Asked to name the most critical issue facing Florida's 18th congressional district, Brian Mast didn't hesitate: "Water."
The district extends from Lake Okeechobee's eastern shore to the St. Lucie estuary, where blankets of guacamole-like algae from the lake kept people off the water and made national news this year. The district also includes swaths of the Indian River Lagoon, where massive fish die-offs also made national news this year. In light of this, Mast's answer to the Treasure Coast Newspaper's editorial board might sound easy or obvious -- until you consider that his opponent said "real opportunities for American families."
This was not an isolated incident. Mast, a Republican, has consistently spoken up for clean water initiatives. He openly supports the acquisition of land south of Lake Okeechobee as the centerpiece of the plan to restore the flow of freshwater to Florida Bay, reducing discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. This is the plan that State Senator Joe Negron (R-Stuart) has championed; the one that more than 200 Everglades scientists have backed; and the focus of the Now or Neverglades Declaration, which Mast enthusiastically signed. Mast's opponent, democrat Randy Perkins, has refused to sign the declaration.
Perkins' explanation for his refusal has echoed the talking points that the sugar industry has repeatedly issued in opposition to the land acquisition. In fact sugar industry giants Florida Crystals and US Sugar are important clients of Perkins' business, so he might be expected to support the industry's position on this issue.
Meanwhile Mast vows to make enacting the solution a priority if he wins this race, saying that clean water "is vital to our way of life and our economy in Florida, and particularly in District 18.”
The distinction between these candidates is clear, and Bullsugar.org endorses Brian Mast over Randy Perkins to represent District 18 in the U.S. House of Representatives.