Opinion: Fight for our democracy — vote for Andrew Gillum

We need a governor who stands for the marginalized and working class, not for the privileged and wealthy.


Andrew Gillum plans to enact gun control if he wins the election, and is also in favor of cheaper college education. Photo courtesy of Andrew Gillum’s Facebook

Israel Fontoura, Contributing Writer

This piece is one of two opinion articles concerning the Nov. 6 election, with the other advocating for governor candidate and Republican Ron DeSantis. You can read it here

Andrew Gillum gives voters something to vote for, not against.


Gillum is a candidate I resonate with because he’s not another stuffy politician. He stands for everyday issues that matter to working class Floridians by supporting the implementation of a higher minimum wage, enforcing common sense gun control, protecting DACA, and increasing corporate taxes to move Florida into a brighter future.


He is the saving grace from 20 years of conservative governorships in Florida.


The momentum of radical conservative rhetoric carried by unfit politicians has violently endangered the livelihoods of Americans, specifically Floridians.


And now, voters are faced with two candidates who couldn’t be further apart on the political spectrum.


Former Congressman Ron Desantis, Gillum’s opponent, is a drain-the-swamp, build the wall, Trump disciple. If elected, his role in Florida will be a MAGA hat-wearing puppet.


Gillum on the other hand represents an exciting future for liberals everywhere, and most importantly, he represents millions of Americans like myself who are outraged at the toxic political landscape created by the Trump administration — and, if given the chance, DeSantis.


So just where does Andrew Gillum stand on issues that affect college students and why should you vote for him?


Make college tuition cheap again


College tuition has steeply risen in the past few years and students are drowning in debt without a life preserver in reach.


For most, financial aid isn’t enough and they’re forced to borrow tremendous amounts of loans. At FAU, approximately 52 percent of students graduate with debt.


These horrifying loans come back to haunt students in the dead of night like an Elm Street villain. And in your early 20s, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the idea of having to cover for thousands of dollars of debt while you’re still searching for a job post graduation.


As governor, Gillum intends to fight for debt-free education.


To provide a helping hand to students, he wants to increase minimum wage to $15 to combat exorbitant loans and cost of living.


He’s stated that if you teach for four years in Florida following graduation, the state will cover the cost of your student loan debt. This could apply to nursing as well.


Gillum also supports a free college tuition program. He’s proposing a training system for high school graduates that provides them with a college education without the devastating debt that comes along with it.


Invest in future generations


Gillum wants to raise the corporate tax rate to 7.5 percent in order to finance a $1 billion investment in public education. He believes large corporations should pay their fair share — especially after the 2017 GOP Tax Bill cut national corporate tax rates.


The need to raise corporate taxes is in response to meager teacher salaries and the mishandling of public education funds. We need a governor who is not going to give significant tax breaks to corporations, but rather invest in future generations.


Investing in public education will create a multifaceted and skilled workforce, which in turn will incentivize corporations to relocate to Florida.


Gillum also wants to legalize recreational marijuana so that the state can tax it, and then use its revenue to fund public education and boost the economy.


Gun control now


Assault-style weapons have turned public spaces into war zones.

Nowhere is safe anymore: movie theaters, concerts, restaurants, sports events, and even our schools have become at risk.

Ever since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, I make sure to be strategic with where I sit in a classroom. On the first day of classes, I factor in the possibility of a shooting over whether or not I can hear the professor or see the board.

It shouldn’t be this way. Students shouldn’t have to fear going to class.

We need to put an end to senseless violence and make it more difficult for the wrong people to get their hands on these weapons of war.

Just as citizens have to take driving tests and update their licenses, we have the capacity to implement stricter regulations for gun owners. We are living under a government that caters more to gun ownership than to the safety of our people.

Andrew Gillum is focused on tighter gun control legislation. He supports a ban on assault-style weapons, a requirement of universal background checks, and the prohibition of “gun possession for those with felony and misdemeanor domestic violence and stalking convictions,” according to his website.

He’s stated, “Anyone who wants to fire a weapon that can fire 60 bullets in 60 seconds should join the military.”

Nearly a week after the Parkland shooting in February, Gillum led thousands of protestors at Florida State University in a demand for increased gun control.

We need a governor who understands that our lives are more important than the insecurities of the vocal conservative right.

With Gillum in office, we can put an end to senseless gun violence and create laws that protect Floridians.

Fight for DACA


Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allows U.S. residents, who typically arrived to the country as illegal minors, to live and work in the country legally. Gillum wants to protect these residents. Meanwhile, Trump keeps flip flopping his position on the fate of these immigrants.


Approximately 760,000, or 6 percent, of Florida’s population is undocumented as of 2014, according to the Department of Homeland Security.


In retaliation to the blatant xenophobia shown by Trump, Gillum has pledged to support DACA and he has also called for the abolishment of ICE.


Through ICE’s vicious pursuit of undocumented immigrants who don’t pose a threat to this country, the Trump Administration has sent a demoralizing message: that undocumented immigrants’ lives and contributions to society aren’t valid.


Although only the federal government has the power to change immigration laws, Gillum is willing to fight for DACA recipients to have opportunities to pursue higher education, careers, and a stable living environment.


One of the most inspiring things about Gillum is his dedication to hitting the pavement and creating change through unyielding activism. When the Trump Administration separated immigrant children from their families, Gillum canceled campaign events to march with protesters against a child detention facility.


We need a governor who isn’t afraid of speaking out against those who oppress people in need and one who is willing to champion the causes of the disadvantaged.  


What’s next for Florida?


This November, we have the opportunity to transform the political landscape of Florida and elect the strongest candidate who will propel Florida forward.


Most importantly, we can send a rippling message across America —  that we will no longer accept conservative legislation that benefits the wealthy, demeans immigrants, and allows weapons of war onto our streets.

This year, we have seen how the Trump administration has conducted itself through its lies, deceit, and attacks on the press. We cannot allow a Trump-backed candidate to uphold the highest office in the state.


Florida needs a governor that will unite us, not divide us through misogyny, racism, and bigotry.


The job of the governor is to act in the best interest of the people, Desantis will only protect the interests of a select few.


DeSantis opposes common sense gun control, supports redirecting funds from public education to private schools and charters, and stands by the Trump Administration’s crackdown on immigration.


In contrast, Gillum strongly opposes the NRA, assault-style weapons, and the gun violence that stems from the lenient regulations that are pushed forward by conservatives. He wants to invest in public education to create a strong and talented workforce. Gillum is also against tearing families apart at the border and will work tirelessly to protect hard working, undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation in our state.


Earlier in August, Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed Andrew Gillum for Florida governor. Sanders said that a Gillum victory “would be an extraordinary step for Florida and for America,” and I couldn’t agree more.  


Gillum will be a governor who will fight for the people, fight for democracy, and fight for the American dream. He is the leader we need to create a safer and more prosperous future for Florida, and he has my vote.


Israel Fontoura is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].