By: Jen Russon
Kristin Jacobs, a Florida State Representative whose name was synonymous with protecting the environment and advocating for a living wage, died on Easter weekend at the age of 60 after a long battle with colon cancer.
A mother and grandmother, Jacobs was working from a hospital bed during her last legislative session, earning a standing ovation when her bill banning the sale of shark fins headed for a vote by the full House.
That same bill also pushes for a statewide inventory of water infrastructure needs that were important to Jacobs, a member of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Committee.
Jacobs’ three children wrote in a memorial tribute that their mother and grandmother to their children loved the natural beauty of Florida, as well as camping and cycling.
In a 22-year long political career, Jacobs focused on preserving and protecting the Sunshine State’s environment, at one time serving on an Obama Administration Task Force in 2008.
“Anytime I visit one of Florida’s springs or other natural places, I will think of her. We all cared for her deeply, and she will be missed,” said Florida House Leader Kionne L. McGhee.
Peers from Tallahassee and beyond spoke warmly about Jacobs, including Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, who worked with Jacobs on landmark legislation in response to the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“Kristin was fierce, kind, strong, compassionate, and a wonderful person – beautiful inside and out. She was an incredible mentor and friend. Kristin left her mark on this world, and we are all better off having known her and having had her representing us,” said Hunschofsky.
Beginning in politics on the Broward County Commission, Jacobs, who lived in Coconut Creek, also represented the city of Parkland. She served the commission for 16 years, including a term as county mayor, and was twice elected to the Florida House of Representatives over five years ago.
In that amount of time, she earned a reputation for herself as a fierce warrior said former State Rep. Jared Moskowitz, who represented Coral Springs.
Moskowitz said their two Democratic votes helped to narrowly achieve bold legislation that raised the age for firearm purchases in Florida from 18 to 21, as well as increased funding for mental health services that make it easier for law enforcement to seize guns from violent people.
Jacobs, who at one time struggled in an abusive marriage and worked on legislation to protect women from domestic violence, was diagnosed in 2017 with cancer.
Her peers in Tallahassee knew she was undergoing extensive chemotherapy treatments and traveling around Florida to receive it, yet noted how this did not appear to slow Jacobs down.
“She was a champion of the people and an effective leader on environmental issues. She fought brave and hard to the very end, with the courage to present legislation even when she was visibly ill,” said Deputy Leader Representative Richard Stark.
Jacobs’ boyfriend, Steve Vancore mourned her passing, recalling how Jacobs wanted nothing more than to bridge the divides and build a consensus among Republicans and Democrats alike.
“She was a warrior who made sure both armies came along with her,” he said.
- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.