Email insights: Former state Rep. Joe Saunders accepts new post as regional field director for the Human Rights Campaign

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A month after losing his seat to Republican Rene Plasencia, former Central Florida state Rep. Joe Saunders is brushing the loss off and moving on to his next endeavor.

In an email, Saunders announced his new gig working as the Southern regional field director for the 1.5 million-member Human Rights Campaign.

“I’m just now feeling recovered and ready to rejoin the world of the living,” Saunders wrote in an email.

Saunders was one of two to earn the title of first openly gay members of the Florida House of Representatives. His new post with the HRC will mean he continues to work with the LGBT community for full equality under the law.

“As the Southern Regional Field Director I’ll be leading HRC’s legislative and electoral programs in the southern United States and taking so many of the lessons I’ve learned as both an organizer and a legislator to every corner of the South,” Saunders wrote.

Saunders notes there is still much work to do in Florida as it pertains to equality, but looks forward to working to help pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act he sponsored while in the House. The non-discrimination bill would make Florida the first state in the South to ban discrimination within the LGBT community.

“It is the unfinished business I intend to see completed,” Saunders wrote.

Saunders lost to Plasencia by just 717 votes.

Here’s his entire letter:

Friends,

It’s been a month since the election. Like many of you who worked hard this campaign season, I’m just now feeling recovered and ready to rejoin the world of the living.

First, let me thank each of you who sent kind notes about the election night results. The overwhelming support I’ve gotten since the election has been humbling and incredibly uplifting. Thank you for helping to make this transition a hopeful one.

Many of you have asked me (sometimes repeatedly!) what my plans were for the future and I’m excited to announce that my next big adventure will be as the Southern Regional Field Director for the Human Rights Campaign.

With over 1.5 million members and supporters across the USA, HRC is the largest organization in the country fighting for the full equality of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. As the Southern Regional Field Director I’ll be leading HRC’s legislative and electoral programs in the southern United States and taking so many of the lessons I’ve learned as both an organizer and a legislator to every corner of the South.

We’ve still got so much work to do in Florida and what may be most exciting is that I’ll be helping to lead the work to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act — the LGBT non-discrimination bill I had the privilege of sponsoring for my two years in the Legislature.  Florida is poised to be the first state in the South to ban discrimination against the LGBT community. It is the unfinished business I intend to see completed.

Today I’m in Washington, D.C., with the HRC National Field team building plans for the New Year. I’m sure that what we come up with will include all of you. It’s going to take all of us to finish what we started in Florida.

Thank you all again. It’s been an honor to serve you.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.