Joy Goff-Marcil speaks about her experiences, reasons for running and opinions on priority issues in an exclusive FPR interview

Florida Senate District 10 Candidate Q&A: Joy Goff-Marcil

On Nov. 8, Floridians will inevitably focus on the results of the governor’s race between Democrat Charlie Crist and the Republican incumbent, Gov. Ron DeSantis. However, it’s the Florida state Senate races that will carry the future of legislation in the state. 

Currently, Florida Senate Republicans are only two seats away from commanding a “supermajority”: a two-thirds majority that would allow Republican senators to override any veto coming from the governor. So, even if Democratic candidate Charlie Christ is elected governor, he would be largely ineffective in passing legislation if this supermajority is achieved.

The potential impact of this supermajority is part of what makes the race for the Florida Senate District 10 seat — between incumbent Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur and Democratic Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil — so crucial. Important issues such as the future of Florida’s role in climate change, the right to abortion and the pressing need for gun safety are all on the table in this election.

Voters must choose a candidate who has shown consistent prioritization of the well being of the people throughout their time in public office. Goff-Marcil is the only candidate who fits this criteria.

Joy Goff-Marcil previously served six years as a Maitland City Council member and has represented central Florida’s state House District 30 since 2018. Goff-Marcil answered questions about her previous government experiences, reasons for running and opinions on priority issues in an exclusive interview with the Florida Political Review.

Q: You’ve served as a member of the Maitland City Council and the Florida House of Representatives. How will this experience help you serve as a member of the Florida Senate?

A: I think it will help me tremendously because at the city level, I was able to see how the state government keeps trying to take local control away and try to put everybody across the state into a one-size-fits-all situation as far as policy goes. That’s completely not the way to do it because local government is the people, is closest to the people, and that’s how we should be deciding what goes on in our community. Now, if the state was to propose something that would be more environmentally friendly than what local governments were doing, I would be supportive of that. But that’s not what’s happening. Local governments are trying to do more proactive policy to protect your environment, and then the state is saying, “Oh, you can’t do that.” So that’s one aspect from serving in the city. And then the last four years I’ve been serving in the Florida House, and now I just want to continue what I’ve been doing up there in Tallahassee: defending the environment, fighting the anti-environment bills that go in front of us, and then also representing what the majority of the people in Florida want to happen in the state. Right now we are being represented by the minority of interests in the state.

Critics of Goff-Marcil point to her inability to pass legislation during her time in the House as evidence of her ineffectiveness. However, Republican dominance over the Florida government has been apparent ever since the party achieved a Republican “trifecta” in 1999 by gaining a majority in both chambers of the state’s legislature and the governor’s office. 

Additionally, the Republicans wield a government “triplex,” meaning they hold the governor, attorney general and secretary of state positions. This has effectively prevented Democrats from passing progressive legislation in Florida for 23 years. Goff-Marcil’s failure to pass bills through the House should be viewed as evidence of a frustrating historic trend for Florida Democrats rather than an indication of personal failure on her part to lead effectively. During her interview, Goff-Marcil reflected on her time in the House and voiced hopefulness for stronger efficacy in the Senate.

Q: Democrats have had little success in passing legislation since the Republicans took over in the ’90s. You’ve personally sponsored over 20 bills during your time as a representative, which were killed by a Republican House. How would you try to change this if you were elected to the Senate in order to be more effective despite belonging to a political minority?

A: Well, I’ve heard that the Senate — and I’ve seen it myself — that they work better together. It’s partly because they’re such a smaller body. There are only 40 of them as opposed to 120 in the House. So they represent a larger group of people. And they have to be more willing to work with both sides of the aisle and the House. So I think I’m going to feel more at home in the Senate in that way. In Tallahassee, there are pretty much three people that run the state and that’s the governor, the speaker of the House, and the Senate president. And then they decide what our policies are going to be and then they send their marching orders to their soldiers, which are the Republicans. So all of the legislation that they want the Republicans to pass does pass because the Republicans just fall in line. And the Democrats sometimes get scraps here and there that they get to pass but it’s rare. And that’s just the way it is as long as we have such an imbalance up there. It’s gonna be like that. And that’s why my seat is so important, because we are two seats away in the Senate from giving theRepublicans a supermajority. And what that means is if we elect a Democrat governor, he will lose his veto power. Basically, any veto he does can be overridden by a supermajority. So that’s why this is extremely important to pick up the seat and hold on to all of our Democrat seats. So we can be powerful as a minority is the takeaway from this.

