It is crucially important for voters to have choices, and voters in State House District 86 have two interesting candidate choices at the polls next week.
District 86 includes all of Wellington, Royal Palm Beach and Loxahatchee Groves, along with several communities to the east. The Democratic candidate is three-term incumbent Mark Pafford, who is being challenged by political newcomer Stuart Mears, a Republican.
A fourth-generation Floridian, Mears has deep roots in Palm Beach County. A U.S. Army veteran, he has worked as a school teacher and is currently an administrator with the Palm Beach County School District focused primarily on adult and community education. He wants to be a “voice for teachers in Tallahassee.” Key points of his campaign are his opposition to Common Core (now Florida Standards) and a his goal to see to it that teachers are paid better. He also has experience in business through his work as a Realtor.
We found Mears to be articulate and passionate about the issues he cares deeply about. However, while he considers himself to me a moderate, he tends to tow the Republican line on social issues, business issues, taxes and more.
Pafford, on the other hand, is clearly among the more liberal members of the Florida House of Representatives. He is perhaps the state’s most outspoken advocate on homeless issues, Medicaid expansion, environmental issues and more. If re-elected, Pafford will step into a lead role in Tallahassee as house minority leader, speaking for the entire Democratic caucus. Having served three terms already, he is seeking his final two-year term before vacating the seat due to term limits.
As the self-proclaimed voice of “everyday Floridians” in Tallahassee, Pafford is often the only person in the legislature routinely reminding his colleagues that there are far too many people in need here in Florida. While this has not always made him popular, it is a necessary point of view. He is also well known for stellar constituent service and the ability to work the back channels in Tallahassee to “make bad bills better.”
Both of these candidates have noble aspirations and want to do good things for their constituents. We commend Mears for having the dedication and confidence to seek this post, however, at the end of the day, Pafford’s experience, connections and incoming leadership position make him the better choice.
The Town-Crier endorses the re-election of Mark Pafford to the Florida House of Representatives in District 86.
As we have said before, midterm elections always feature lower turnout than presidential election years. That is too bad. Democracy functions best when more people vote. No matter whether your opinions on this race differ from ours, be sure to get to the polls and make your voice heard!