David Richardson Elected as First Openly Gay Florida Rep
Democrat David Richardson became the first openly gay candidate elected to the Florida state legislature after winning a three-way Democratic primary election earlier last week, with no Republican opponent. He will represent the Miami-area District 113 in the Florida House of Representatives.
"We have one of the most economically powerful districts in all of the state, including the tourist areas of Miami Beach, the Port of Miami, the American Airlines Arena and the Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins," said Richardson of the area he will serve. "I intend to use my accounting and auditing background to dig into the details of the state budget to identify areas where funds can be better allocated."
Once in the State Senate in Tallahassee, Richardson wants to identify waste in the State budget so funds can be better used to improve schools, preserve the environment and improve health care.
"Many of you know I’ve enjoyed success as a businessman and Certified Public Accountant. I’ve truly lived the American dream. I want to use my skills to make sure others have the same opportunity to live their dream," Richardson told EDGE.
It is because of Richardson’s unprejudiced views that he has gained support from several LGBT organizations such as Equality Florida, Victory Fund and Florida Together Federation, who endorsed his campaign.
"David’s business experience makes him uniquely qualified to serve," said Florida Together Federation Executive Director Michael Kenny. "His willingness and ability to create coalitions will enable him to be a powerful force that brings people together to craft solutions that benefit all Floridians. Most importantly, David will be a credible, well-respected voice for Florida’s LGBT citizens. David’s victory will ensure that Florida’s LGBT community will, for the first time ever, have a seat at the table -- an essential first step on the path to equality for all Floridians."
Florida Together Federation’s mission is to connect and empower local Florida organizations to share resources, skills and information in order to forge statewide strength in the pursuit of equality and justice for LGBT Floridians. Florida Together Federation intends to work hand-in-hand with state and national organizations that share similar goals.
At least two other openly gay candidates also have a shot at winning their own districts and joining Richardson in Tallahassee: Joe Saunders won the Democratic primary in Orlando’s District 49, and Ian Whitley was unopposed in the Democratic primary for South Florida’s District 120. Both will face off against Republican opponents in November. But although he is openly gay, Richardson doesn’t want to be labeled by his sexuality.
"I did not run as a gay candidate, and I won’t be the gay legislator," said Richardson. "I will be an advocate for every citizen of my district, including the LGBT community. The best way to make progress on LGBT civil rights issues is to continue talking about the issues. The conversation is much more powerful when you can talk directly to fellow lawmakers rather than use surrogates to speak for you. We will now have someone sitting at the same table, in the same room, an equal in the legislative process."
Richardson has a unique Florida background. His family moved to Florida when he was 10 years old. After completing high school, he attended the University of Central Florida, receiving two degrees: Biology and Accountancy. His first job after graduation was working as an auditor for the U.S. Department of Defense, charged with identifying fraud and waste in government contracts.
During his time as a Pentagon auditor, he studied nights and weekends to earn a Masters in Business Administration degree from the University of Tampa. In 1985, he completed all the requirements and was awarded a Certified Public Accountant certificate and license from the State of Florida, which he has maintained for the past 27 years.
After his tenure with the Department of Defense, Richardson worked for Ernst & Young, one of the largest and most respected audit and consulting firms in the world where he continued to develop his expertise in the area of government accounting and finance. In 1993, Richardson pursued his dream of starting a small business; an advisory services firm focusing on accounting and finance issues relating to government contracts.
"I have been in the Miami area since 1995," said Richardson, who grew up in the Orlando area, then moved to Tampa Bay for his first job as a U.S. Government auditor. "I have spent the majority of my life in Florida and this has allowed me to experience first-hand a number of issues that are important to all Floridians. I have friends that live all over the state, so this allows me to be in touch with so many different communities in Florida."
Richardson is emotional when speaking about the support he received from voters.
"It is a humbling experience to recognize how widespread our support was from many diverse voting groups in the district, including the LGBT community," he said. "We saw a huge voter turn out from the LGBT community and I recognize and appreciate their role in getting me elected."