Goff-Marcil’s Republican opponent is incumbent state Sen. Jason Brodeur, whose legitimacy as an electee has recently been called into question. Just last month, Brodeur was involved in a scandal regarding a “ghost” candidate — a candidate who does not campaign or intend to take office, but is created by political groups who intend to take votes away from legitimate candidates — which may have helped him win his election to the Senate in 2020. On Sept. 1, 2022, Brodeur’s former GOP employee Ben Paris was convicted of creating a ghost candidate named Jestine Iannoti to help Brodeur win his Senate race. 

During Paris’s trial, former Seminole county tax collector Joel Greenburg testified under oath that Brodeur himself was involved in planting the phony independent candidate to hurt the Democrats’ chance of victory.

Although Brodeur’s involvement has yet to be proven, the scandal has caused enough of an uproar in the central Florida community for many to call for Brodeur’s resignation from the Senate and from the upcoming election. Brodeur has declined many interviews and debate opportunities since these events, but has been funneling considerable money into online campaign advertising.

Q: How do you plan to beat your opponent Senator Jason Broder, who is the incumbent and has a sizable base of Republican support?

A: Yes, and he also has a lot of money. He has already spent $1.7 million on his ads and I’m sure your parents are seeing them if they’re watching any TV because it’s there constantly. The way I plan on beating my opponent is the way I’ve done it in the past. I’ve had four contested election elections so far. And I just try to be my authentic self and represent my values because I think the majority of people share my same values, and try to get that out there. It’s definitely a little tougher with this race because it’s so many more people and it costs so much more money to get the message out. I also have the advantage of my opponent being involved in a lot of shady situations. He hasn’t been proven in these situations, but the Orlando Sentinel has been covering it and all the news outlets and because of it he is just refusing to debate me, refusing to show up. And I think the voters deserve to hear both sides and hear both candidates.

On the subject of specific hot-button issues, it’s unsurprising that Goff-Marcil has shown considerably greater moral judgment than Brodeur. Whereas Brodeur voted “yes” on the 15-week abortion ban bill and tweeted an “Amen” upon the overturn of Roe v Wade, Goff-Marcil has made a point of promoting a woman’s right to choose. Whereas Brodeur voted “yes” on a bill restricting the future of solar energy, House Bill 741, and another undermining soil and water conservation, Senate Bill 1078, Goff-Marcil was involved in implementing the Blue-Green Algae Task Force committee, which aims to guide restoration and water quality efforts to benefit the Florida people and environment. Goff-Marcil discussed her positions on these and more topics with the Florida Political Review.

Q: Recently at Winter Park High School, the school which you attended, there was a gun scare that caused the campus to undergo a lockdown. These scares are increasingly common in a society that’s plagued with gun violence. How do you plan to pass legislation that would reduce the threat of gun violence in Florida?

A: That’s a very good question. The same week that that happened, there was another incident in Leon County in Tallahassee where my niece and nephew went to school. I find this unacceptable. The Republicans are saying that this is a mental health issue. I agree that we need to support mental health and provide more resources for people to get treatment for mental health — I totally agree with that. But the problem is not just mental health. There’s too many guns out there and there’s too many people able to get access to those guns. We could put very sensible safety policies in place to prevent many of these tragedies and thankfully, the one at Winter Park and the one at Leon were prevented, but it could have been another tragic day in Winter Park and in Tallahassee with what could have happened. I think they were doing a backpack check and found the guns in these cases. But there can be so many other things out there just to prevent guns getting in the wrong hands, and I personally have sponsored a bill that would just require gun store owners to lock their guns up at night. And the Republicans won’t even let me put that bill in committee. They don’t want anything to do with guns going through the bill process.

