The Florida Department of Transportation’s official highway roster is replete with roads named in honor of historic events, former presidents, state leaders and war heroes. Now there may be a name change in honor of the nation’s most recent president.
Anthony Sabatini, a Florida House of Representatives member and lawyer, announced recently that he will be sponsoring an amendment during the 2021 legislative session to rename U.S. 27 — which includes Apalachee Parkway — the President Donald J. Trump Highway.
“I’m looking forward to working on this important designation honoring one of the greatest Presidents in American History,” Sabatini tweeted. “PROUD to propose this legislation honoring … and our first Floridian President! #MAGA”
Sabatini’s announcement received mixed responses on his social media pages, and the Republican lawmaker dismissed the criticism and launched a petition drive to persuade his Democratic colleagues in the Legislature.
Congressman and pro-Trump supporter Byron Donalds voiced his opinion on the U.S. 27 name change and petition.
“While I am a supporter of former President Trump’s policies, this is truly a matter of the state. The renaming of US Highway 27 to President Donald J. Trump Highway is ultimately up to the people of Florida and the members of the Florida state Legislature to decide. The 45th president proudly calls Florida home, and throughout his tenure, the president represented our state and the nation well. If Floridians believe the former president is worthy of this honor, I have no objections,” Donalds said.
Eugene Fultz, the Polk County mayor, is opposed to renaming U.S. Highway 27.
“U.S. 27 should not be renamed because of the legacy it upholds. Let’s not take honor from our veterans, to honor a man that has brought dishonor to our nation. A man that has emboldened racists, conspiracy theorists, and anti-Semitics to insurrection is not someone that needs to be held in high esteem,” Fultz said.
In 1999, the Florida Legislature named large sections of the 1,373-mile highway Claude Pepper Memorial Highway after Florida’s longtime U.S. senator and congressman.
The highway stretches from Fort Wayne, Ind. to Miami and runs through Sabatini’s district. This would affect more than 400 miles through the state of Florida.
After Sabatini’s announcement on Twitter, a petition was started against the name change and more than 10,000 people have signed it.
Nicholas Bique, a state communications staff member, isn’t too thrilled with Sabitini’s plan for the highway and is considering signing the opposing petition.
“I’m absolutely against the name change. Trumpism is not conservatism nor is it Republicanism. Too many people, including myself, were willing to settle and roll the dice after he was elected to at least try and get something done,” Bique said.
Lawmakers in other states have tried to rename roads after Trump, but if Sabatini’s plan for the President Donald J. Trump Highway reaches the House or Senate floor, more discussion can be expected on whether or not U.S. 27 will be renamed.