and undermine public schools would become a stampede with Scott as governor.
Alex Sink would steer the state in a better direction and act as a counterbalance to the right-wing Legislature. The Democratic candidate for governor has pragmatic plans to generate jobs while Scott makes wild promises he can't keep. She embraces the possibilities of a rail system that could transform the economy while Scott is dismissive. She would build a public consensus to better manage growth and improve public education while Scott and the Legislature would shove their radical plans down our throats.
Sink also would provide a stronger dose of ethical, accountable leadership that is desperately needed in the state capital. The former state Republican Party chairman and the former Republican House speaker were forced out and indicted amid scandal. Republican legislative leaders have repaid thousands of dollars in personal expenses charged to state party credit cards. Scott presided over a hospital company that paid record fines for Medicare fraud, and he once invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 75 times in a deposition. Electing him as governor would reinforce the perception that anything goes in Tallahassee.
At this precarious moment, we particularly need a governor who understands Florida and embraces our values. Sink raised her children in Hillsborough County and sent them to public schools. She has participated in the civic life of this state for years as a private citizen and most recently as the state's chief financial officer. Scott moved to Naples just seven years ago, has no record of service and spent more than $70 million in this campaign to buy the governorship in a hostile takeover.
Voters can distinguish between their anger with Washington and their frustration with what they see happening in their state and their own neighborhoods. The most effective way to express that frustration is to vote for Sink for governor and send a clear message that Florida needs a smart change in direction.