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Rene “Coach P” Plasencia, a UCF alumnus and current member of the Florida House of Representatives, has become the first candidate to qualify by petition for the 2016 election in Florida House District 50, according to a press release from his campaign.

In order to get on the ballot for the Florida House of Representatives, candidates must “qualify by petition.” They must receive at least 1,000 valid signatures from registered voters in their district. Plasencia’s campaign said they had gathered more than 1,118 signatures in a May 10 press release.

“The easiest way to get signatures is going door-to-door,” Plasencia said. “I started knocking on doors in July 2015 around my regular job and around holidays, piecing together [the signatures I needed].”

Angie Gallo, Plasencia’s campaign manager, said that the representative went door-to-door in District 50, which includes southeastern Orange County and some of Brevard County. A “mega-walk” event in April drew more than 60 volunteers for his campaign.

Plasencia, a Republican, earned his psychology degree from UCF, where he was on the track and cross-country teams. He graduated in 1996. Plasencia said he was a government and history teacher at Colonial High School for 15 years before winning election to the Florida House of Representatives in 2014.

Plasencia currently represents District 49, which contains the UCF campus. Plasencia said he’s running in District 50 this year because that district’s current representative, Tom Goodson, is moving to District 51.

“District 49 is difficult for Republicans to win. I should not have won it [in 2014],” Plasencia said. “I would’ve been worried about my chances in [District] 49 this year, but that’s not the reason I’m moving over. If Goodson hadn’t been moving over, I would be staying in District 49.”

Plasencia expressed confidence about the District 50 election this year.

“A Republican is going to win in District 50 regardless of what happens,” he said.

Plasencia has helped pass several bills during his two years in the House, including a bill that increased the statute of limitations for certain rape cases from four years to eight years; “Chloe’s Law,” which helped erect guardrails to shield water bodies contiguous with state roads; and a bill that helped increase pensions for the family members of some police officers killed in the line of duty.

“I didn’t go up there to sit at a desk or have a title, I went there to get a job done for people who need representation,” Plasencia said. “I think you can respect people who take their job seriously and respect every single person that they know their job is impacting in our state.”

Plasencia currently has one Republican opponent, George Collins, whom he hopes to defeat in the Republican primary election on August 30. If Plasencia wins in August, he will move on to the November 8 general election.

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Alex is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future. You can reach him at alexander.storer@gmail.com.

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