The coalition, which formed last year to focus on conservation needs of North Florida,
will now work to ensure the region has a strong voice on a variety of issues
Leaders from North Florida today gathered at the state capitol to announce an expanded mission for Stand Up For North Florida, a coalition formed earlier this year to focus on the water and conservation needs of North and North Central Florida. The group’s chairman, former Congressman Steve Southerland, was joined by a cross-section of local leaders from across the region to announce that the group has filed to become a 501(c)(4) organization, which will allow it to have a stronger presence and influence during the upcoming legislative session.
“Stand Up For North Florida exists to ensure that the volume of our voices in Tallahassee is just as loud as those from the rest of the state,” said Southerland. “Florida is a big state with a lot of interests competing for attention here in the capitol, and we believe that the time has come for an organized, united effort to protect the vital natural resources and the best interests of the citizens of North Florida.”
“When we started last year, we said that inequitable funding was going to be a problem, and, indeed, that is the case,” continued Southerland. “With 85 percent of the money designated for regional specific projects in the 2017-18 budget going to South Florida at the expense of the rest of the state, up from 75 percent the previous year, it is clear that that’s not right, and we have had enough. We plan to work together with members of our legislative delegation and stakeholders from across our communities to make the case that North Florida is a crucial part of our state and our policy priorities should reflect that.”
“I look forward to working with these dedicated local leaders and my colleagues in the Legislature to protect our important natural resources and to look out for the interests of the hardworking men and women of North Florida,” said State Representative Stan McClain (R-23).
Stand Up For North Florida board members Wayne Harris, former Okaloosa County Commissioner, and David Biddle, Gilchrist County Republican State Committeeman, also made remarks in support of the coalition’s expanded priorities.
The following leaders also attended the press conference:
Tom Barnette from Hernando County, President of Euro-American Tours
Wanda Range from Gadsden County, Mayor of Midway
Leslie Steele from Gadsden County, City Manager of Midway
Maureen France from Volusia County, former Deland City Commissioner
Christine Dobkowski from Marion County, Mayor of Belleview
Charlotte Barber from Leon County, retired teacher
Kathryn Babcock from Leon County
Tom Barber from Marion County, Legislative Aide to Rep. Stan McClain