Tiffany Parisi, a Democrat perhaps better known in Jacksonville than on the Treasure Coast, filed papers Feb. 26 to run for the House District 83 seat Gayle Harrell is vacating, and in the process challenges a Republican businessman who has been in the race for the past year.
Parisi is something of a mystery to many in the District.
She and GOP opponent Toby Overdorf, a Palm City business owner, are the only two declared candidates in the district that represents Martin County and most of eastern St. Lucie County.
In papers filed with the Florida Division of Elections Parisi listed a Jensen Beach box number as her address, yet just weeks earlier was a candidate for the Duval County Soil and Water District. On her Facebook page she calls herself "a Jensen Beach native" who has "spent every summer snorkeling at Bathtub Beach, hiking in the Savannas, and fishing in the Indian River Lagoon" -- yet admits she was born in Broward County, in Hollywood, and lived there until she was 6, when the family moved to Jensen Beach.
Her treasurer is Jacalyn Crecelius, 835 Wren Road, Jacksonville 32216, but her campaign account is at a Wells Fargo Bank in Jensen Beach.
Contradictions aside, Parisi, who is celebrating her 29th birthday today, insists she is no carpetbagger.
"This is what happens when you're in a military family," she told Sunshine State News on Monday. "You move a lot and home is where you're based, even temporarily."
She said her husband, a Michigan native, is stationed at NAS Jacksonville, but the both of them are anxious to be in South Florida permanently.
"My mother still lives in the same house in Jensen Beach where I grew up and lived until I finished Indian River Community College," she said. "It's the most permanent home I've ever known."
After community college Parisi went on to university in Washington, D.C.
Beneath an online article she wrote in November 2016, she is described as a "Latina anthropologist and public health professional residing in Jacksonville, FL. Her research centers on issues of racism, genocide, violence, and community reconciliation. She currently teaches as an adjunct professor."
Perhaps voters can know her better through that personal viewpoint she penned on the Mary Sue blog site, "I'm a White-Passing Latina and This Is Why I wear the #SafetyPin."
Asked what compels her to run for a Florida House seat, she said, "Florida needs public servants first and foremost. I'm ready to step up to the plate and represent my hometown."
Parisi's camp has not filed a campaign finance report yet.
Overdorf, who founded Crossroads Environmental Consultants in 2002 and served as its president until 2016, filed his papers for the HD 83 race on March 30, 2017 and has $61,428.74 in his account to date. Currently, he is the Environmental Division president of EDC, Inc., a full-service local land development firm that he has expanded from seven to 28 employees.
He has been active in the community, including service as president of the Palm City Chamber of Commerce; on the Board of Directors of Leadership Florida (in fact, was a classmate of Florida Chamber CEO Mark Wilson); as a Torrey Pines Molecular Institute trustee; and on the St. Lucie County Economic Development Council.
Asked how he sees his chances against Parisi in a mid-term presidential year many believe will attract a larger-than-usual Democratic turnout, Overdorf said this:
“Over the last 23 years as a resident of the Treasure Coast, my relationships, experience, and accomplishments have transcended party lines for the good of the region.
"I've worked with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to create unique relationships of respect while getting the work done. I believe these long-term relationships have allowed me to work across party lines and prepared me to work for the entire Treasure Coast, regardless of political party orientation.
"Based on this," he said, "I believe my chances for election are excellent.”
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith
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