Federal, State Legislators Get Graded on Opposition to All Aboard Florida

Posted on August 4, 2016

A group vehemently opposed to Florida’s cross-state rail expansion from Orlando to Miami graded state lawmakers on their position to All Aboard Florida in a report released Thursday. Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida (CARE FL), a group opposing AAF, ranked local, state and federal lawmakers and political candidates on their positions on the  $1.5 billion project which will run from Orlando to Miami with various stops in between.

CARE FL calls the AAF/Brightline rail project a threat to public safety and “current way of life of communities throughout the Treasure Coast."

The group sent candidates a twelve question survey covering both qualitative and quantitative issues, allowing candidates to add additional comments to outline their stance and explain their beliefs on the rail expansion project.

Some of the questions asked included what benefits candidates thought the project would bring to local residents and visitors as well as elaborating concerns about the project. Another question asked what candidates would do to stop the expansion of AAF if elected to office.

CARE FL sent the survey to candidates for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, the Florida Legislature and county commissions in Martin, Indian River, St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties.

Fifty candidates were ranked in six different tiers -- “Champions” and an “A-F” letter grade system.

Nine received a “Champion” ranking, while 26 earned an “A.” Ten candidates earned a “B,” three candidates earned a “C,” one earned a “D,” and two earned an “F.” CARE FL said candidates who received low grades did not share the group’s views about the AAF project.

“Champions” included U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., who is currently running for U.S. Senate. Murphy is running against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who supports AAF, in the Democratic primary.

Other state lawmakers -- including incoming Florida Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, also earned the “Champion” title. Negron said he organized the first local meeting of elected officials and leaders opposing AAF.

Other Treasure Coast Republicans like Reps. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, and Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, also made the “Champions” list.

“The negative impacts on the health, safety…and quality of life of residents of the Treasure Coast are tremendous,” Harrell said in the survey.

“The fact that these very busy leaders took the time to respond to our survey shows how important this issue is to voters,” said Chairman of the CARE FL Steering Committee Brent Hanlon. “We found that most candidates share our concerns about the project’s costs, safety implications and environmental impacts. This is why CARE FL is working tirelessly to educate the public on the negative financial implications of rail expansion for our communities and municipalities, as well as its damaging safety, environmental and waterway impacts.”

“CARE FL’s 2016 Candidate Report Card lets Floridians impacted by this misguided rail project know where the candidates seeking to represent them stand on this important issue, and provides them with valuable insight and information when they head to the polls to cast their votes,” said Jane Feinstein, community volunteer and member of the CARE FL Steering Committee.. “We are pleased to provide special recognition to our champions, who have had the courage to put the safety and well-being of their communities above special interests.”

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