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Margolis celebrates 40 years of public service

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It's hard to believe, but 40 years have passed since state Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami Beach, first became a state lawmaker.

Margolis, 79, hasn't held state office the entire time. She spent eight years on the Miami-Dade Commission, and made unsuccessful bids to become a member of Congress and Miami-Dade property appraiser.

She made history when she became the first woman to hold the Florida Senate presidency in 1990.

Senate President Don Gaetz celebrated the occasion Wednesday by presenting Margolis with 40 roses during the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee meeting.

Said Gaetz: "This is the beginning of the next 40 years."

We caught up with Margolis in between meetings Wednesday to get her take.

Herald/Times: What inspired you to get involved in politics?

Margolis: The Equal Rights Amendment. The gentleman who was the incumbent [in the Florida House of Representatives] at the time voted against the Equal Rights Amendment and I was just horrified that anybody could do that. So I decided to run against him.

Herald/Times: What was it like to be the first female Senate President?

Margolis: It was amazing. The galleries were packed with every woman who worked here in the Senate. It was incredible. When they swore me in, they were crying… The women, one after another, were getting up and nominating me, saying, ‘Good ol’ boys, step aside.’ It was really strange. It was really something.

Herald/Times: Of what accomplishment are you most proud?

Margolis: I did the constitutional amendment that brought government into the sunshine in 1992.

Herald/Times: You’ve left Tallahassee a few times to pursue other offices. What is it about Tallahassee that keeps drawing you back?

Margolis: I was chairman of the [Miami-Dade] County Commission for six years. It was awful. There was strong mayor at the time, Alex Penelas, and so the chairman just presided, kept order. I could set the calendar and things like that. It was a good experience, but I never want to go back… [Tallahassee] is a good place. I know the staffs of most of the committees very well. It’s an easy place for me to do well.

Herald/Times: Any plans to retire?

Margolis: I have three more years... I’ll think about it then. I have a [retirement] account open, but I don’t know if I really want to pursue it. 

Comments

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ed jenkins

What a miserable lady and a stain on our state. All citizens would have been better if she had simply stuck to keeping up her home and maintaining a family rather than neglecting them to partake in political activities.

Sandy Oestreich

Ed Jenkins: what a miserable face you've put on yourself!
What did the Honorable Sen.Margolis ever do to you. Are you just mad that ERA will pass soon? Don't you know that males experience Sex Discrimination too--and that we fight for your gender-equal treatment, too?! Shame on YOU.

NOW, to the Honorable Senator: CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR STRONG "STAYING POWER" in what one male Republican legislator told me was a "stinking cess-pool"!

BEST is that you have also stuck with The Equal Rights Amendment because you KNOW we women, girls need it more than ever what with women: being passed over at work; being demonized by The Other Side; being stalked, grabbed, raped and left to die in increasing numbers in the military, on college campuses, in homes and on the street! Our young millennials now live in The Rape Culture.

Equal Rights Amendment makes such savage, now-common sex discrimination (and MORE) a VIOLATION OF THE US CONSTITUTION in many cases. IMAGINE THAT! IMAGINE GETTING FL LEGISLATURE TO DO ANYTHING WHOLESOME AND PROTECTIVE FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS! We cannot...until..

Current FL legislators should get their noses out of their bank accounts, "Get a backbone, and PASS ERA" as one supporter shouted.

We will not forget their horrific, unseemly votes/behavior. Been working the ERA for Free, 18/7, for past consecutive FOURTEEN YEARS with 300 000 members, 326 major organizations and often 67 speeches--one in each county-- We will Stay for ERA until they ratify ERA along with 2 other states.

SEX DISCRIMINATION HAS to GO! "All nations created since WWII already have adopted ERA language."(per one SCOTUS Justice). SOME saw their GDP JUMP by NINE Per Cent!

How stupid can Florida BE?! We'll find out in a coupla' months if and when they do get to vote on it, both houses. There is planned a BARRAGE of press releases by us men and women and celebrities. Question is: How long will America stay a Banana Republic?

MUCH GOOD LUCK TO YOU, HON. SEN. MARGOLIS, WHO HAS CHAMPIONED AND SPONSORED THE ERA BILLS CONSISTENTLY.

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