Before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was sworn in Tuesday as Florida’s 46th chief executive, there was first a prayer breakfast. It was fitting.

DeSantis will face challenges — although like his predecessor, Rick Scott, he will have the luxury of a Legislature loaded with fellow Republicans, eager to help him succeed. At least that is the expectation. Early indications are DeSantis may have some of his own ideas about what direction the state will take in the next four years.

One topic the new governor has already hinted he may sway from Scott’s eight-year-old path on is the environment. He has called it a “top priority” and is not shameful to call himself a “Teddy Roosevelt-style Republican.” He wants to make restoration of the Everglades and water quality his number one target.

He has discussed protecting our water and beaches by banning fracking and drilling off the coast and asking the Department of Environmental Protection to better monitor waterways.

This alone should be a much-appreciated deviation from the past administration in Tallahassee.

There are other signs that DeSantis will be a different leader than Scott, who succeeded in bringing jobs and economic growth but faltered in our opinion when it came to health care and the environment.

DeSantis has offered an olive branch, if you will, by appointing Democrats to some key positions in state government.

For example, he appointed Democrat Jared Moskowitz to lead the Division of Emergency Management. That was no stretch since the Broward County representative has worked for AshBritt Environmental, the large Deerfield Beach company that specializes in disaster cleanups.

Democrat Jim Zingale was picked to lead the Department of Revenue, overseeing law over general tax, property tax and child support.

Other appointments are encouraging also.

State Rep. Danny Burgess, a captain in the Army Reserve, was a solid pick to head up Veterans Affairs.

Mark Inch, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and a retired two-star Army general, will take over the Department of Corrections. Inch faces a tremendous challenge there, trying to right the ship in a department woefully under funded with aging and overcrowded facilities. On top of that, the charges of heavy-handed treatment of inmates and sexual assaults on female inmates must be dealt with.

Another appointment, selecting former House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a charter school advocate and supporter of vouchers, to head up the Department of Education was disappointing. But, given DeSantis’ history of favoring private schools that was no shock.

The bottom line is DeSantis, who most never imagined would win Florida’s primary much less the governor’s race, is our guy the next four years. To assume he would be a Rick Scott clone is selling him short — we hope.

He deserves a chance to forge his own identity and sell his own ideas both to legislators and the voters. We are rooting for him to usher in an era of bipartisanship in Tallahassee while continuing Florida’s fruitful economic policies. At the same time we implore him to embrace Florida’s under-served mentally ill and those lacking health insurance.

The opportunity for greatness is his to seize.

An editorial from the Charlotte Sun.


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