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Meet Robin Bartleman, a Democrat running for House District 104

Nearly 250 candidates are vying for state House and state Senate seats in 2020. Try as we will, Florida Politics can’t interview all of them.

Just like in 2016 and 2018, we’re again asking every candidate to complete a questionnaire we believe offers an interesting, albeit, thumbnail sketch of who they are and why they are running. If you are a candidate and would like to complete the questionnaire, email Jason@FloridaPolitics.com.

Today’s feature: Robing Bartleman, a Democratic candidate for House District 104.

 In 25 words or less, why are you running for office?

I am running for office because public service as an elected official is the most direct way to solve problems for people and communities.  I am proud of my record of helping people, setting policy, and making a difference. 

Education background?

– Bachelor of Science in Emotionally Handicapped Education.

– Master of Science in Emotional Disturbance Education with a Certification in Educational Leadership.

What was your first job?

I was hired for my first job at the age of 13 to help my mom with expenses.  I worked the cash register at Tarash (can’t remember the spelling) Pharmacy in Miami off of Miami Gardens Drive and 6th ave.

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Significant other? Kids?

I have two daughters, Sarah is 17 and is graduating from Cypress Bay High School in 2020 and will be attending University of Florida. Emma is 21 and attends Tulane University.

Did you speak with anybody in your political party before deciding on running? Receive any encouragement?

Yes, I spoke with numerous individuals including State Rep. Rick Stark, who is termed out from District 104, Rep. Michael Gottlieb, Rep. Joe Geller, Rep. Dan Daley, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and my dear, friend Rep. Kristin Jacobs.

Who do you count on for advice?

It depends on what advice I am seeking; I am lucky to have many friends and professional acquaintances from various backgrounds and serving in various professions.  I seek out the people who have the most knowledge and experience on the topic.   

Who is your political consultant? Campaign manager?

My campaign manager is Barbara Miller.

Who was the first person to contribute to your campaign? Why did they donate?

Technically, my first donation was from my dear friend, Phil Busey, who set up my PayPal Account.  The next donation was from my long term friend, Larry Davis.  He has supported me since my first campaign in 2000 for Weston City Commission.

Who, if anyone, inspires you in state government?

There are so many state elected officials that inspire me, however, the one that is on the top of my list and am still mourning the loss of is State Rep. Kristin Jacobs. She was truly an inspiring human being, friend and an effective public servant who left this world a better place. She worked effectively across the aisle at the state level and served on numerous committees at the national level advocating for environmental stewardship.

Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it?

There are many reasons that people might not trust elected officials.  Some elected officials are not transparent about their motives. With some their motives turn out to be for special or self interests.  Some are inaccessible and unresponsive.  Some elected officials cross the line on what is right.  As naive as it may sound, I have been in public office to serve and help people and the community.  I try to keep the lines of communication open with my constituents so that I can hear all perspectives and am honest about where I stand.  I am also not afraid to change my mind and to take a stand when I feel strongly about an issue, even when some of my constituents may disagree.

What are 3 issues that you’re running on?  

As a former classroom teacher, I took money out of my own pocket to purchase supplies and faced the requirements of high stakes testing.  I know that the State of Florida does not fund public education adequately and does not even meet the national average of per pupil funding. A high-quality public education system, recruits’ businesses and industry. Paying teachers at the national average would also encourage the recruitment and retention of the best and brightest professionals. As an assistant principal in Liberty City in the middle of the Scott Housing Projects, I have seen the profound impact a high-quality public education can have on children’s lives.  As a School Board Member, I have been fighting for our teachers and our students for the last 15 years. Preserving and funding a high quality public education is not only a moral responsibility, but it is vital to ensure a competent workforce and a healthy economy.   As a state, in addition to increased funding for public education, we must also continue to expand our technical colleges, partner with private industry to expand our apprenticeship programs, and offer more opportunities for students to earn industry certification in high school. 

The western portion of my district borders the Everglades. Preserving our environment is imperative for our future and must be a bipartisan effort.  Floridians have been impacted by coastal and storm water flooding, rising sea levels and salt water intrusion to our water supply. As a member of the Broward County Climate Change Task Force, I have been working with stakeholders and agencies to mitigate the impacts of climate change.  Addressing and adapting to climate change is a major priority and concern, especially given the alarming predictions of how Florida will be impacted.  This issue must be dealt with at a State and regional level including encouraging investments in conservation programs, including the conservation easement program, working with water management districts to increase capacity for collection and storage of storm water, recycling of waste water,  and increasing renewable energy capacity.    

