SWFL’s Republican stronghold includes State House District 78

Republican incumbent Jenna Persons-Mulicka easily won a second term in the State House District 78 seat against Democratic challenger Howard Sapp.

Persons-Mulicka received 58.4% of the vote, with 21,416 ballots cast in its favour. Sapp garnered 41.5% of the vote with 15,209 ballots, as of 9 p.m.

Persons-Mulicka, 39, a Fort Myers lawyer by profession, was first elected to Florida House in 2020. She serves on the Health and Human Services, Finance, Joint Legislative Audit Committees , among others.

Persons-Mulicka, who spent election night with other Republicans at the Ranch in Fort Myers, said she felt confident before all of the final results were in.

Early in the election cycle, she went door-to-door and community events, but suspended her campaign after Hurricane Ian devastated Southwest Florida.

She focused on helping people who lost their homes and businesses and was thrilled to see how other elected officials did the same.

“Sometimes politics can be divisive (but) we’ve seen how community rebuilding needs transcend politics,” she said.

His top priority for a second term is to recover from Ian and get as much support as possible to get residents and businesses back on their feet.

“We are a strong community and I am proud to be part of the Southwest Florida family and we will rebuild together,” she said.

State officials earn a base salary of $29,697. They will be sworn into their offices in two weeks.

House District 78 includes the city of Fort Myers and parts of rural southeast Lee County with approximately 154,000 residents.

Sapp, 58, was running for public office for the first time, although he said public office was family-friendly.

Sapp was watching the results with supporters at the VFW on Jackson Street in Fort Myers. He said he was proud of his performance.

“I feel pretty good,” he said. “That we’re doing as well as we did, I think that says a lot. We’ll definitely be back. I’ll try again in two years.”

Her aunt was the late Veronica Shoemaker, a longtime civic leader in Fort Myers who died in 2016. She was the first black woman elected to city council.

Persons-Mulicka raised $184,961 during the campaign, far ahead of Sapp who raised $3,890, according to campaign finance reports.

From the start, Persons-Mulicka said her campaign was about empowering the public to make key leadership choices.

“I was proud to lead a grassroots effort to give Lee County voters a stronger voice in running our local schools,” she told the Fort Myers News-Press in an email.

Howard Sapp

She championed Bill 497 which paved the way for an electoral referendum on the general election ballot for Lee County voters to decide whether they want an elected superintendent of schools or to keep a board-appointed superintendent. .

“I have great respect for the will of voters and I am proud to give Lee County voters a voice in the management of our local schools,” she said.

Sapp grew up in Fort Myers and spent 30 years as an air traffic controller for the Federal Aviation Administration before returning to his hometown in 2020. He is retired from the FAA.

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