OPINION: USF students, vote Crist in November

USF students should vote for Charlie Crist in the Nov. 8 gubernatorial election. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE / Defense Visual Information Distribution

The 2022 Florida gubernatorial race is on. An Oct. 21 poll by FAU shows incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis leading Congressman Charlie Crist by 11 points.

DeSantis has had his time in the sun, which he’s spent eroding civil liberties and cashing checks from the development companies pricing Florida natives out of their homes. Crist is the future that Florida’s students should vote for on Nov. 8. 

Florida and Crist have a tight-knit history, with Crist graduating from both St. Petersburg High School and FSU before his 1992 election to the Florida Senate, where he served as a Republican for six years before rising to become Florida’s first elected Republican attorney general in 2002. Crist then began his term as Florida’s 44th governor in 2006.

Now running as a Democrat, Crist claims that his first act in the governor’s chair will be to veto the notorious 15-week abortion ban DeSantis signed into law on April 14. The ban completely disregarded science and the wants of constituents — 56% of Florida adults are pro-abortion, according to a 2022 Pew Research study —​​ in favor of ideological pandering.

“It’s scary and only reinforces my distrust in [governing] bodies,” USF senior Kayla Stump told The Oracle on June 30 after Roe V. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court on June 24. “I feel like a commodity rather than a human as those who are in power bid and sell my health care at the right price.”

Crist already has an executive order drafted defending the right to safe abortions. He also pledges to veto any anti-choice legislation and prosecute any localities attempting to infringe on the precedent set by Roe v. Wade. Crist promises to give Floridian women their voices back.

DeSantis has made himself into a champion for education, awarding $9 million in workforce grants to public universities affected by Hurricane Ian and $125 million in student loan reimbursements to nursing programs.

The governor seems to believe that this money grants him the right to inject his political ideology into schools. During his time in office, DeSantis passed the April 22 Stop WOKE Act, which essentially prevented any instruction in the workplace or public schools that addressed racism. 

DeSantis’ magnum opus, the March 29 “Don’t Say Gay” bill, argues that teachers of an LGBTQ status should not be allowed to discuss their homelives or make their identity known.

Crist’s public school plan addresses the real problems facing Florida’s education system, not political strawmen. He plans to mitigate the teacher shortage, make schools safer for students and work directly with parents to discuss their concerns.

He also advocates for the middle- and low-income classes, which have been ravaged by Florida’s housing crisis and the cost-of-living increases. 

The cost of living in Florida for a single adult has increased 7.7% since DeSantis became the governor in 2019, according to the Florida Department of Revenue. There was a 4.5% increase between 2021 and 2022 alone, the highest yearly cost increase since 1995. 

The cost of living has increased in large part due to skyrocketing housing rates and the lack of available properties at reasonable prices for the middle class. The average price of a one bedroom apartment in Florida increased 23%, or over $300, this past year, according to a study by Apartment Guide

DeSantis has not only sat back and allowed real estate and development companies to block out low- to middle-income renters, 40% of which are severely cost-burdened by their housing, he was, and is still, bankrolled by those predatory companies.

He received millions from real estate developers in 2022, according to Transparency USA, a database dedicated to making political donations public. This includes $250,000 from Barrow Realty, $250,000 from Eisenhower Management Inc. and $225,000 from the Realtors Political Advocacy Committee.

While DeSantis is busy cashing checks and turning a blind eye to keep himself in power, Crist has made a three-point plan to crack down on Wall Street housing and the cost-of-living crisis. This plan includes limiting neighborhood monopolies by out-of-state investment firms and cracking down on tenant abuse.

As USF students are well aware, extreme rent increases and tenant abuse run rampant in Tampa’s student housing scene. The fall 2022 move-in season sported housing shortages, price gouging and unlivable conditions, according to an Aug. 19 The Oracle article.

Now more than ever, students need a candidate that takes their side. DeSantis has proven that he sides with the developers who fill his pockets.

Crist represents an opportunity for students to help turn Florida around. He advocates for freedom of personal choice no matter who or where you are and decent living conditions for the middle class. These are the bare minimum which DeSantis has spent four years fighting against.

DeSantis represents a Florida that continues the status quo, a state affordable only to the rich where liberties of the people are sacrificed in the interest of large companies. Crist, who has served on both the red and blue sides, takes a more pragmatic approach. He sees Florida’s issues not through a partisan lens, but as a person.

Click here to read why columnist Abigail Nichols thinks you should vote for Gov. Ron DeSantis on Nov. 8.