Q: Floridians have also experienced the impact of climate change firsthand with the destruction caused by Hurricane Ian. As a senator, how would you work to combat climate change and help our communities?

A: Well, first of all my heart goes out to all those people that have suffered with this hurricane. It’s tragic. When you go to Tallahassee, there’s just so many issues that it’s important to try to settle on one or two or three of the issues that you become more familiar with, and I decided to make the environment a big issue for me. Because a lot of times my colleagues are too busy fighting off culture war bills, and it’s a distraction from what we really need. Those are also important, but we need to be concentrating on our environments. One of my bills was the implementation of the governor’s Blue Green Algae Task Force recommendations. There was a task force that he actually put in place. They came up with really good recommendations on how to solve some of our environmental problems. But once they sent out the recommendations, he did not implement them. So that’s one thing I’m going to plan on doing. One of my bills that I really want to sponsor again is that bill, I think that will help. We also have to look at how we’re developing on the coast and what that means in the future because we can’t just keep redeveloping every time we have a hurricane if the hurricanes keep coming as much as they are and in the force that they are coming.

Q: The overturning of Roe v. Wade is a very contentious topic in Florida, which has shown to be one of the most pro-choice states in the South. So as a Planned Parenthood-endorsed candidate, how do you plan to fight for abortion rights as a senator and are you hopeful about the preservation of reproductive rights for Floridians?

A: Well, I’m hoping that this is going to wake people up, especially people that say, “Oh, I’m not into politics,” or “I just don’t like politics.” They don’t realize that though they might not like it, politics is in their everyday life. This is an example of the government trying to get into our private lives and make our private health care decisions. It’s wrong. And I will continue to fight for our reproductive rights and our right to our health care. This should be something that is a choice that is made with your family and your faith and your healthcare provider, not the state legislators. And there was recently a bill that went through the legislature which you’ve probably heard of: the 15-week ban. And the reason why this was such a bad bill — because really 15 weeks seems reasonable, that you should be able to figure out if you want to go through a pregnancy before 15 weeks — that part of it sounds reasonable, but that’s not what’s happening. They’re trying to ban it altogether. And they’re doing it with these little baby steps. And the reason why this 15-week thing is such a big deal is because there are a lot of pregnancies that fail at about that time, and the fetus is not viable. So it is making it really difficult for healthcare providers to figure out what to do. They don’t want to look like they’re trying to end a pregnancy, but at the same time, we’re talking about a nonviable fetus, and it puts the mother through extreme stress. They have to pack up and go to another state to take care of this health care problem. It’s not deciding whether to end a pregnancy — this is a nonviable pregnancy. So there are some really basic health care issues that have come out of this 15 week ban.

With lifelong personal connections to central Florida, a passion for protecting its citizens through sensible legislation, and a commitment to the legitimacy of the election system, Joy Goff-Marcil is the clear standout in the Florida State Senate District 10 race. With endorsements from organizations such as Florida Planned Parenthood and Florida Conservation Voters, as well as individuals like Democratic gubernatorial candidates Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried, Goff-Marcil’s qualifications become even more evident. Electing Goff-Marcil is a step toward bettering the lives of all Florida residents.

Although Crist and DeSantis may be garnering the majority of media attention throughout this election cycle, it’s imperative that all voters make informed decisions about the candidates in each race that will appear on their ballot Nov. 8. Early voting options are available in Florida polling locations in order to contribute to the accessibility of voting to all citizens. This election will be one that decides the imminent future of all Floridians, but especially of marginalized groups. Voters must elect politicians who will offer help, not harm, to the planet and people that are looking to them for support now more than ever.

Check out other recent articles from the Florida Political Review here.

Featured image: Florida Political Review candidate Q&A graphic depicting Florida Rep. and candidate for Senate, Joy Goff-Marcil. Image by Maria Varas.