Transcript:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, Leader Nan Rich, Leader Chris Smith, our esteemed guests, and all fellow Democrats and fellow Senators

We come here together to celebrate a very historic tradition. And that is –  we put politics aside and we move forward as the new Senate. I accept this nomination with great humility, and great pride and gratitude to Leader Smith for entrusting me with this responsibility. I will serve all of you to the best of my abilities.

 

I’d like to thank the love of my life, Peter, for giving me the opportunity and the time away, as you know, the Smith family and your children- to serve in my childhood dream of becoming a Senator here in the State of Florida. And I want to note to my mom, who couldn’t be with us today. I want to thank my mom for having the courage to leave her country as a young war bride and come to this country and instill in each of her children the dream of America. That even a little kid out of downtown Detroit could be standing before you here today. I want to thank my children, Natasha Marcello and Taylor, for taking leave of absence from their jobs to help their mom in the campaign.

 

And I want to thank President-designate Don Gaetz for leading us forward as we embark on this new adventure of the Senate.

 

Well, politics is over and our policy is beginning. We convene here today as the new Democratic caucus; born of freshly drawn districts, new lines, new constituents  new challenges, but always, always we are the Democratic caucus. And we speak as one.

 

This great peninsula we call Florida is not made just of clay and mud and soil and sand from down south. But it’s made of families. Families who call Florida their home. Who want a place where they can educate their children in public schools and know they’re going to get the same education as those who can afford to go to private schools. They’re made up of families who want to get a decent job to provide for their children.

 

Florida is made up of families who know that there is going to be a future here after college when their children come back home and start their own families.

 

Florida is made up of retirees, especially in south Florida, who look to us to provide for them their golden years, and take care of them with the services they deserve.

 

So this we have to do:

 

We Democrats – we have a mandate in front of us to make sure that we protect the people of the State of Florida- protect the very young. So that when they’re transported to preschool we know that their vans are safe and there won’t be a baby left behind.

 

We as Democrats-  we need to make sure that we take of our children, that they go to safe and well-funded schools with teachers who are funded that is equal and equivalent to the trust that we give to our teachers.

 

We need to make sure that we take care of our teenagers, so that their safety on our highways are protected- as they should be for Florida to be one of the top three states in the country.

 

And we must take care of our universities, so they are once again centers of excellence-  and that they bring to us in the State of Florida innovation so that our children who graduate from our public universities can get good, innovating, enterprising jobs here in the state, but with a tuition that won’t stop any, any Floridian from going to our public schools.
We must take care of our homeowners, as they struggle with banking practices that has resulted in Florida as having the number one foreclosure rate in the country.

 

We must protect our property owners so that insurance rates do not price them out of the market from natural disasters and our insurance companies are able to have enough funds so that our homeowners can rebuild.

 

We must protect our seniors who choose to retire here. Cause God has blessed this land with great resources. I’ve often said our greatest resource is our people.

 

So we as Democrats, it is incumbent upon us to protect the people of the State of Florida. But let us never forget to protect our natural resources; our water supply, our deep ports- some of the finest in the country. Our beautiful beautiful beaches. And make sure, after this last storm, that we fund our coastal areas so that they’re re-nourished and replenished.

 

And to protect our Veterans from previous wars. So that when they return home they have dignity and honor but they also have job opportunities for our military men and women.

 

For the policies that we enact here in this new Democratic caucus will last not just a decade but will last throughout this century. So that when we come together, the Democrats and Republicans, into the deliberative body that we call the Senate, that we speak as one. And that will take the work of every Democrat here under this leadership that we have been blessed with in the Senate. And under the past leadership of Nan Rich and the leadership of Chris Smith.

 

I thank you all for this great responsibility. I accept it and I look forward to a wonderful year of working together. Thank you very much.