Republican Scotland Calhoun Perez has entered the House District 48 race to take on Democratic incumbent state Rep. Amy Mercado.

Calhoun Perez, a full-time college student at Valencia College and legal assistant, declared herself to be a Christian constitutional conservative and vowed to run on a platform of limited government, quality jobs, and school choice.

She’s the first challenger for Mercado, who was first elected in 2016 and is a former chair of the Orange County Democratic Party. The district covers most of south-central Orlando and Orange County, with an arm coming north into areas in east Orange County. The area has a heavy Puerto Rican population.

Calhoun Perez, the daughter of Gina Perez-Calhoun, who is running for Orange County Commission, is of Puerto Rican heritage, as is Mercado, the daughter of state Sen. Victor Torres.

“District 48 needs a representative who truly listens and cares,” Calhoun Perez stated in a news release. “Far too many people feel abandoned and without a voice. I’m a lifelong Orlando resident, and I know firsthand the challenges folks in our area, particularly young people like me, are having to find quality jobs that pay enough to support a family. We’ve got to do more to make sure policies are in place to attract and grow industries and businesses that will provide them.

“I’m a Christian constitutional conservative, in that order,” she added. “Government is the employee of the people, not the other way around. I believe strongly that every voice and life matter, and I plan to work diligently to support lower taxes and broader educational options for people from all walks of life. High school students, especially, need to know that college is not the only path to a valid and valued career.”

Calhoun Perez strongly supports efforts to combat human trafficking and to provide greater support for victims of child abuse, including increased training for parents and educators in how to detect and respond to abuse.

To date, without an opponent, Mercado’s campaign fundraising has been less than robust. Through May she had raised about $40,000 – nothing in May – and had spent about $30,000 of it.

“We are so proud to see young conservatives taking an active interest in Florida’s government,” Chadwick Hardee, vice chairman of the Orange County Republican Executive Committee, stated in the release. “Scotland is an impressive young person, and we are excited to support her.”

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