Adam Botana, a Bonita Springs business owner, became the third Republican to file to succeed state Rep. Ray Rodrigues.
He said a commitment to cleaning up Florida’s waterways drove him to run.
“My family has been here since the 1950s, so I really understand how water quality has become a big issue for us,” he said.
Botana’s family owns and operates Bay Water Exclusive Boat Club in Bonita Springs. His business cards list him tongue-in-cheek as “Head Boat Washer;” the corporate organization there counts him as vice president.
As a small business owner, he said he understands the impact regulations can have on commerce. He also wants to keep taxes in the state low.
“I understand first hand what impact clean water has on our economy, our health care and our tourism industry,” he said.
This marks Botana’s first run for office, though he’s volunteered in Republican politics before. After 2019’s hazards, he felt drawn into service.
“Realistically, I wasn’t looking for this job, but it pushed me into it,” he said of last year’s environmental disasters. “I feel compelled to run.”
Right now, Botana is one of three Republicans running in Florida House District 76:
— Sanibel City Council member Jason Maughan has already raised more than $100,000 for the race.
— Jesse Purdon, previously Deputy District Director for former U.S. Rep. Curt Clawson, jumped into the race in June.
Botana arrives with the least political experience, but hopes to find a niche as the non-pol in the race.
“I have never been a big government guy or a big system guy,” Botana said. “I’m a statesman more than anything; I’m not a politician.”
But he has seen Tallahassee in action. Former Gov. Rick Scott appointed Botana to the state’s Boating Advisory Council last year.
While in Tallahassee advocating for the industry, he said he liked actions taking place on both sides of the aisle as far as water quality.
But he also ran into the sentiment that wealthy communities like Bonita Springs don’t need state support. He hopes the algae issues last year dispel that.
“I know we’re a donor community, but we need our two cents back for the dollar we produce,” he said.
Beyond the environment, Botana said he will stand for American ideals. His family on his father’s side fled Fidel Castro’s Cuba, and he understand the importance of freedom. His grandfather was in a prison and his father came to the U.S. at age 13 on the Freedom Flights in 1968.
The candidate lists border security as a top priority. He dismisses the notion many of those crossing the border now share a history with those fleeing Cuba.
“That’s a different animal right there, Castro compared to what is going on now,” he said. “It’s a night and day issue. We had 50,000 people disappear in Cuba since the 1960s. It’s a different situation.
“And my Dad assimilated into our culture. He didn’t try and change anything. He was the epitome of an American once he came here. My grandfather and grandmother have since passed on. But that’s a real asylum speaker.”