TAMPA — State Rep. Jackie Toledo is poised for a third term in the District 60 seat of the Florida House with 54 percent of the vote against Democrat Julie Jenkins.
All 58 precincts voting in that race had reported results by 9 p.m.
“Hard work pays off,” Toledo said in a text just after 8 p.m. “I am so grateful for my constituents, my family and God for allowing the opportunity to serve my community for another two years.”
The race for the District 60 seat, which covers South Tampa and western Hillsborough County, was tight. The area is almost evenly split among Democratic, Republican and independent voters.
Toledo, a 44-year-old civil engineer and single mother of five, was first elected to the Legislature in 2016. She has served as deputy majority whip and co-chair of the Women’s Caucus, and in various other committee roles.
Throughout her campaign, Toledo stressed separating herself from national politics, particularly President Donald Trump, who she said negatively impacted her race. She stressed that a vote for her was not a vote for Trump.
Toledo pointed to her record of supporting LGBTQ rights and sponsoring tougher texting-while-driving laws as examples of her willingness to work with Democrats.
Meanwhile, Jenkins, the 58-year-old owner of a small marketing firm, called herself “the real deal bipartisan candidate." She said her work as a community activist has taught her to bring sensibility to politics.
Jenkins had no opponent in the Democratic primary. She ran unsuccessfully three times for City Council, most recently in 2015, the same year Toledo lost a close runoff race with Council Chairman Guido Maniscalco.
Both Toledo and Jenkins campaigned with education as a key priority, with Toledo praising the state’s recent historic teacher raise and education budget as accomplishments. Jenkins contended Florida lawmakers haven’t done enough to update school buildings and provide teachers with enough support, pointing to crumbling facilities and lack of supplies in Tampa schools.
Toledo said she will keep pushing for more funding for education, even as health care costs have increased amid the coronavirus pandemic.
When asked how the Legislature should answer state budget concerns caused by the pandemic, Toledo said it’s important that Florida needs to safely reopen its economy. Jenkins, meanwhile, said the state must trim everywhere it can and fix the broken unemployment system.
Toledo will serve a two-year term, earning $29,697 plus per diem.
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