The Democratic incumbent who earned an “A” in the 2021 People First Report Card for consistently voting in favor of her constituents, is up for reelection. This is how she plans to keep fighting for hardworking Floridians, as she looks out for the interests of Boricuas in the state.
After earning a law degree from Georgetown University, Fentrice Driskell returned to her native Florida and became a partner in an Orlando law firm. At the time, the also Harvard graduate thought she would dedicate herself to community service. But that changed dramatically after the 2016 election that saw Donald Trump’s contentious rise to power.
“I felt like the country was becoming more divided. I started thinking, ‘OK, do I have something to offer?’” the representative in the Florida House of Representatives from the 63rd District told Floricua.
First order of business: to augment the number of women in the state’s House of Representatives. “At the time it was fewer than 25% women [and] that seemed to me woefully out of balance,” said Driskell, who was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2018. She has also been unanimously elected as Leader of the Florida House Democratic Caucus for the 2024–2026 term and will be the first Black woman to serve in that role. This means that if Democrats become the majority party in 2024, Driskell would be the speaker of the House.
‘Tallahassee is Broken’
Now, as she runs for reelection for District 63, which covers part of Tampa and northern Hillsborough County, Driskell says that Tallahassee—the state’s seat of government—is “broken.” That is because the cards are stacked in favor of the powerful and the politically connected, “instead of our hardworking Florida families, small business owners, and seniors,” said Driskell, who received an “A” in the 2021 People First Report Card for consistently voting in favor of her constituents. As always, she wants to ensure that they have access to the things that matter most to hardworking families like her own. These include:
- Supporting small businesses and providing workforce training to create better-paying jobs.
- Expanding affordable housing for hardworking families, young professionals, and seniors by promoting public-private partnerships.
- Protecting land and water by promoting energy independence and helping Florida lead in solar energy. She also proposes to ban fracking, fight offshore drilling, and hold polluters accountable. “What has been happening with red tide has been unconscionable. We need more resources dedicated not just to the research, but also to the cleanup of those areas because people are getting very concerned about what’s happening with our environment.”
- Providing children with quality education. Driskell, who is a product of Florida’s public schools, said she is committed to “fight to keep our kids safe and to fully fund our schools in Hillsborough County, from early childhood through college or career and technical education, to ensure a brighter future for our children.”
An Eye on Puerto Ricans
Driskell is keenly aware of the issues affecting Boricuas across the state, particularly those in Central Florida.
“We need to pay a lot more attention to the needs of that community,” she said. “One issue that bubbled up to me all the way here in Tampa is the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault that is happening back on the island, and how I, as a Black woman ally and a representative can use my voice to be supportive of the members of the Puerto Rican community here who are trying to help the population back home.”
For this reason, Driskell has been working alongside Puerto Rican lawmaker Daisy Morales of the Florida House of Representatives, who tries to bring greater attention to that issue. At the same time, Driskell said that, like all communities, Boricuas in the state “want to make sure that there are good public schools, that there is access to quality, affordable healthcare, that there is access to good paying jobs.”
You Have the Power
Driskell believes that if people were inspired to vote, they could achieve great changes in one election cycle. “I try to remind people that their vote matters. Look for the candidates who reflect your values and then do what you can to support them. For those who care about the issues, you have to go out and vote.”