1. Opinion

Campaign's over; it's time to work together

With the end of the election cycle, so ends the bombardment of our televisions, radios and mailboxes with campaign ads. For most of us, this is a welcome reprieve. Whether the candidates we chose won or lost, our collective choices are in place. The campaign has ended. It is now time for our representatives to govern.

To those who emerged victorious, it is our duty to put the ideas, promises and rhetoric of the campaign trail into practical plans. For those who lost, it is time to recognize that the strength of our republic is based upon the peaceful transfer of government from one administration to the next, whether it is on the national level, local level, or even our judiciary. We fight hard and support our candidates vigorously, but we must also live responsibly as one nation under God, indivisible.

As the incoming speaker of the Florida House, I want Floridians to know that I will set an expectation for lawmakers to serve all Floridians, and not just those who voted for them. There are several areas where both Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature can work together and achieve significant, immediate results. For example, we can increase transparency and promote ethical practices at the state level by taking up a robust campaign finance and ethics reform bill that will ensure political donations are used for campaign purposes. While reforming the system may not be popular among the political class, it is the right thing to do.

There are other issues on which we will work together to address the needs of our state. Our newly elected members will bring ideas to Tallahassee as a result of the time spent speaking with Floridians about their concerns and ideas. I look forward to putting forth a clear and public agenda so that we may receive the benefit of vigorous debate and open dialogue.

What we won't do is wait on Washington, D.C., to act. I was an unabashed Mitt Romney supporter, but the fact is President Barack Obama won a hard-fought re-election battle. The president made many promises on the campaign trail about the new direction he wants for the nation. His words will be put to the test against a backdrop of intense trench partisan warfare that has tinted our federal government for decades.

Florida cannot afford four more years of gridlock. We must fulfill the original intent of our federal system of government; states must be the laboratories of democracy. Florida controls its own destiny. We will do all we can to find innovative and lasting solutions that can be a model for our nation. Florida can be a haven where hard work is valued, ingenuity is welcomed and financial success is widely achievable.

Today marks a new day in Florida. Let us pull up the yard signs, throw away the countless fliers and begin the process of working together to find lasting solutions for our state.

Will Weatherford is the speaker-designate of the Florida House of Representatives, a Republican and a state representative from Wesley Chapel. He wrote this exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.