Newly-elected Democratic state Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil heads to Tallahassee soon expecting to focus on public education reform “as the most likely” area to get anything done, and playing defense against any state efforts to limit Home Rule powers for cities and counties.

They are the two issues that Goff-Marcil focused on throughout her campaign which led to an upset victory in Florida House District 30 over two-term Republican incumbent state Rep. Bob Cortes. The district covers a piece of northern Orange County, where Goff-Marcil is from, and a swath of south-central Seminole County, which was Cortes’ home.

Goff-Marcil is one of three Democrats who flipped districts that at least partly lay in Orange County, along with state Reps. Geraldine Thompson and Anna Eskamani, flipping the partisan strength of Orange County’s delegation from five Republicans and four Democrats, to seven Democrats and two Republicans. Thompson has been there before, representing another district. Eskamani and Goff-Marcil are new.

Her district, which includes at least pieces of several cities including Maitland, where Goff-Marcil was a city councilwoman, and throughout the campaign and before Goff-Marcil said she was aware of the deep frustration of city and county officials who felt they were under attack by the Florida Legislature seeking to pre-empt local authority in areas from community redevelopment agencies to local ordinances regarding tree canopy protection.

“And then there were a lot of funding issues where they tried to pass these laws limiting [local] funding … taking away money from local government, meaning they would have to find money somewhere else,” Goff-Marcil. “So that means a reduction of services, or somewhere else they’re going to have to try to get a fee or a tax to make up for it.”

Coming from a city council, Goff-Marcil sees the struggle for local control, particularly in pressing for higher standards in local communities compared with state rules, as a bipartisan issue, something she and her Republican colleagues on the city council agreed upon.

She also ran on an environmental platform, particularly seeking to make sure the Flordia Forever Fund is not raided for purposes other than conservation land preservation. When reminded that she might have a supportive governor in Republican Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, who pledged environmental protection during his campaign, Goff-Marcil responded, “That’s great. If he’s willing to work on this problem, I am happy to work on it with him.”

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