State Senator Corey Simon, R-Tallahassee, made a visit to Apalachicola June 20 at The Station Raw Bar as part of a fundraising event for the Franklin County Republican Executive Committee. Simon will face a Democratic opponent in the fall as he campaigns for a second term. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]
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Simon touts school choice in campaign stop

Freshman State Senator Corey Simon, running for a second term in the state legislature, stopped by Apalachicola last month as part of a fundraising and campaign swing in Franklin County.

After a robust introduction by Sheriff A.J. Smith, and some get-fired-up remarks to the Republican audience by county chairman Kristy Banks, Simon spoke June 20 in front of The Station Raw Bar in front of about 50 local members of the GOP.

Franklin County Commissioner Ottice Amison, left, chats with State Sen. Corey Simon, center, and his campaign manager Cooper Harrison. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

“Quite honestly I ran from politics for a long time,” said Simon, who first got an offseason call in 2004 during his professional football career, from the Florida State University chaplain. The Southern Baptist preacher told him “God’s called you to politics.”

“I started laughing,” Simon said. “I wasn’t interested in politics; I didn’t feel I had the calling.”

Later, he would hear from former Florida Senate president Wilton Simpson, who told him “you need to run for office when you finish playing, you’re better with people.”

But with a son in his senior year of high school, Simon said he decided “I’m not going to leave him at the finish line” and so he told the governor and other Republican leaders no.

“But when you don’t do one job they find another job for you,” he said, and so Simon, a small business owner in the financial and medical services fields, was tapped to lead a state agency as CEO of Volunteer Florida.

“I ran out of excuses why I shouldn’t be doing this,” Simon said. “I wasn’t jumping in to be a politician, I was jumping in to serve. Power is meant to be given out, not harnessed at the top.”

Simon, who grew up in South Florida, said the fact that his mom, who worked at Publix, sent him to Pompano Beach Elementary “on the other side of the tracks” instilled in him a strong belief in the value of school choice, a key reason why he chose to be a Republican when he registered to vote at age 18.

“School choice is always something I’ve been passionate about,” he said. “That was a big part of it.”

In addition, he favored Republicans’ national approach to maintaining small government and in keeping taxation in check. “I was a kid coming into a professional sports arena,” Simon said. “I can lose 33 percent or 40 percent (to taxes). It made sense to me.”

The state senator vowed to keep up the fight against exploratory oil drilling on waters in Calhoun County that flow down into in Apalachicola Bay, and noted that he has worked to secure up to $25 million to help tApalachicola implement projects that will improve surface water and groundwater quality within the Apalachicola Bay Area of Critical State Concern. While there has been a fund created in the budget where these monies could go, the recently enacted budget did not include funding for any such projects.

“It is unconscionable that efforts to drill for oil are happening at the same time that we are fighting for the revitalization of the Apalachicola Bay,” he said. “We cannot allow the actions of one irresponsible body to impact the limited precious natural resources that belong to the entire region.

“I’m not willing to sacrifice any of that hard work to be sure we have a safe habitat for our fisheries,” he said, noting that he had been talking with Apalachicola Riverkeeper on how best to counter the oil drilling proposal.

“I need every bullet in the chamber,” Simon said. “I understand what Calhoun County is looking for, they’re looking at their moment in the sun, but it can’t come at the expense of what we have here in Franklin County and Apalachicola.

“We’re going to continue to fight, and if we can’t get them to quit, we’re going to force them to quit,” he said.

Simon also spoke in favor of beefed-up workforce education, noting that the average tradesperson in the state right now is nearly 60 years old.

“We (the state of Florida) are the 14th largest economy in the world,” he said. “We’re going to fall behind (but) workforce education can be a huge contributing factor pushing us forward to that top 10,”

He said Florida had made strides in the past year in addressing the spiraling cost of property insurance. He said that Citizens Property Insurance Co., considered an insurer of last resort for homeowners who can’t otherwise obtain property insurance, had gone from a $2.2 billion deficit to a $750 million surplus by the state being able to attract additional companies to the marketplace.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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