Jared Moskowitz holds real sway in Florida House
Jared Moskowitz, the high-octane incumbent from Florida House District 97, has established himself as an effective Democratic voice in the Republican-dominated Legislature. The 37-year-old attorney has served for three terms and the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board recommends voters in this northwest Broward County district return Moskowitz
him for a fourth.
He is opposed by Imtiaz Mohammad, 52, the publisher and CEO of the Asian Times, who grew up in Pakistan.
Moskowitz, now a resident of Coral Springs, served for six years on the Parkland City Commission prior to his election to the Legislature.
After the February massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, he immediately rushed home from Tallahassee, his life forever changed. The story he tells about that day makes you want to weep. Some victims, he said, couldn’t be identified because of the oversized blasts from an AR-15 high-velocity rifle.
Moskowitz knew that for the tragedy to make a difference in Tallahassee, Republican legislative leaders had to see the detritus, too. So he set about making that happen. After House Speaker Richard Corcoran bore witness to the horror, he agreed to do something to address the specifics that had unfolded at Stoneman Douglas.
“I would have liked an assault weapons ban,” Moskowitz told the editorial board. “Of course, I would have. But that bill was not on the table.”
Moskowitz signed on to a bill — supported by a fragile majority of lawmakers — that requires someone who wants to buy a rifle from a licensed dealer to be at least 21 years old, to undergo a criminal background check and to wait three days before taking possession.
The bill also banned bump stocks, which convert semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons; expanded the Baker Act program to let police officers confiscate weapons from people whom they consider dangerous; and required the hardening of schools with metal detectors, bulletproof windows and more armed guards. It also allows teachers to carry guns in counties whose school boards approve.
“I had an F-rating with the NRA, but they upped me to an F-minus,” Moskowitz told us, with some pride. He says NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer “holds me personally responsible” for the first guncontrol legislation to pass the Florida Legislature in a generation.
Moskowitz wants more done to protect students and the public in general. Besides a ban on military-style assault rifles, he advocates universal background checks, gun buyback programs and repeal of the state measure that prevents local governments from passing their own gun safety ordinances.
As a testament to his effectiveness and competence, Moskowitz serves as the ranking Democratic member of the important Appropriations Committee, a role that has enabled him to direct considerable funds back to the district. Given that position, we would encourage him to get involved in addressing the problem of algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee and surrounding waters. The problem doesn’t affect District 97 directly, but it’s an environmental issue that if not solved, could severely impact the tourist industry and the economy of the entire state.
We also would like to see him more strongly address the issue of sea level rise, and the work that must be done now to protect our region long-term.
Moskowitz works for Broward-based AshBritt, one of the nation’s largest disaster response firms. After Hurricane Irma, the company was criticized for its slow performance in picking up debris. But as we’ve since learned, Gov. Rick Scott awarded emergency debris pick-up contracts to other companies after the storm, at rates that disrupted established contracts across the state.
An important “plus” on Moskowitz’ resume is his service as a city commissioner. A constant refrain from local officials is that legislators pass laws without sufficiently understanding the impact on local governments. It’s a valid concern. And legislators who have served in local government tend to have greater empathy for the impact back home.
Mohammad, who resides in Miramar, is one of a growing number of Muslims seeking elective office. His views on issues, from gun control to raising teachers’ pay, conform to the views of most South Florida Democrats. If he doesn’t win this time, we would encourage him to remain active in politics, perhaps gaining experience by running for a local office.
Moskowitz and Mohammad are the only candidates competing for the District 97 seat, so the winner of the Aug. 28 primary will head to Tallahassee. All voters in the district, which includes Coral Springs, Sunrise, Plantation and Tamarac, are eligible to cast ballots in the race.
Editorials are the opinion of the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board and written by one of its members or a designee. The Editorial Board consists of Editorial Page Editor Rosemary O'Hara, Andy Reid and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson.