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Young star on the rise

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  • | 11:00 a.m. November 18, 2016
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Stereotypical ambivalent and apathetic young people: Meet Amber Mariano.

She turned 21 on Oct. 18, and Mariano already sealed her first major go-getter accomplishment: youngest person ever in Florida to be elected to the state House.
Mariano, a Republican and the daughter of Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano, defeated incumbent State House Rep. Amanda Murphy, a Democrat, in the race for House District 36. The district covers a swath of west Pasco County and New Port Richey, just north of Pinellas County.

“This is a dream come true,” Mariano tells Coffee Talk. “Ever since I was a kid, 6 years old, I've wanted to be the first female president. Usually kids grow out of that. I never did.”

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, a Polk County native elected to a state House seat in 1996 when he was 22, held the youngest person ever mantle for two decades. Since you have to be at least 21 years old to hold elected office in Florida, Mariano might keep the record for a long time.

A senior at the Burnett Honors College at the University of Central Florida studying political science with a focus in American policy, Mariano prefers to talk about issues, not her youth. But it was a constant theme at rallies and door-to-door canvassing for votes during the campaign. There were either people excited to see someone so young defying stereotypes or people who thought Mariano was an intern or a gofer. “It doesn't help that I look even younger than I am,” says Mariano.

One issue Mariano wants to focus on in her first term is local and personal to voters, in addressing flooding issues that clog west Pasco streets, she says, even in the littlest storm. Funding for education is a statewide issue she plans to target in Tallahassee.

Another issue she has to deal with is putting off law school, at least for the next two years. “A lot of people think when you win a campaign the hard work is over,” says Mariano. “But I think it's just beginning.”


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