APOPKA – Tired of the divisiveness that exists between the Democratic and Republican parties, Apopka resident Robert Rightmyer is running for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives’ District 31 as an independent.
District 31 is comprised of Apopka, the northern part of Northwest Orange County, Mount Dora, Tavares, Eustis and Northeast Lake County.
“I have been registered as ‘no party affiliation’ since approximately before the last presidential election,” Rightmyer told The Florida Record.
Prior to that, he was registered as a Republican from the time he was 18 years old.
“I became more and more disappointed and frustrated with the direction that the Republican Party was headed. As such, I decided to leave the party and proceed independently,” he said.
Rightmyer is an attorney and founder and owner of the Rightmyer Law Firm PA in Apopka and practices general civil litigation and business law.
Although Rightmyer has never sought office before, he said he felt now was the right time.
“I do not feel that the incumbent currently best represents the interest of the majority of voters in District 31 or that she can personally or fully understand the greater issues the rest of us face,” Rightmyer said.
He is running against incumbent Jennifer Sullivan.
With respect with how Rightmyer would use his legal knowledge in office, he said it has prepared him for a “panoply of circumstances and problems faced by individuals and businesses.” Additionally, he said it has “engendered the development of critical analysis and intelligent decision making without rushing to judgment or by reacting based upon emotion.”
"My personal life experiences and legal experiences have exposed me to a vast array of differing cultures, issues, concerns and differing morals and values,” he said.
He also believes he is the best choice for the office.
“I am a homeowner, working father, small business owner, married to a working mother, have two small children in the public education system and I am one who has had a breadth of life and business experience from which to draw upon in representing the interests of District 31 voters up in Tallahassee,” he said.
As the father of two young daughters, he said he will “fight to continue to uphold the current law of the land placing choice in the hands of the pregnant woman.”
“As long as I have a vote, I will never take away a person’s lawful, rightful choice,” he said, adding that the incumbent is a “staunch, far-right believer in anti-abortion given her past sponsorship of bills and comments in the press on the issue.”
Guns are another issue Rightmyer is concerned about in the race.
“I was dismayed at the current incumbent’s co-sponsorship this year of a bill that would remove a provision in the current law prohibiting concealed carry licenses from openly carrying a handgun or carrying a concealed weapon for firearm into a college or university facility,” he said.
Rightmyer called that the wrong direction, saying that as a responsible gun owner he would never support any bill that would allow for open carrying of weapons in Florida or carrying any kind of firearm into a college or university facility.
He added he does not support a gun ban on weapons that are currently available to be purchased.
“I’m a firm believer in an individual’s right to bear arms both under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I Section 8 of the Florida Constitution,” he said.
However, he said stricter regulations and checks should be put in place to try to prevent or lessen the ability of individuals to access high-capacity magazines and weapons that use such magazines.
Rightmyer said he also hopes to help increase business opportunities in District 31, especially from the expansion of the Wekiva Parkway.
“The road expansion, which will still take a number of years to complete, has already opened up greater potential for business opportunities, including tourism,” he said. He also hopes to break down barriers and burdens faced by small businesses.
Additionally, Rightmyer has plans to “enact stricter laws regarding water quality standards and testing to ensure a safe drinking water supply for the residents of District 31.” He said there needs to be greater transparency with local government water authorities and the Florida Department of Health.
“In this regard, I hope to open up a detailed look into the practice of pumping wastewater back into the Florida Aquifer,” saying the process should end.
“Florida should make every effort to protect its aquifer from pollution and it should significantly restrict the allowance of corporate interests to pump so much water out of our aquifer,” he said.
Rightmyer, who was born in Ohio, attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He went to law school at the University of Miami where he obtained his juris doctor degree, cum laude.