Fin­gers crossed for new Florida gov­er­nor

The Columbus Dispatch - - Opinion - Mi­ami Her­ald

Newly in­stalled Gov. Ron Desan­tis sent Florid­i­ans a bi­par­ti­san mes­sage that they haven’t heard from lead­ers in Tal­la­has­see for a while. In his 16-minute in­au­gu­ra­tion speech on Tuesday, Desan­tis sounded sin­cere when he spoke of Repub­li­cans and Democrats work­ing to­gether for the good of Florida.

Stand­ing out­side the Old Cap­i­tal, Desan­tis at 40 a young state chief, spoke as a reg­u­lar guy, ad­mit­ting that he is “con­scious of my own de­fi­cien­cies.” He vowed, how­ever, that Florid­i­ans would get “a full heart, my best judg­ment and the courage of my con­vic­tions.”

We’ll take it — and hope for the best.

Re­gard­less of whether or not one voted for Desan­tis, for whom Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump went all in early in the cam­paign, Florid­i­ans can take heart that he comes across as per­son­able and, even bet­ter, ap­proach­able. We hope these char­ac­ter­is­tics ex­tend to his re­la­tion­ship with the me­dia, whom for­mer Gov. Rick Scott stonewalled and too of­ten shut out in the face of chal­leng­ing ques­tions. We hope Desan­tis is com­mit­ted to open­ness and trans­parency with the peo­ple he rep­re­sents.

Desan­tis said he will build on an in­her­ited solid eco­nomic foun­da­tion and, un­like Scott, now Florida’s ju­nior se­na­tor, he will cham­pion Florida’s en­vi­ron­men­tal fu­ture and pro­tect it. He high­lighted his com­mit­ment to deal with the blue-green al­gae and red tide be­dev­il­ing Florida’s coasts. That’s a first in eight years for Florid­i­ans, who en­dured a gov­er­nor for whom cli­mate change did not ex­ist. At least Desan­tis gets the crit­i­cal link be­tween our en­vi­ron­ment, our econ­omy and our very fu­ture.

He also sig­naled he will tackle health care in Florida, likely a project for new Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, a health care ex­ec­u­tive, the high­est rank­ing Latin woman in the state’s po­lit­i­cal his­tory. Desan­tis should be praised for se­lect­ing Nuñez, a re­spected veteran mem­ber of the Florida Leg­is­la­ture.

“The peo­ple of Florida de­serve re­lief,” Desan­tis said of the state’s health care woes. He’s right, but let’s hope that re­lief en­tails at least a com­pro­mise that in­cludes ex­pand­ing Med­i­caid for 1 mil­lion needy Florid­i­ans — re­lief that Scott re­fused to grant.

The new gov­er­nor sig­naled a slight change in school cur­ricu­lum. Desan­tis be­lieves we should re­turn to teach­ing civics, so stu­dents can learn the “du­ties of ci­ti­zen­ship.” That’s a solid idea. Desan­tis also says that vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion should be en­hanced — build­ing on the con­ser­va­tives’ idea that not ev­ery stu­dent should head for col­lege. He is a pro­po­nent of school choice, of course, and we urge him to not un­der­cut pub­lic schools solely to boost for-profit char­ters.

Like his pre­de­ces­sor, he said he will ag­gres­sively move to name ju­di­cial can­di­dates only con­cerned with in­ter­pret­ing the law — not leg­is­lat­ing from the bench. Desan­tis will be in Mi­ami Wednesday to an­nounce a nom­i­nee for one of three open­ings on the Florida Supreme Court. He should cor­rect the ab­sence of any African-amer­i­can jus­tice on that bench.

Also on Tuesday, Desan­tis gave ev­ery in­di­ca­tion he will sus­pend Broward County Sher­iff Scott Is­rael for his of­fice’s fail­ures dur­ing the mas­sacre at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Fe­bru­ary. Re­ports are that Is­rael has told his staff he ex­pects to be re­moved — and he should be.

Desan­tis ap­pears to be off to a solid start. Let’s hope — for Florida’s sake — that he stays on track.

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