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Florida’s 5th Congressional District

District extends from Jacksonville’s core and lower Westside through Baker, northern Columbia and other counties to the west past Tallahassee

Map of Northeast Florida's congressional districts
Map of Northeast Florida's congressional districts (Florida Senate)

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson prevailed in a three-way Democratic primary and Jacksonville businessman Gary Adler defeated a Republican opponent to advance to the general election in November

Republican Gary Adler and Democrat Al Lawson
Republican Gary Adler and Democrat Al Lawson (WJXT)

MORE: League of Women Voters/WJCT’s 5th Congressional District Forum

Scroll down to read each candidate’s responses to News4Jax’s questionnaire, presented verbatim as submitted.


Gary Adler

Party: Republican

Age: (no answer)

Candidate’s family: (no answer)

Occupation: Business Owner

Education: Jacksonville University, Graduate

Political experience: Local Community involved volunteer / leader

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

  • The effects of the economic breakdown from the Corona virus and safely and appropriately opening the economy back up and putting citizens bank to work
  • Addressing racial inequities through continued open dialogue without caving to a mob mentality
  • Improving healthcare accessibility and improving quality education access through school choice

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

Actually meet with local communities throughout District 5 and listen to the needs of citizens, communicate the concerns and problems with Washington, and diligently work on the necessary legislation to employment these concerns and opportunities. I am A Problem solver !

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

That I made a positive difference for the quality of life, For all the Citizens of District 5; and leave the office of Congress having served district 5 , in a much better position with regard to healthcare , Educational options , poverty , safety , economic opportunity , and Community enthusiasm and pride.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

I will hold regular town hall meetings with local Elected and volunteer leaders , clergy and Local law enforcement, and bring together- with conversation and sponsored civic events to help all citizens realize that we are more alike than we are different, and our goals and aspirations can be better achieved with a stronger sense of community

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

To fast track the ability to help those struggling financially, with assistance in funding , food/ supplies and safety . To make masks , testing and health safety information readily available , To be smart and safe with the process of opening up the economy , and educate the public to eliminate the anxiety and fearfulness of doing so.

Campaign website: electadler.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook | Twitter


Al Lawson

Party affiliation: Democrat (incumbent)

Age: 71

Candidate’s family: Delores Lawson, Al Lawson III, Shani Lawson Wilson

Occupation: Insurance: Agent

Education: Florida A&M University (BA, 1970); Florida State University (MPA, 1973)

Political experience: Served 28 years in the Florida Legislature representing Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison and Wakulla counties. Elected to the House of Representatives, 1982-2000. Minority (Democratic) Leader, 2008-2010. Elected to the Senate in 2000. Elected to the U.S. Congress in 2016.

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

  • Improving access to quality health care
  • Helping our families, small businesses and local communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Ensuring our children have all the resources they need for a quality education that will help bring families out of poverty and into the middle-class.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I have a 30-year record of helping North Florida. The voters can trust that there is only one candidate in this race who will ALWAYS put the interest of all people first. Throughout my career, I have built relationships with community leaders, advocacy groups and organizations — gaining a firmer grasp of what resources are needed to make our communities stronger.

Throughout this global health crisis, I worked to secure more than $480 million in the COVID-19 stimulus package, which provided direct deposits to First Coast families, kept our transportation services in operation and helped our health care facilities. I also brought down an additional $2.2 million for public housing to help residents cover childcare and medical travel costs during the pandemic.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, I fought to protect the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits for over 22 million seniors in our country, voted to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), pushed for additional funding for community health centers, and blocked attempts to dismantle the Affordable CareAct, which would have kicked 23 million Americans off their health care and stripped away protections for pre-existing conditions for tens of millions more.

I understand the importance of prioritizing community projects, such as cleaning up the contamination at the Fairfax Wood Treaters Superfund site, working to create the first national POW/MIA Memorial and Museum at Cecil Field, and establishing a VA Hospital in Jacksonville. I have also worked on critical infrastructure improvements to JAXPORT's Blount Island Marine Terminal, JTA's Bay Street Innovation Corridor, the City of Jacksonville's Urban Core Riverfront Revitalization project, and several projects that promote job growth and ultimately create a stronger economy.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

I am a humble servant. Like Shirley Chisholm, I firmly believe, "Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth." I would hope to be remembered for standing tall on the issues that matter most and always putting the people of North Florida first.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

As someone who grew up in the heart of segregation, I have first-hand accounts of racial inequality and injustice. We are at a crossroad in America, and it's up to us to take the best path forward. While serving in the Florida House of Representatives, I sponsored and passed the first reparations from a legislative body in the United States to the victims of the Rosewood Massacre. Throughout my political career, I have worked to right the wrongs of our past and end racial injustices at every step.

In the wake of George Floyd's and Breonna Taylor's murders, I addressed the call for racial justice by cosponsoring the Justice in Policing Act, which requires police officers to wear body cameras, ends the usage of chokeholds as a practice and ends "No Knock Warrants." There must be accountability and transparency. We must rebuild the trust between police departments and the communities they serve. We must ensure we are inclusive when we are asking for justice — women lives, trans lives— they must matter as well. We need to tackle racial inequities in our education system and take a closer look at the inequities within the criminal justice system that result in these mass incarcerations. If re-elected, I will continue to fight to ensure America is moving forward and that this is more than a moment, but a longstanding movement.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

Never in my lifetime did I expect we would be experiencing something of this magnitude. Although we cannot physically meet with constituents, organizations and other Members of Congress, we must do everything we can to get this COVID-19 pandemic under control so that we can save lives and get people back to work. Too many people are hurting right now, have lost their jobs, are worried about their health and are concerned about their future for us to sit back and wait. COVID-19 cases are spiking drastically, threatening the lives and jobs of many in our community. That is why I have been and will continue to fight for access to additional COVID-19 testing sites to help flatten the curve, funding for businesses to keep employees on payroll and doors open, and hazard pay for our frontline workers who are risking their lives to keep our community going. We have more work to do, and our assistance is needed to help Americans cope with this crisis.

Campaign website: www.allawson.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook | Twitter