First-time Republican candidate Traci Koster defeated Democratic opponent Jessica Harrington for the Florida House District 64 seat with 54 percent of the vote.
The district seat, which covers much of northwest Hillsborough County and runs from the Veterans Expressway west to McMullen Booth Road in Pinellas County, was previously held by Republican Jamie Grant, who withdrew from the race to take the state’s chief information officer position.
Koster, an attorney, practices with family law firm Nelson Koster. She ran on a platform of “family values” and improving foster care in the state.
Koster’s approach to the economic pressures brought by the coronavirus pandemic would be for the Legislature to handle it “the same way the Legislature addresses any other impacts on the budget” -- by maintaining a balanced ledger.
On Amendment 4, which restored many felons' right to vote, Koster, 35, said she supports its current implementation, which requires felons to pay all fines, restitution and court fees before they are allowed to vote. Critics call this requirement a “poll tax.”
“The legislation, as currently written, restores this important right without ignoring the importance of restitution for the victim of crime,” she said.
Koster received $114,221 in campaign contributions.
Harrington, 36, unsuccessfully ran for the seat in 2018. The Hillsborough County teacher criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis over lack of clarity on COVID-19 data and his general handling of the pandemic and ran on a platform of voter rights and access.
Her plan for tackling the economic hardships brought by the pandemic included stopping tax refunds for corporations “that are not required to use that money to benefit their workers.” Harrington also called for addressing the state’s broken unemployment system.
Harrington said she would push to ensure Amendment 4′s implementation is revised to restore voter rights when someone is released from prison.
“Requiring someone to pay money before they vote is not only immoral, but unconstitutional,” she said.
She said she supports a modern “Florida Voting Rights Act” that addresses voter suppression in the state, as well as ensuring that counties have adequate funds to open a sufficient amount of early voting locations. Election day, she said, should be a holiday.
Harrington received $234,727 in campaign contributions.
The two-year position pays $29,697 annually.
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