Republican Richard Santos is mounting a campaign for the seat opening in Seminole County’s House District 29.
That seat is being vacated by term-limited Republican Rep. Scott Plakon after the 2022 election and his wife, Republican Rachel Plakon, had established herself early as a favorite to succeed him.
Not so fast, Santos, a master deputy in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and a military veteran, says. He praised Scott Plakon’s representation, but said he’s done enough.
“It kind of bothers me — it bothers a lot of people — that my opponent’s family has been in that seat since 2008, with the exception of two years. That’s just a power grab. It’s a thinly veiled attempt to circumvent term limits,” Santos said. “I don’t see it any other way.”
Scott Plakon has held the HD 29 seat since 2014. Previously, he had been elected to two terms in HD 37. He lost reelection there in 2012, then ran in HD 29 after redistricting.
Luther “Luke” Dowe, who ran against Plakon in the 2020 Primary, losing with just 17% of the vote, has changed parties and is running again this year as a Democrat.
Santos, who works in real estate, has lived in Seminole County since 1987, and in Sanford since 2004. He holds an associate’s degree in law enforcement from Savannah Tech in Georgia, a bachelor’s degree in politics and economics from Eastern Oregon University, and a master’s degree in business administration from Trident University International in California.
He ran for political office once before, for Sanford City Council, in 2010. Otherwise, he considers himself apolitical.
He calls himself a constitutional conservative, concerned not just with what Democrats are doing, but also with what Republican leadership in Florida has been doing in recent years.
“I decided to run for the state House because I see the direction our state and our country are headed. I’m a constitutional conservative and every day I see that we’re giving our rights away, and we’re not going to be able to continue the quality of life we’ve come to know and love as Americans,” Santos said.
That includes the right to home rule found in the Florida Constitution.
“Local governments have got to be able to decide for their own citizens. Home rule is a big thing for me. People in Tallahassee don’t know what’s good for folks Seminole County,” Santos said. “We get angry if the federal government tells us what to do as a state, yet we’ve got folks in the state government that want to do that to municipalities.”
Santos is married and has seven children. He has served both as an enlisted member in the Army, including in Desert Storm, and as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserves, currently as a lieutenant.
In the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, he’s served as a detective, and as a street officer, serving in homicide, traffic and patrol.
“I have a grasp on big picture issues, national security and public safety. And I get out to meet people. These are things that are important to them,” Santos said. “They watch cities burn to the ground while they hear the media say we should be ashamed to be outraged. We’re spending money we don’t have for programs that we don’t need.”