Newly minted Rep. Susan Plasencia pulled the upset of the night in Central Florida.
The Orlando Republican managed to unseat three-term Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat, in House District 37. That’s a district where Democrat Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election by more than 11 percentage points.
As she heads to Tallahassee as part of a Republican supermajority in the House, she wants to fulfill a promise of effectiveness.
“What I understood and received from voters is they needed someone who was going to do something in Tallahassee,” she said.
Voters at doors told her they felt Smith spent more time politicking instead of working to pass legislation or bring resources to the district. She intends to focus on accomplishing material gains for her constituents.
She already has licensing reform as part of her agenda. It’s wrong, she said, that Floridians cannot obtain a license as a beautician without completing a GED high school equivalency program, and shared a personal story why that bothers her.
“I have a friend who is 45, had children early and didn’t finish high school,” Plasencia shared. “Her husband is a marine and she has traveled the world. She now manages a Circle K, where she does the accounting, payroll and hiring. But what she can’t do is go to beauty school.”
The lawmaker isn’t the first in her family to join the House. Rene “Coach P” Plasencia served most of four terms there, leaving office after the 2022 Regular Legislative Session for professional opportunities.
The new Rep. Plasencia has discussed how to accomplish goals in the Legislature, and also with other lawmakers and fellow freshman Representatives who helped with her campaign.
“I’m very excited to be part of a strong legislative team,” she said.
Plasencia also addressed a controversy in the last days of her campaign. Photos from a private investigator were provided to Florida Politics that suggested Plasencia, who moved into the district and voted from a new address, was still living at a home she owns with her mother. Plasencia said at the time the photos only show she was spending time caring for her ailing mother in hospice care.
But she now expresses the most frustration that those photos showed vehicles and license plates for the individuals she is living with at a home off Colonial Drive.
“I didn’t appreciate other members of my household were exposed like that,” she said. “I chose to be in public office. I chose to be in the public eye. They did not. I didn’t think it was fair to expose them to that, especially given the reason I wasn’t there.”
Plasencia said she is still living at the home with a number of other adults, but will only continue to stay there “a little longer.” “I am also moving soon to a home closer to University (Boulevard) and Dean (Road),” she said.
The Republican remains proud of how she ran her campaign, she said. That included knocking on over 60,000 doors in the district since March. She wants to maintain an honest communication with constituents.
She stressed that when it comes to services, she does not see party.
“I see all my constituents the same,” she said. “We all want individual freedoms. We all want to protect the environment. We all want better schools. We all want a better education.”
November 9, 2022 at 6:46 pm
Sooooo glad he will no longer be our State Representative. All he did was grandstand and never even passed a bill. And my friends told me he had the nerve to raise money and go after black legislators in his own party who didn’t think like him. Nothing but grandstanding always looking to have a microphone in his face… and didn’t do squat for us. So happy we finally got somebody thats going to do something
November 10, 2022 at 11:01 am
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