VoteWater endorses Crist, Demings, Mast, 14 others in Florida primary

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, Democratic Senate hopeful Val Demings, Republican Congressman Brian Mast and 15 other candidates at the federal, state and local level earned the endorsement of the environmental advocacy group VoteWater this week.

“If we had more candidates like these, Florida might have cleaner water,” said Executive Director Gil Smart of the Stuart-based group, formerly known as

The endorsements were issued in tandem with VoteWater’s 2022 Florida Primary voter guides, designed to help voters in 15 Florida counties identify the best clean-water candidates in the Aug. 23 primary election. The guides will be available on the group’s website,

VoteWater is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to fighting political corruption in Florida by galvanizing public resolve to end the systemic pollution and mismanagement of our waterways.

Charlie Crist

“I’m thrilled and humbled to earn the endorsement of VoteWater as we fight to protect Florida’s water and keep it clean for generations to come,” said Charlie Crist. “Access to clean water is a fundamental right and critical to Florida’s environment and our economy. As your next governor, I will fight to keep Florida’s water clean, our environment protected, and our economy strong. Unlike our current governor, I’m not afraid to stand up to the big special interests in Tallahassee.”

During her time in the U.S. House of Representatives, Demings has consistently voted to protect the environment and combat the effects of climate change. In June, after the U.S. Supreme Court weakened federal environmental oversight, she stated “We cannot continue to allow our air and water to be polluted by big corporations putting their profits before the health of Florida families.”

Other VoteWater endorsements include:

Brian Mast
  • U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, a Republican running for re-election in District 18. 

“The most important issue for the Treasure Coast and Northern Palm Beach County is water quality because it impacts public health, our environment, our economy and more,” said Mast. “In Congress, I’ve passed dozens of clean-water provisions into law, and I won’t stop fighting until we reach the ultimate goal: zero toxic discharges ever again.”

Ken Russell
  • Ken Russell, a Miami City District 2 Commissioner now seeking the Democratic nomination in Congressional District 27.

“As a City Commissioner, my main focus has been cleaning up the water in Miami. I’m going to Congress to enforce the Clean Water Act which has been ignored by our state and federal legislators. The influence of Big Sugar has compromised Florida’s water quality and that puts our ecology and economy at risk.”

  • In the Florida Senate, VoteWater endorsed incumbent Sen. Shevrin Jones, who is again seeking the Democratic nod in District 34.

In the Florida House, endorsed candidates are:

Saima Farooqui
  • Saima Farooqui, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in District 97. 

“The importance of water, as it is a building block of life, should not be ignored,” said Farooqui. “Floridians need and should expect clean water for themselves and the beautiful ecosystems that facilitate our existence. That is why I will fight for environmental measures, including clean and safe water.”

Elijah Manley
  • Elijah Manley, candidate for the Democratic nomination in District 99.

“Access to clean water is a right to all Floridians, and it will be my duty as a legislator to ensure it,” said Manley. “I will work across the aisle to protect our waterways, our Everglades, and our clean drinking water supply by looking to proven solutions that we know work.”

  • Clay Miller, Democrat in District 101.
Andres Althabe
  • Andres Althabe, seeking the Democratic nod in District 113. 

“As someone seeking to represent a coastal district, and someone who considers Biscayne Bay to be his front yard, protecting the water quality of our state’s waterways is one of my top priorities, said Althabe “Clean waterways are vital to a healthy economy and quality of life. Every elected official needs to be on the side of clean water, and against the polluters who have no regard for the future of our state.”

Daniel Horton-Diaz
  • Daniel Horton-Diaz, Democrat in District 120. 

“For six years, I’ve fought for clean water as a candidate in my district, staffer in the Florida Senate, and as District Chief of Staff serving the Keys and South Dade in Congress,” said Horton-Diaz. “Everything in our community depends on clean water. I’m proud to be a clean-water champion!” 

In county commission races, the following candidates were endorsed:

Sandra Sullivan
  • In Brevard County, Sanda Sullivan, Republican candidate for the District 4 seat.

“I have been a (Indian River) lagoon advocate for years,” she said. “Here in Brevard, we have lost 96% of seagrass and life in the lagoon is dying. I am passionate about being a water warrior at the local level as well as intergovernmental coordination for change at the state and federal level.”

Thomas Lowther
  • In Indian River County, two commission candidates, both Republicans, were endorsed: incumbent Joseph Flescher for the District 2 seat, and Thomas Lowther in District 4.

“Clean water and a healthy lagoon are everyone’s business,” said Flescher. “The community has a responsibility to be good stewards. Local government has a responsibility to fund and seek any and all funding for a multitude of actions and projects and a commitment to return the Lagoon to good health. I have that commitment.”

Said Lowther: “I want people to know that I don’t just talk about our water issues, I spend a lot of time thinking about and implementing real solutions.” 

Sarah Heard
  • In Martin County, incumbent Republican Sarah Heard was endorsed in her quest for another term as District 4 commissioner.

“Clean water has been a top priority for Martin County residents ever since the St. Lucie River was artificially connected to Lake Okeechobee in the late 1920s,” said Heard. “When I first ran for office in 2002, all five sitting commissioners were ignoring the conditions of our rapidly deteriorating water quality, allowing the crisis to escalate. After winning election to my office, I made water quality my top priority.”

  • In Miami-Dade County, incumbent Democrat Danielle Cohen Higgins is running for another term as District 8 commissioner
Mike Cosentino
  • In Sarasota County, Mike Cosentino is seeking the Democratic nod in District 2.

“As a Florida native, I grew up in our woods and on our waters,” said Cosentino. “From the beaches to the boondocks, clean water will guide my decisions. Water is life.”

Merritt Matheson
  • And in the race for Stuart City Commission, District 3 seat, incumbent Merritt Matheson gets the endorsement.

“Our planet’s water systems are well beyond a resource, they are essential for all life,” said Matheson, who currently serves as Stuart’s Mayor. “Improving and preserving water and working with nature in doing so must be a top priority for decision-makers at every level.”

VoteWater’s 2022 Florida Primary voter guide ranks candidates at the federal, state, and county commission level in Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. VoteWater staff and volunteers utilized a variety of methods to determine the rankings, including questionnaires, campaign finance data, voting records and public statements on water/environmental issues.

The guides can be found at