Political novice Hlavka seeking Woodson’s seat

DEMOCRAT VS. LIBERTARIAN: State Rep. Marie Woodson, top, seeking third House third term, has challenger in newcomer Joshua Hlavka. PHOTOS COURTESY OF FACEBOOK HOLLYWOOD, Fla. ...

DEMOCRAT VS. LIBERTARIAN: State Rep. Marie Woodson, top, seeking third House third term, has challenger in newcomer Joshua Hlavka. PHOTOS COURTESY OF FACEBOOK

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Broward County State Rep. Marie Woodson, who was rumored to run for the seat of Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, who’s term-limited next year, has decided to file papers to seek a third House team in 2024.

Woodson, a Democrat, won’t be joining former Broward County mayor Dr. Barbara Sharief and political novice Rodney Jacobs, executive director of the City of Miami Civilian Investigative Panel police oversight committee, in their bids to replace Book in Senate District 35.

Woodson will face political newcomer Joshua Hlavka for her HD 105 seat, which covers areas including Sheridan Street to the Broward County line, University Drive and Dixie Highway, in the election set for Aug. 20, 2024.

According to his website, Hlavka is chair of the Libertarian Party of Florida.

Woodson, a Haitian immigrant, was first elected to the House in 2020 as the first Haitian-American from Broward County, and won reelection in 2022.

Woodson said her job in Tallahassee is not done and she’s seeking better results compared to her first two-terms.

“We need to get more Democrats elected,” Woodson said. “I want to work for the people who elected me. That’s my focus.”

She hasn’t ruled out running for the Senate seat in 2026.

The House and Senate this year approved Woodson’s bill which gives military veterans and their spouses an easier way to obtain their healthcare profession licenses.

One of Woodson’s bills, which was designed to extend property tax exemptions to those employed by the federal government, passed the House but died in the Senate.

Florida law provides property tax exemptions for the spouses of first responders killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty and Woodson campaigned to extend the tax break to federal government employees.

She may sponsor a similar bill during the 2024 Legislative Session, she said. “Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line for us, and it doesn’t matter whether they are local, state or federal officers, they need to have the same benefits,” she said. “Let’s be there for our law enforcement officers like they have always been there for us.”

Woodson said when she learned the homeless population in Florida, especially in her district and Miami-Dade County, included college students, she was crushed.

She is making the issue one of her top priorities in Tallahassee.

“I’m so passionate about this because here are kids who have not had a break in life … and yet they want to better themselves – they are in college and getting an education,” Woodson said. “We need to come together and make sure that we give those kids a break. They are not responsible for the issues that either mom or dad had in life.”

Hlavka, who works at a car rental service at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, said he’s running because he believes the district, which is among the most heavily Democratic in the state according to voting data, has been offered “minimal options” and wants another option.

Hlavka said his decision to run for office was motivated by his belief that the district had been offered limited political choices. His campaign is focused on reducing taxes, expanding school choice, lowering property insurance costs and ending wasteful government spending.

As an advocate for limited government, Hlavka also proposed ending the gas tax and emphasized his willingness to engage in bipartisan dialogue.

He said his candidacy marks a unique opportunity for the Libertarian Party in Florida, as he would have been the only member of the party in the state legislature if elected.

“Republicans don’t want to associate with Democrats, they see them as the enemy,” Hlavka said. “I want to give the people of 105 an option for somebody who can actually cross the aisle and have these conversations with Republicans because they are not going to listen to a Democrat.”