League of Women Voters &Florida Nurses Association hold candidate forum on healthcare

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Many Florida voters who requested their November general election ballots by mail are receiving them this week. That means there will be candidate forums like the one on healthcare issues Wednesday night in St. Petersburg sponsored by the Florida Nurses Association and the League of Women Voters.

No Republican candidates showed up, and all five of the candidates who were there support the proposed constitutional amendment allowing the medical use of marijuana. That includes the Democratic opponent of incumbent state Senator Jeff Brandes.

Judithanne McLauchlan is a long-time USF St. Petersburg professor of Political Science. She’s running for Pinellas and Hillsborough’s state Senate District 22.

Although the League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization, Brandes recently attacked McLauchlan and the LMV on campaign mailers.

“I’m a proud member of the League of Women Voters and I thought tonight would be a good opportunity for my opponent to apologize for the television ads he’s running right now, lying about me and attacking the League of Women Voters.”

McLauchlan expressed her full support for Florida to accept the $51 billion in Medicaid expansion offered by the federal government.

”My opponent was the only vote when there was a Republican-compromised bill to get this done, one senator voted against it and that was Jeff Brandes.”

The no-party affiliated candidate for House Rep District 70, Philip Garrett, said full-time school nurses could off-set a lot of hospital and after-hour urgent care costs.

”I’m a government employee. I’ve been a government employee for 22 years. I pay $6,000 in health insurance. I have a $300 deduction if I have to take one of my kids to the emergency room. Nurse practitioners could reduce medical costs by being there in the daytime for all of us.”

All the candidates at the forum are in favor of Amendment 2 to legalize of medical marijuana. That includes Steve Sarnoff, a Democrat running for House District 66, stretching across Pinellas Park and Clearwater. His opponent, Christopher Latvala, has not publicly taken a stance on the amendment, but he was recently polled to be ahead. Sarnoff has a sister with epilepsy, who he says could benefit from the Charlotte Web strain.

“Florida had a reputation, only a couple years ago of being one of the largest pill mill states in the nation. This is an alternative to pill mills.”

Edward Briggs, the event organizer, told WMNF a little bit about the FNA.

”The Florida Nurses Association is the professional organization that represents all nurses in the state of Florida. So it’s important for us to make sure that our members and the community is educated on key essential healthcare issues.”

Trevor Pettiford of Bay News 9 ended the forum with a special plea to Florida voters:

”This year, find two people to take to vote. It’s not just a right, it’s a responsibility.”

There will be another candidate forum Thursday at the St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus, beginning at 7:00 p.m. You can also find a voter guide to the constitutional amendments at BeReadytoVote.org.

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