Affordable healthcare and housing are basic needs for all Floridians and we must strengthen and rebuild our economy.  COVID-19 has exacerbated the long-term problems that have existed in Florida; including access to affordable healthcare and Medicaid expansion.  We must also rebuild Florida’s economy which will include providing affordable housing and revamping our unemployment insurance system. This antiquated system must be reformed and help workers get paid by increasing eligibility, increasing the weekly benefit cap, increasing part time eligibility, increasing the maximum number of weeks from 12 to at least 26, waiving the waiting period, and waiving the work search and work registration requirements. Florida’s UI System is one of the worst in the nation at $275 per week for 12 weeks which is unconscionable; Floridians deserve better.

What is a “disruptive” issue you are interested in?

A disruptive issue is on-line shopping.  COVID-19 is expediting the closure of small businesses.  This hurts our local economy, our local real estate market and if the on-line company is located out of state they do not have to pay taxes; this hurts the state’s ability to collect much needed revenue which benefits Florida’s citizens.

What does your legislative district need from Tallahassee?

My district sits on the edge of Everglades; it is imperative that the State mitigates the impact of climate change.

My district is made up of four cities represented by duly elected officials who should not be micromanaged by Tallahassee; they need us to preserve home rule and local control.

Weston led the initiative to overturn the state law that prohibited municipalities from preempting firearm safety legislation.

Pembroke Pines needs funding for their Senior Focal Center, they are also in need of funding for their veterans’ home.

Southwest Ranches needs funding to address road safety issues.

 Who was the best governor in Florida’s modern history?

Walkin’ Lawton Chiles; he was elected my senior year of high school and as an education major in college, we paid close attention to his polices and agenda.  He was committed to the children of Florida. He lead the charge against big tobacco and won.  He used the proceeds to create an anti smoking campaign and programming for our youth.  The past couple of years I have worked closely with Tobacco Free Partnership educating our youth on the dangers of vaping and creating student lead clubs in our schools.  A portion of the proceeds from the lawsuit was used to help establish KidCare, a national model which expanded health care for children across Florida.  As Vice Chair of the Broward County Comprehensive School Health Advisory Committee, we continue to advocate and create programming that will keep our children tobacco free, link them to mental health services and I continue to advocate for changes to KidCare to ensure more children have access to the program.  As a former classroom teacher, I know how important access to healthcare is to our families and his push for early education and quality childcare helped ensured that children entered our classrooms ready to learn. 

If you could amend the Florida Constitution, what would you change?

I would add language to reverse the SB1794, making it more difficult to put constitutional amendments on the ballot by petition and including increasing the trigger for judicial review and preventing signatures from rolling over.  This is the only recourse voters have when their elected officials do not support their views and there must be way for people’s voices to be heard.

Are yard signs an important part of campaigning in your district?

I have many single-family homes in my district.  I do not believe they win an election, but I do know that after 4 county-wide elections, my friends, volunteers and supporters always look forward to putting them in their yards!

What’s the first thing you read each morning?

The Sun Sentinel.

Where do you get your political news?

CNN, New York Times, Huffington Post, Florida Politics, and local newspapers.

Social media presence? Twitter handle?

Robin Bartleman – Personal Facebook Page

Robin Bartleman for Florida House of Representatives – Campaign Facebook

@bartlemanfor104 – Instagram

@Robin_Bartleman – Twitter

In 280 characters, what’s a Tweet that best describes your campaign message?

As a special education teacher, assistant principal in Liberty City and elected leader, I have dedicated my life to helping people and our community.  I want to take my experience and passion for public service to Tallahassee to improve our state’s schools, healthcare system, environment, and economy.

Hobbies? 

I enjoy weight training, meditating and spending time with my daughters and three dogs!

Favorite sport and sports team? 

I personally enjoy biking and weightlifting; however, since the pandemic I have not been able to go to my gym.  I grew up in Miami so of course, the Dolphins!

Written By

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at jason@floridapolitics.com or on Twitter at @JasonDelgadoFL.

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