– Producer Rick Roth runs for Congress –
What makes someone decide after decades of farming to run for U.S. Congress? Republican Rick Roth says it’s simply the next step in a lifetime of community service and grassroots political activism.
Roth filed in December to run for Florida’s 18th Congressional District seat being vacated by Patrick Murphy, who’s running for the U.S. Senate. The district includes St. Lucie and Martin counties and part of Palm Beach County.
Roth has lived his whole life in the shadow of the Everglades. He was born in Belle Glade, where his father farmed. He was in the last class – 1970 – of Belle Glade High School, where his mother was a member of the first class in 1946. After earning a math degree from Emory University, he returned to his roots.
Over time, Roth’s business has grown into a large, diversified growing, shipping and packing operation. He grows vegetables and sugar cane and owns a state-of-the-art packinghouse handling radishes, green beans, and sweet corn and field-packed produce for many Glades area growers.
In addition to his dawn-to-dusk responsibilities in the fields and the packinghouse, Roth has promoted Florida agriculture at the state and national levels. He has served on FFVA’s board of directors since 1986 and on the Florida Farm Bureau Board of Directors in several capacities, including as vice president for 10 years. He’s a well-known advocate in Tallahassee and Washington D.C.
By being active in the political process for over 30 years, Roth says he understands that laws are made by building coalitions and working with both sides of the aisle. As part of his advocacy work in coordination with local Chamber of Commerce groups, he organized field trips tours for local fifth-graders and elected officials. “No matter who the group is, the better people understand how and why farmers farm the way they do, the better off farmers are. People see it, and they get it,” he said.
Now’s the time
After stepping back from some of his state Farm Bureau responsibilities, Roth said he was searching for a new mission. Noting that the Glades community has its own set of problems, he wanted to find a way for local businessmen to give back to the community.
That was the catalyst for his decision to run for public office, he said.
Roth says his background in agriculture and as a business owner gives him a foundation on which to build a political future. “Agriculture is an amazing industry because it’s policy-driven – trade policy, immigration policy, farm bill, water policy, regulatory reform, food safety – all of these issues cross party lines. Everyone needs to be engaged to get sound legislation passed,” he said.
“The most important thing our nation must tackle is getting people back to work,” Roth said. “Donald Trump is a symptom of the mistrust constituents have in career politicians and both parties. He has been able to speak to the mood of the country. People are totally fed up with politics – career politicians in both parties making the same promises that all sound good but don’t deliver. Voters want straightforward talk. Tell us what you’re going to do and what you stand for. That’s what people are asking for. They want their elected officials to listen and solve the country’s problems.”
Service and experience
Roth believes that being elected to office means serving. “Career politicians are always running for the next election and doing what’s politically correct rather than making some hard choices and what’s best for the country,” he said. “The bottom line is we all want the same things. We want a good education for our kids. We want a roof over our heads, food on the table, the opportunity to get a decent job or to grow our business, put our kids through college, to retire and live comfortably. We need elected leaders that have common principles that they abide by.”
Elected leaders should work toward solutions that benefit the business community and then the community as a whole by removing government-imposed barriers, Roth said. “People want government to stop messing with stuff.”
He supports a simpler tax code with lower rates and what he calls a cheap energy policy. “We have a cheap car policy and a cheap food policy. We need a cheap energy policy, too. Being self-sufficient in our nation’s energy needs solves a host of international and domestic problems. Lower costs, less regulation, and lower corporate tax rates would encourage companies to bring their businesses back to America.”
Asked what he brings to the table in the race, Roth points to his experience as a small business owner. The small business owner, he says, must understand all the issues. Management is focused on sales and production, but it also must handle workers compensation, health, property and liability insurance, liability and taxes, he said.
Roth says it’s important for business owners to get behind candidates they believe in, not simply those who a mathematical formula says stand the best chance of being elected. “Voters should be encouraged to vote for a candidate who holds the same values and best represents their views,” he said.
Florida’s primary election is Aug. 30 and the general election is Nov. 8. Also running in the crowded District 18 race are Republicans Rebecca Negron, Carl Domino, Brian Mast, Rick Kozell, Noelle Nikpur and Carla Spaulding, and Democrats Randy Perkins and Jonathan Chane. Any updates in this list will be posted here.
Roth’s campaign website is www.RickRothforCongress.com.