Who’s Running in the Florida House District 80 Primary?

Election 2020

Collier County voters live in one of three State House districts: 106, 80 or 105. Find your district here.

As I explained in Get Ready to Vote in the August 2020 Primaries, just one Republican and one Democrat are running for the District 106 seat, so there will be no primaries and that race will be on the ballot in November.

In this post, I look at the candidates running in the District 80 primary. In my next post, I will look at the District 105 primaries.

Please see How I Research Candidates and Six Things to Consider When Evaluating Candidates for how I approach writing these posts. I also asked the candidates to complete a questionnaire and included excerpts from their responses as well as links to the complete documents, below.

After reviewing what I learned about each candidate, I close with a look at the money that is financing the campaigns and some suggested next steps.

The Candidates

The candidates running for the District 80 seat are:

  • Republicans: Drew-Montez Clark, Victor Dotres and Lauren Melo
  • Democrat: Laura Novosad

Registered Republicans who live in the district may vote in the closed primary in August. The winner will face Democrat Laura Novosad in November.


Drew-Montez Clark

Drew-Montez Clark
Drew-Montez Clark

Drew-Montez Clark’s website describes him as a ”small business owner of nearly 10 years in SWFL [who] has reached a point in his life where it is no longer acceptable to be silent.”

Clark was born and raised in Danville, VA. He has a Bachelors of Science degree in Human, Nutrition, Foods & Exercise from Virginia Tech and a Doctorate of Chiropractic degree from Life University in Atlanta, GA.

He began practicing Chiropractic in 2009 in Georgia. In 2012, he and his wife Kamela moved to Naples and founded a practice, Arc of Life Family Spinal Care with two other chiropractors The Clarks have three children.

On his website’s Home page, Clark asks, “Who am I?” and answers, “Pro-Life, Pro-Second Amendment; Pro-God; Pro-Trump; Pro-Constitution.” If elected, he says, “Every decision, every support of a bill, every opposition of a bill will be filtered from my values previously stated and your voice.”

The website’s “Personal Values” page lists Faith; Responsibility; and Empowerment.

Candidate questionnaire responses

What diversity of perspective, attributes, knowledge or skills would you bring to the office that differentiates you or that the other candidates don’t have?

”I am a young, black, God fearing, conservative who understands the value & opportunity that education provides for those with access. My 10 years of experience within the healthcare field provide a unique foundational perspective to draw from regarding healthcare policy.”

What three things do you want to accomplish if elected?

  1. Provide District 80 with a voice in Tallahassee;
  2. Protect our constitutional rights;
  3. Healthcare (Education, Access, HSA)

A current public policy position he said he disagrees with is “The decision to raise impact fees in Collier County. Before we seek to raise fees and or taxes I believe that we have a responsibility of stewardship and apparently there was ‘very little discussion with regard to controlling expenses’, according to Commissioner Bill McDaniel.’

The most important thing voters should know about him before making their decision in this race is that “Every decision that I make will be filtered through the lens of the constitution, founded in scripture and backed by the collective voices within District 80.”

Press Coverage

In His Own Words

Victor Dotres

Victor Dotres
Victor Dotres

Victor Dotres’s website says he is a Miami native who has lived in Southwest Florida since 2001. The son of Cuban immigrants, he has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Art Education from the University of Florida and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Administration from Lamar University. Dotres speaks fluent Spanish and Creole, and is a Red Cross Disaster Relief Volunteer and a 2nd Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He has two children who attend Collier public schools.

Dotres has been an instructor with the Collier County Public Schools since 2001, and is currently the physical education teacher at Lake Park Elementary School.

Dotres’ campaign slogan is “Committed to Community, Dedicated to Service,” and in keeping with that, he has run for office many times, albeit unsuccessfully. In 2018, he ran for the Collier Mosquito Control Board, having initially run for School Board and dropped out to endorse another candidate. In 2016, he ran for the Florida House, dropping out after a 2011 disciplinary incident came to light. Before that, he ran for Lee County Supervisor of Elections, Florida House District 105, Lee County School Board, Lee Memorial Hospital board of directors, and one another Florida House seat.

His website lists four “Issues:” Healthcare; Education; Economy and Jobs; and Environment

Candidate questionnaire responses

What diversity of perspective, attributes, knowledge or skills differentiates you from the other candidates?

”I have been committed to my community and dedicated to serving others in Collier County since 2001 as a teacher, as a volunteer and as a coach. Throughout my years of service, I have served as chair and member of numerous committees and organizations.”

What three things do you want to accomplish if elected?

  1. “Help lower health cost for seniors, like my parents, and make insurance companies more responsible for patient wellness and care;”
  2. “Help provide more educational opportunities for all students regardless of where they happen to live;”
  3. “Help preserve our beautiful Florida environment and natural resources for our children and their children.”

A current public policy position he disagrees with is “the Hope Scholarship Program. While this program may have been created with good intentions, it doesn’t effectively address the core problem, the bully. The bullied student is able to find sanctuary while the bully remains there to begin the bullying cycle again with another student.”

The most important thing voters should know about him before making their decision in this race, he wrote (citing Margaret Chase Smith), is that “My creed is that public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation with full recognition that every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration, that constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only expected but fought, that honor is to be earned, not bought.”

Press Coverage

In His Own Words

Lauren Melo

Lauren Melo
Lauren Melo

Lauren Melo’s website says she “is a conservative Republican who supports our President and will fight to protect our second amendment rights, honor our veterans, cut bureaucratic red tape, and grow the economy.”

Melo was born and raised in Southwest Florida and attended Barron Collier High School in Naples. She started a trucking company in 1991 and grew it from a single truck into a large fleet, at one point managing more than one hundred trucks. Today, she owns Florida’s Realty Specialists, a real estate brokerage firm, and is President of the Naples Area Board of Realtors.

Her community involvement has included service on the Board of Directors of HELP (housing, education, lending, programs), and as a guardian ad litem volunteer. She has three children.

Press Coverage

In Her Own Words

The Money

Here is what the candidates for District 80 reported in the most recent Federal Election Commission filings (June 30, 2020):

Melo’s contributions include 71 in the maximum allowable amount of $1,000. Several of those are from political action committees, including Florida Beer Wholesalers Political Committee, Florida Conservative Committee, Florida Farm PAC, Florida Thoroughbred Political Action Committee, Friends of Matt Caldwell, Friends of Ray Rodriguez, Growing Florida’s Future, NextEra Energy Political Action Committee, Realtors Political Action Committee, Realtors Political Activity Committee, Realtors Political Advocacy Committee, and Working Together for Florida PAC. She also received $500 contributions from State Senate Kathleen Passidomo and former elected Collier officials Erika Donalds, Garrett Richter, Sam Saad.

Next Steps

If you are a registered Republican in Florida House District 80, it’s time to decide which of the three candidates to vote for in your party’s closed primary next month.

Review the candidates’ websites and narrow down the possibilities based on what’s most important to you. Then do more research, using the links and references included in this post.

If you have questions, reach out to the candidates directly via the “contact” page/form on their website. If they don’t respond to your satisfaction when they’re running for office, how responsive will they be if elected?

When you’ve done enough research to feel confident about your decisions, you are ready to vote!

For election dates and details about how, when and where to vote, visit www.colliervotes.com.

And if you missed it, please read my post, Request a Vote-By-Mail Ballot Today. The last day to request a Vote-By-Mail ballot to be mailed to you is August 8.

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