Press Release NAPLES DAILY NEWS | September 23, 2020
What is your experience that would help you in office, and what are you most proud of in your career? What’s the most important act that you would accomplish in the next two years?
As a corporate administrator for an international insurer, I pushed the limits for women in the insurance industry. As the sole owner and manager, I built a company from the ground up sharing the profits with our trading associates. As a volunteer for my political party, I gained experience at the local, regional and state levels; was elected as the Collier County State Committeewoman and appointed as a Vice Chair for the state party. Giving back as a civic leader and community volunteer, I’ve learned about the everyday challenges facing Floridians. But my greatest accomplishment and favorite job has been that of a mother to our two daughters and grandmother to four, the youngest born on the Fourth of July!
Twenty-two years of one-party rule has resulted in business/financial interests and short-term profits being prioritized over people and long-term stability. With deficits already estimated at $5.4 billion over two years from the pandemic, it will be important that healthcare and education don’t suffer. The tax burden should be shared and not rest entirely on our citizens, but corporations as well. Waste must be eliminated, inefficiency reduced, lawsuits against our citizens resolved, and unnecessary projects shelved — conserving public taxes will be our first priority.
What is the biggest priority that you can achieve in each of the four following areas in your term: On schools, on the environment, on health care and minority affairs?
EDUCATION: The Florida State Constitution provides by law “for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high-quality system of free public schools” and protects religious liberty by ensuring that religion and government remain separate. I haven’t given up on better public schools for everyone. Vouchers for private and religious schools, while helping some children, drain funds to realize that goal. This current use of our public taxes doesn’t come with any of the hurdles faced by traditional public schools. Any school that receives public funding, including public charter schools, should have the same oversight, standards, requirements, supervision, and accountability as traditional public schools … and must be permitted under our State Constitution.
ENVIRONMENT: This is our HOME. Our health, lifestyle, jobs, investments, and economy depend on clean water — groundwater is 90% of our drinking water. Building the immense and costly Everglades Reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area/EAA will take 8-10 years and only serve to store water; without a plan to clean the water it will not meet the federal standards to be released into the Everglades. We spent millions in 2018 to clean up toxic blue-green algae, dead fish, and wildlife from red tide — while losing billions in property values, the fishing and boating industries, and tourism. We know that pollution is a steroid for red tide. It’s cheaper and more effective to clean up pollution at its source. In the public sector we need to address storm water run-off, aging septic tanks, and failing sanitation systems. Animal waste from ranching, mining by-products, chemicals and fertilizers from industry and agriculture — we must stop pollution at its source and hold polluters accountable for the costs.
HEALTHCARE: With the pandemic, healthcare is more essential than ever for you and your family. My opponent consistently votes against women’s healthcare and he and the FL Legislature have reduced public health funding by 41% since 2008. We know that in the long run, good health is less expensive for you, for your employer, and for the state of Florida. As your State Representative I will fight to improve your healthcare, not reduce it. I support full access to substance abuse and mental health services. As recommended by an external audit, the Kid Care program should be compared to other states and improvements made accordingly. Expanding Medicaid once and for all in Florida will cover 800 thousand more Floridians and the cost savings balance out due to federal taxes being returned to our state.
MINORITY AFFAIRS: Racial inequity in Florida’s criminal justice system is unjust, ineffective, dangerous, and increasingly expensive. Stop the school to prison pipeline; stop arming teachers and improve public school regulation of police resource officers to be racially neutral. End the racially biased cash bail system for misdemeanors — it criminalizes poverty and even a few days in jail could mean job loss and affect housing or child custody. End mandatory sentencing and racially disparate criminal sentences. These proposals are not only just, but less expensive.
What sets you apart from your opponent? What issue separates you the most from that candidate?
My opponent voted to increase the difficulty for citizen ballot initiatives, arm teachers, reduce funding to Collier public schools by changing the cost formula, and use public taxes for private religious schools even when those schools discriminate. He sponsored bills to promote open carry and campus carry and add civil immunity to Stand your Ground. But in four years the incumbent hasn’t sponsored one bill that changes the statutes to help solve any environmental issue. He did have time to suggest an amendment increasing Key West’s evacuation time period that would reduce public safety and result in even more unadvised development; and also voted to repeal the Key West ban on sunscreens that damage the coral reefs. He funds his campaign with donations from lobbyists, special interests, and corporations.
I don’t accept campaign donations from lobbyists, special interests, or corporations. I believe in people over profits, families over corporations, and democracy over greed. I support citizen rights, public safety, healthcare, our environment and public education. I know that climate change is real, and that Florida is ground zero. I am clean, green and sugar-free; and endorsed by VoteWater and other organizations that understand how important the environment is to our economy.
As a candidate for office I feel it’s my duty to take a position on public safety. It would be irresponsible of me not to educate the public about what statistics and studies inform us about guns in our society and in our homes. Guns do not make your safer, and I support universal background checks for every gun sale and transfer and repealing a certain statute that only serves to escalate violence and protect people with violent backgrounds. The Stand Your Ground law in Florida began in Florida, was written by the NRA, and spread to twenty-six other states. It was strengthened by my opponent and the FL State Legislature to give civil immunity to anyone who thinks they feel threatened in public — think of a parking space dispute, or a confrontation in Costco and that FL has over two million concealed carry permits — and be careful out there. Having said all that, please don’t assume I don’t support your second amendment rights should you choose to protect yourself by owning a gun and you are not a threat to yourself or others. I’ve considered it myself, and actually received training from a retired police officer that has prepared me to apply for a concealed carry permit. But I also know we can protect our Second Amendment rights and still be safer.
What has the state, the governor and where applicable, the legislature, done right in the handling of the coronavirus crisis? What could have been done better? What needs addressing now?
Millions to design an unemployment system that doesn’t work; millions more in so-called “fixes.” Florida is failing its citizens with the lowest weekly benefit and employer contribution, and shortest duration in the country. The Governor did accept federal assistance for the unemployed, but Florida was one of the last states to accept; and the Governor stopped the program after only four weeks. While vetoing one billion dollars, including the funding of the Sadowski Trust Fund for affordable housing, the Governor failed to cut anything from the $25.5 million planning budget for the “roads to nowhere” which are estimated to cost $10.3 billion to build, will harm the environment, provide limited benefits, and not have any return on investment. The pandemic and the issue of masking was politicized, despite overwhelming evidence supporting their use to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Threatened with school funding and health departments prevented from advising them, school boards were left conflicted between losing funding or risk spreading the virus. While telling everyone else to “get back to work,” my opponent and the State Legislature voted not to return to session to deal with the deficit, ignoring their constitutional responsibility, but conveniently avoiding a difficult debate that could underscore the state’s uncertain economy as voters go to the polls.
What else would you like to share?
I’m an experienced administrator who’s also owned and operated a business. I have a background in regional, state and local politics. My whole life I’ve been a dedicated community volunteer and civic leader, but many of our problems can only be solved by the Florida State Legislature.
I take the word “Representative” seriously: being available and listening to you, no matter what party or none; voting in Tallahassee not just in your stead, but on your behalf and in your best interests; and above all being ethical and responsible as well as open-minded.
I have the skills, experience and determination to do some good in Tallahassee. I promise experienced leadership and practical solutions that conserve our resources, our time and our taxes to create a Florida that works … for all of us.