|Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 62nd district
November 20, 2012
|Preceded by||Richard Glorioso|
|Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 58th district
March 2, 2010 – November 20, 2012
|Preceded by||Michael Scionti|
|Succeeded by||Dan Raulerson|
July 7, 1956 |
|Spouse(s)||Dr. Stephen "Steve" Rifkin|
|Children||Ana Cruz, Raymond "Nick" Cruz, Stephen Rifkin, Lauren McCauley|
|Alma mater||Hillsborough Community College (A.A.S.)|
Janet Cruz (born July 7, 1956) is a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 62nd District, which includes northwestern Hillsborough County, stretching from downtown Tampa to Town 'n' Country, since 2012, previously representing the 58th District from 2010 to 2012.
Cruz was born in Tampa and attended Hillsborough Community College, where she graduated with an Associate degree in opticianry in 1977. She had her first child at the age of 16 and started a small business to support herself and her family. Cruz owns and operates Pearle Vision Centers, and worked as a Regional Director for Cigna Healthcare in Senior Group Sales.
Florida House of Representatives
On December 13, 2009, State Representative Michael Scionti resigned from the House to serve as the Deputy Assistant secretary of Defense for Intergovernmental Affairs and Homeland Defense, which prompted a special election in the 58th District. Cruz opted to run in the special election, despite the fact that she did not live in the district, and faced Pat Kemp, the Chairwoman of the Hillsborough County Democratic Party, and Gil Sanchez, an attorney, in the Democratic primary. She came under fire for not living in the district, and responded by emphasizing her west Tampa roots, noting, "I walk into the West Tampa Sandwich Shop and know every person at every table. West Tampa is not a physicality, it's a way of life. My heritage is there." The Tampa Tribune endorsed Cruz, noting that she "is well-connected to the Hispanic community but is concerned with the needs of all residents in the mostly working-class district," and suggesting that "Cruz would be more effective in the Republican-dominated legislature." In a low-turnout primary election, Cruz narrowly edged out Kemp by 53 votes with 47% of the vote to Kemp's 45% and Sanchez's 8%. In the general election, she faced Hunter Chamberlin, the Republican nominee, whom she easily defeated with 65% of the vote, and was sworn into her first term. Later that year, during regularly scheduled elections, she ran for re-election against independent candidate Joe Redner, whom she dispatched with 73% of the vote without much difficulty.
In 2012, following the reconfiguration of House districts, Cruz was moved into the newly created 62nd District, which included most of the territory she had previously represented in the 58th District. She was unopposed in the Democratic primary, and encountered Wesley Warren, the Republican nominee, in the general election. Cruz was endorsed by both the Tampa Bay Times and the Tampa Tribune in her bid for re-election. The Times observed that Cruz "has a good working relationship with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and has strong ties in her native Tampa," while the Tribune praised her for doing "a good job serving her constituents and working successfully with the Republican-dominated House." Ultimately, Warren did not present much of a challenge for Cruz, and she easily defeated him with 70% of the vote.
While serving in the legislature, Cruz joined with fellow State Representative Lori Berman to propose legislation that would ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in the state of Florida. Additionally, she strongly supported legislation that would "allow supervisors of elections to offer up to 14 days of early voting, and 12 hours of voting each day," in response to especially long lines at early voting locations during the 2012 elections.
- Zink, Janet (December 7, 2009). "Scionti leaving Florida House for Defense Department post". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
- Zink, Janet (December 21, 2009). "Hillsborough Democratic Party chief Pat Kemp enters state House race". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
- "Cruz and Rojas-Quinones in District 58 primaries". Tampa Tribune. January 16, 2010. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
- "For a better Florida House". Tampa Bay Times. October 18, 2012. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
- "Gottlieb, Cruz and Harrison for state House". Tampa Tribune. October 6, 2012. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
- Koff, Rochelle (April 10, 2013). "Democratic women want legislators to know: 'We're watching'". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
- Heller, Dave (May 3, 2013). "Big-Fix Elections Bill Passes". Sunshine State News. Retrieved May 7, 2014.