Eunic Ortiz, an adjunct professor at the University of Florida and communications director of a major union, announced Thursday morning her run for state Senate District 24 in 2022 to replace term-limited Sen. Jeff Brandes.
Ortiz, 33, is seeking elected office for the first time and running as a Democrat. She will step down from her post as national political communications director at Service Employees International Union during her campaign and work as a consultant for the labor union.
As Ortiz involved herself with the 2020 campaign to approve Amendment 2, which sought to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, it sparked her desire to run for office. The amendment was approved by 60.8 percent of voters — and Ortiz said seeing how it moved beyond party lines showed her that people in the state want change.
“I knew in my core we need leaders in these seats that will fight to make Florida a better place,” she said.
State Rep. Nick DiCeglie is running as a Republican for the district. Timothy J. Lewis, a Largo resident, is running as a Republican. No other Democrats have announced for the seat.
Despite coming out of a pandemic, Ortiz said Tallahassee’s leadership was more concerned with passing legislation for their own agendas, not the betterment of Floridians.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Ortiz said she found the ban on transgender females from women’s and girl’s sports that lawmakers passed “atrocious.” The change to voting laws and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push for HB1, the “anti-riot” bill, threaten people’s rights, she said.
“That has no effect on making Floridians’ lives better,” she said. “It’s just putting up more red tape.”
As a legislator, she hopes to not only tackle issues present in the moment but to lay groundwork that guarantees future generations a quality of life.
In the past few months, Ortiz said she’s been having conversations around the district about what voters want to see, conversations she said she’ll continue to have throughout her campaign.
“Win or lose, I want to keep doing that,” Ortiz said. “Because I know we need leaders in our community that are going to continue to uplift all voices and not do what current leadership is doing now, which is giving a sound box to a select few.”
In a county surrounded by water, she said tackling environmental issues and climate change and getting plans in place is a priority.
“To make sure that we have a county 20 to 30 years from now,” she said.
Tackling affordable housing as St. Petersburg and the area market continues to boom is another priority, along with attracting well-paying jobs to the area so everyone has a salary they can live on.
Ortiz grew up in Pinellas County, graduating from Tarpon Springs High School, and attended the University of Florida. After graduating in 2008 amid the recession, Ortiz moved away to work in communications for the New York City Council. She has been with Service Employees International Union, which has about two million members, for about eight years.
She has been back in the Tampa Bay area for the past five years. She lives in St. Petersburg with her cat, Mango.
“I’m going to bring a wealth of knowledge to this role that I think marks me as a leader that we need in this moment,” she said.