"Gov-er-nor, n. 1. the executive head of a state in the United States." We are engaged in a political campaign that will culminate in the election of our governor. Think about that with me. Florida is at the crossroads, emerging as the fourth largest state in the nation. This growth, however, is not a cause for celebrating because we have failed to handle the impact of rapid growth on our state's education, environment and transportation, and needs of people have gone unattended. I wish I could support the Republican standard-bearer, but I cannot. I am a lifelong Republican, but I must do the right thing for Florida. Party loyalty must give way to better judgment in the light of the Republican incumbent's record.
Mind you, the incumbent is not an outsider or a newcomer to Tallahassee. He has been there, vested with the supreme executive power of our state for four wasted years. In the September 1990 Republican primary for governor, Pinellas County Republicans gave Martinez only 52 percent of the vote although his opponents were not well known. Obviously, I am not the only Republican disappointed in Gov. Martinez.
Look at the record. Martinez is an environmentalist-come-lately. Valuable time has been lost in the race to preserve the natural beauty and wildlife of our state. Martinez has a failing grade in support for education. We have lost ground in the climb toward top quality education. We see environmental and education groups supporting his opponent. He has been dragging his feet on the roads that are sorely needed throughout the state.
Martinez's positions on the scope of the right of privacy guaranteed in the Florida Constitution have been repudiated by the Florida Supreme Court on the abortion issue and the living will issue. The governor's proposed legislation on abortion, which failed to pass the Legislature in a special session in 1989, would have failed the test in the Supreme Court. His last-minute veto of the living will legislation in 1989 delayed Floridians' right to die with dignity until the Legislature met again in 1990.
What about Martinez's judgment in choices for positions of leadership? What about the mismanagement of the Department of Transportation (DOT) by Kaye Henderson? Why did Lt. Gov. Bobby Brantley vanishfrom Tallahassee? What do you know about Martinez's chosen running mate for 1990? What's his name? For whom is B.J. West working?
Martinez's inconsistency and failure to provide leadership make him an unacceptable candidate for re-election. Fortunately, we do have a good alternative, a candidate with a positive record in the U.S. Senate. Lawton Chiles is a potential statesman in the office of governor of Florida.
We have known statesmen as governors in our state. LeRoy Collins brought people together by practicing the politics of unity. Reubin Askew showed the courage of his convictions in difficult issues facing Florida. Collins and Askew have been honored recipients of the Benjamin Franklin Distinguished Leader Award presented by the large, bipartisan Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg. Sen. Lawton Chiles was the recipient in 1988 "for outstanding, selfless and creative service in the public interest."
The Chiles-Mackay team is limiting our contributions to $100 per person to signal a stop to the corrupting influence of money in political campaigns. How can we fail to follow their lead?
The Chiles-Mackay team is asking us Floridians to become a "community _ not a crowd." How can we refuse to work together with them for a better Florida?
- Martha Rudy Wallace is a member and past chairwoman of the Eckerd College board of trustees. She served on the Pinellas School Board 1972-1980. My View columnists, invited to contribute on a regular basis, write their own views on subjects they choose.