Triggered by Senate President Joe Negron's impending resignation Wednesday, state Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Port St. Lucie, announced hours later she will file the paperwork to run for the vacant Senate District 25 seat.
Harrell, an advocate for the communities of the Treasure Coast for the last 46 years, said she's ready to step up to the plate. “I’ve dusted off my red running shoes and will not be outworked when it comes to advocating for our community, our values and our unique quality of life.
“The Treasure Coast is a special place that has a history of sending leaders to the Florida Senate. I will continue that tradition and advocate for the things that matter most to our community, including promoting our values, defending our precious waterways and increasing the opportunities for our children and grandchildren,” Harrell concluded.
Harrell is known for her fiscal conservatism, her studious approach to the bills before her and her relentless drive to create a higher standard of healthcare and public education in Florida.
Negron, R-Palm City, said he backs Harrell to succeed him. "Rep. Gayle Harrell has worked tirelessly for the citizens of the Treasure Coast," he said. "She understands and appreciates the issues important to our community, particularly protecting our environment and championing K-12 and higher education. I support her campaign to be the next State Senator from District 25."
SD 25 is a Republican-leaning district that voted for Rick Scott in 2010, Mitt Romney in 2012, and Donald Trump in 2016. Harrell’s current district makes up the largest portion of the Senate district compared to any other state House district therein.
Harrell has proven her ability to garner votes in St. Lucie County, which is critical to success on Election Day. She proved this in multiple elections, most notably when she defeated a Democratic incumbent to take her current House seat back for the Republican Party.
Harrell was born in Nashville, Tenn. and moved to Florida as a child. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a Master’s in Latin American history from the University of Florida, where she received the Edith Bristol Tigert Award as an Outstanding Female Graduate and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation, she taught Spanish and Latin American history.
Gayle Harrell has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare. She worked as a healthcare administrator, managing the OBGYN practice of her husband, Dr. James E. Harrell, and was the founder of the Breast Imaging Center, a mammography center specializing in preventive care for women. She currently is the CEO of Health IT Strategies and works as health IT consultant.
Harrell has served her community as president of many civic organizations such as Hibiscus Children’s Center, the Barn Theatre, and the HPS – Helping People Succeed. She currently serves on the board of the Martin County Education Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee Counties.
Gayle and James Harrell have been married for 53 years, have four children and eight grandchildren. She is an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Stuart.