FGCU Student Runs in Florida Senate Race
This year’s election is seeing a lot of first-time candidates. One of those is Florida Gulf Coast University student Rachel Brown, the Democratic candidate in the Florida State Senate District 27 race.
WGCU’s Michelle Alvarez introduces us to the Southwest Florida native.
“My name's Rachel Brown. I'm 26 years old, and I'm the Democratic candidate for Florida Senate district 27. I was born and raised in Naples, Florida. My favorite things about Florida are the sunsets. I've been to a lot of places, Costa Rica, Kenya. I've been to Colorado. Nothing matches a Florida sunset. I also like our environment, all the native animals, the birds that pop up on your lawn all as a herd and then they hop to the next lawn. I live in San Carlos Park, that happens a lot. I really enjoy just going to nature trails with my partner, Anselm. We go to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary a lot. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a singer, an actress and a model all at the same time and have four kids by the time I was 18. Things change when you get older.
I'm currently enrolled as a student at FGCU, but I'm not taking any classes this semester because of my political endeavors. But I still have a few more classes to my engineering degree. I started the Fort Myers Sunrise Chapter a year ago and was leading climate strikes locally. I just happened to be at this networking event where I met the president of the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida. Then she contacted me, and the filing deadline was coming up, and so I thought about it and I said it needs to be done, so I'm going to do it. I was kind of surprised when they asked me to run, because I'm still in school and I wasn't expecting to get involved so heavily politically at this moment in time. I thought maybe down the road after I have experience as an engineer, then I would go into the legislative side of things.
I was excited and I was a little bit worried because I thought, "Well, maybe there's somebody else that's better." I wanted to make sure that I was the right person for it. In the same week, I had joined the board of Rights of Nature fighting for a legal right to clean air and water. I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring that legislation to the state legislature. So, I thought it was kind of perfect timing, and so that was kind of just the perfect crossroads of timing. You know? I'm qualified to represent district 27, same as any district 27 resident is. I've worked low income jobs, I've seen what happens when minimum wage doesn't keep up with housing inflation, and I've personally experienced that. I've personally experienced having to work multiple jobs just to pay rent while trying to further my education. That's something that a lot of people have to deal with. I know the struggles of the people in Lee County, and so I think that I can represent them.
Getting started on a campaign from almost nothing is quite difficult, but it was mostly about getting my website up, getting my information out there, filling out these endorsement questionnaires. Then it was just making phone calls to voters and seeing what issues matter to them and how I can represent them, tell them about my platform, and try to get them to vote for me. I've enjoyed finding real people's concerns in the district, that's been nice, connecting with people. All the connections that I've made and meeting all the people that are working so hard to make much needed changes, that's been great. That's been really, really great.
If I don't get elected, I do plan to run again. I'm just going to keep going. Do I get behind whoever's running for governor or do I continue running for Senate? I don't know. But I do know that I will be very active in local politics because that is where the grassroots is.”