Professor Coleman Seeks Grassroots Support

Todays News


The traditional Old Florida feel of east Manatee County drew Liv Coleman to live there. It’s a lifestyle she doesn’t see considered in Tallahassee. “Tallahassee doesn’t see the same problems or pursue the same dreams as voters,” Coleman says. Now the Democrat is running for Florida Representative in deeply Republican District 73, but believes voters will find more to support in her platform than those of Republican opponents.

A Political Science professor at the University of Tampa, Coleman would arrive in Tallahassee with an understanding of state government. And she says she would focus not on special interests lobbying lawmakers but on the real world needs of constituents. That includes expanding Medicaid and exploring the possibility of free community college and technical school in the state of Florida. “Those are issues that have broad-based support across the country,” she says.

Improving educational access would also help commerce in the region, says Coleman. “I’d like to see people get jobs right here in the community that may pay a good wage,” she says. She looks toward similar programs in Tennessee that garnered bipartisan support in the state.

In terms of lower education, she’d like the state to shift away from high-stakes testing. The state does not need to continue with federal Common Core standards, she says, and should instead allow local leaders to focus on curriculum needs. She does want funding at the state level focused on improving traditional schools, where the vast majority of Florida students are enrolled.

On issues like gun control, she says there’s plenty to like and dislike about a recent measure passed in the Legislature following a mass shooting at a Parkland high school. She appreciates improving background checks, for example, but would like to have seen attention on a gunshot loophole allowing people to bypass regulations by purchasing from individuals. And she does not support arming teachers. At least lawmakers finally broached topics like increasing the gun buying age, she says. “A lot of lawmakers still are afraid to even talk about it,” she says.

Coleman works in Tampa, but her husband teaches computer science at New College of Florida in Sarasota. Growing up in Minneapolis, she moved here with family in 2015. This fall, she will be teaching one less course so she can spend more time greeting voters and building grassroots support for her state House campaign.

Coleman filed for the office in January, ready to challenge incumbent state Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota. Now Gruters will seek an open state Senate seat. Coleman remains the only Democrat in the race. Republicans Melissa Howard and Tommy Gregory have filed for the seat as well and face off in an Aug. 28 primary. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 6.

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