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Gaetz tells Senate 'elections will be held on time'

Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, the Senate redistricting chairman and incoming Senate president, exalted in his redistricting victory Friday in a letter to his Senate colleagues, sent moments after the court validated the Senate's revised maps.

"Contrary to the fears or perhaps the hopes of the cynics and the critics, Florida’s citizens will now go forward to choose from among their neighbors who will represent them in the Senate and House of Representatives,'' Gaetz wrote. "Those elections will be held on time. Absentee and overseas ballots will be sent well in advance.  Early voting will occur as scheduled."

Here's his letter:

April 27, 2012
11: 00 a.m. CT
 
 To:   Members of the Florida Senate
 
From:  Don Gaetz, Chair, Reapportionment Committee
 
RE:  SUPREME COURT DECISION ON SENATE MAPS
 
          Just a few moments ago the Florida Supreme Court approved the amended Senate redistricting plan as submitted by the Legislature.
 
          While we remain convinced that our original plan complied with both federal and state laws, we are grateful for the Court’s clear direction which guided the Legislature in making changes to eight districts, the Lakeland area and the numbering of districts.
 
          The constitutional amendments passed in 2010 required Florida to change its redistricting process in a way no other state has faced.  President Haridopolos and Speaker Cannon responded to that historic challenge with clear direction to our House and Senate committees:  follow the law and engage in the most open, inclusive, transparent redistricting process in Florida history.
 
          Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court affirms that the Senate Reapportionment Committee and the House Redistricting Committee were faithful to our mission.  The Senate’s thanks go out to Speaker-designate Will Weatherford and the House of Representatives for working with us as partners.  Never during the past year and a half was there a moment when old House-Senate rivalries that accompanied past redistricting battles interfered with bi-cameral cooperation and good faith.
 
          As Chairman of the Senate Committee, I’m grateful to every member of our reapportionment panel, Democrat and Republican.  Disagreements on substance were expected and were civil and constructive.  Minority Leader Rich and incoming Minority Leader Smith joined with Majority Leader Gardiner and Vice Chair Margolis to ensure that the suggestions, criticisms and proposals of every citizen, every group, and every senator were welcomed, listened to and considered respectfully.  More than 6,000 Floridians participated directly in meetings, hearings, communications, submitted plans and testimony that led to the result announced by the Supreme Court today.
 
          The House and Senate legal teams did their jobs very well.  The Senate professional staff, led by John Guthrie, once again served the Senate and the people of Florida with integrity and great skill.  Alex Kelly and the House redistricting staff performed to the same high standards.
 
          If past is prologue, political interests whose partisan intents weren’t achieved in the 2012 redistricting plan may carry out prolonged litigation to try to win in the courts what they could not win in the ballot box.  That is their right.
 
          Contrary to the fears or perhaps the hopes of the cynics and the critics, Florida’s citizens will now go forward to choose from among their neighbors who will represent them in the Senate and House of Representatives. Those elections will be held on time.   Absentee and overseas ballots will be sent well in advance.  Early voting will occur as scheduled.
 
 
cc:   Speaker Cannon
        Speaker-designate Weatherford

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