The 52-year-old Brandon native served in the Peace Corps and worked at a number of public policy positions in Washington D.C. before returning home three years ago to take care of her ailing mother. Over time she became slowly enmeshed in local Democratic politics, and now she's the Democratic nominee for House in District 59, an open reconfigured seat that was previously held by Republican Rachel Burgin.
Gottlieb says her road to becoming a candidate began when she volunteered for Democratic Congressional candidate Doug Tudor's unsuccessful race for Congress in 2010. She then became actively involved in the Eastern Hillsborough Democratic club based in Brandon before taking the plunge for the first time as a candidate this year.
When asked about the fact that Tallahassee is essentially a one-party town these days, she says, "If you love Florida, you have to do something to get involved," and talks about how moderate Republicans were able to work with Democrats in the past couple of sessions to stop certain pieces of legislation (such as on prison privatization) that can be a model until the Dems increase their ranks.
Republicans hold a super-majority in both houses of the legislature. Gottlieb believes Democrats need to take it one election at a time to cut into that, and says redistricting helps the party's chances of doing that.
Seizing on a recent report from Integrity Florida that documented how over the past decade Florida led the country in federal convictions for corruption, Gottlieb says she'll fight for higher ethical standards in the Capitol.
She also talks about supporting the Florida Forever program that has seen its contributions to preserving land in the Sunshine State drop precipitously in recent years, and regarding the severe cutbacks to higher education, refers to that as "penny wise and pound foolish."
Gottlieb's GOP opponent is Dover attorney Ross Spano, who says he's committed to limiting and reducing the size of state government. He doesn't support Forever Florida.
One his website Spano writes that "big government is ineffective, unaccountable, and cumbersome, and when unchecked, it eventually encroaches on the individual rights and liberty of its citizens." (CL intends to write a future post on Spano).
In addition to Brandon, House District 59 also encompasses Riverview and Valrico.