Every candidate is given the opportunity to answer our candidate questionnaire. Below are the answers to the question this candidate chose to answer as submitted.
Political Party: Nonpartisan
Education: M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the American College of Education
Office Running For: Florida Senate, District 17
Current Employment: Talent Acquisition Specialist
Where are you from: Palm Bay, FL
Why are you running: We are living in, arguably, the most divisive time in recent American history. One of the many reasons for this is because we don’t have many leaders showing a better way.
I am running for the Florida Senate with no party affiliation because I want to not only pass legislation that is good for our community and our state, but also because I want to be a bridge builder between opposing political views.
What are your top three priorities if you are elected:
As a former educator, my primary focus is on education reform that begins with paying our teachers and their support staff a living wage ($50,000 minimum for instructional staff). This would be funded by a tax on corporations here in Florida.
My second priority mirrors the first, but is focused on our first responders and social workers. These careers, like that of an educator, have incredibly high turnover fueled in large part by wages that aren’t livable. For these roles as well, I will fight for a $50,000 minimum wage.
Finally, addressing Climate Change in an economically mature fashion is another essential priority. By definition, renewable energy brings with it renewable jobs. The sunshine state should capitalize on this, and work to grow in our dependence on renewable energy and the job market it comes with.
What do you think is the number 1 problem in your district related to the office you are running for:
Education is the number one problem that District 17 faces. Brevard Public Schools is one of the largest employers in Brevard, and yet nearly all its workers are underpaid. Our local economy suffers for it, not to mention the sub-par education that students in both Brevard and Indian River face due to obstacles that are, too often, insurmountable by the instructional staff and school administration. Every single member in a community benefits, either directly or indirectly, if the public schools are functioning well.
How will you involve your constituents in your decision making: I’m knocking on a lot of doors right now to campaign, but I don’t think that should stop once I’m in office. I plan on basing my work schedule around local events, city council meetings, and knocking on the doors of residents in my community. Every day I should be meeting new residents and community members, hearing about their concerns.
Of course I’l use social media, surveys, and newsletters as well. When there is an issue I’ll be voting on that I may not have a clear idea of how my community is feeling, I will use both online surveys and independent poling agencies to get an idea of how the community would like me to vote.
Do you plan to run for a higher office: My focus is on education reform, and the best place to address that is at the state level. When my terms are maxed out, I may consider running for Senate at the Federal level. This would be a careful decision my wife and I would make as a team at that time.
How will you address infrastructure in your district: District 17 is pretty large, covering a lot of mileage. I would need to ensure I have a solid working relationship with the leaders of each municipality to understand what the infrastructure needs are for them. Then I will work to secure state level funds to support these efforts.
It’s also important that I show support for these municipalities when they run into trouble, and hold them accountable when they mismanage any funding they receive. One of the jobs of the government right now is to earn back peoples’ trust, and we can’t do that if we are misspending the money entrusted to us.
How will you address crime in your district? Well, the first step to addressing crime is ensuring that we have a police force that is well trained to deescalate tense situations and approach diverse groups of people. Law enforcement begins with relationship building over the long term, developing trust with the people served.
But this type of work is difficult. To keep the best officers in the field, we need to increase pay to help reduce turnover and make the field more competitive.
To recap, we need well paid officers who stay in the field for a long time developing healthy relationship with all the communities they serve.
How will you address affordable housing? Affordable housing can be addressed through a variety of tactics, but the one I feel has the most promise is putting forth regulatory changes which can help get land zoned for smaller, more affordable, housing (really focused on sub-900 sq. ft homes). The goal should be helping residents purchase their own homes and build wealth, but this is simply unattainable for many when a large majority of homes in our area are large and expensive.
How will you address environmental concerns in your district?: The two primary environmental concerns we have in Brevard and Indian River are a) the Indian River Lagoon and b) Climate Change.
Regarding the Indian River Lagoon, the job of the state legislator should be to acquire state funding to support restoration efforts of the lagoon and to help pass legislation that would prevent harmful chemicals (such as fertilizers) from getting into the lagoon to begin with.
Regarding Climate Change, our District should do its part to reduce emissions and generate money in the local economy through installing more sources of renewable energy, primarily solar panels. State subsidies that reduce the cost of solar panels and electric vehicles would help in this effort.
Why are you a better choice than your opponents: My opponent has been affiliated with state politics for a number of years, and though she has done some good work in acquiring money for the Indian River Lagoon, she has not been an avid voice for educators in our area. Moreover, she is funded largely by organizations that I don’t feel should have a say in our politics (car companies, tobacco companies, PACs, etc.).
My campaign is funded entirely by small donations from local residents. No, we likely won’t raise nearly as much money as our opponent, but at least we will be financially tied to the people we serve and no one else.
What is your past political experience:
I have no past political experience, but that is something I believe serves me as a strength at this time.
Opponents and the media research public records, police reports, credit information and do other background checks in an effort to discover tax liens, lawsuits, arrest records and other unfortunate things. Are there any issues your opponent could use against you that you wish to disclose:
I was given Saturday School when I was in eighth grade. It was rough.
Are there any other comments you’d like to make? Let me be clear, I am running as an unheard of NPA candidate with funding only coming from small donations, and I’m up against a millionaire republican with plenty of name recognition and in a district generally considered “red”.
On paper, I should lose.
But I believe that we can do better for our communities, primarily by leading discourse that brings people together instead of pulling people apart. Moreover, I will fight for our education system which serves all of us, whether directly or indirectly.
That is something worth the fight.
Please list any websites or social media links to your campaign if you have any: