We Deserve a Legislature That Works For Us, Not the Corporations
The following is a list of local, state and national issues that are near and dear to the people of Jacksonville. The great Tip O’Neill is credited with the observation that “all politics is local” and it was as true in the eighties as it is today. You may agree or disagree with my views, such is your right as an American. Ronald Reagan himself said that we should never all agree 100 % of the time. One thing is certain for us here in Jax though: twenty years of one party establishment rule has sold our legislative body to the highest bidders. This should end in 2018.
Reduce Traffic Through Smarter Planning
No matter who you are or where you stand on any issue, no matter if you choose Coke over Pepsi, we can all agree on this: traffic sucks. Our roadways are consistently clogged making for dangerous commutes for many Northeast Floridians. It is also hurting our small businesses because simply getting around town has become frustrating at best and dangerous at worst. Our city leaders are now falling over themselves to attract major businesses here, however one thing they demand is viable public transportation. We can grow, but we must grow smartly. Many Northeast Florida leaders have recognized the need to expand upon our current commuter rail system so that we have other options besides driving. This will lessen traffic problems for those of us who choose to drive. With less drivers on the road less gas and oil will be used. This will ensure that our dependence on foreign oil will not grow and keep gas prices affordable for all Northeast Floridians. Investment in commuter rail and public transportation benefits us all.
Get Money Out Of our Politics
After twenty years of one party rule here in Florida our state legislature has been sold to a small group of lobbyists who literally write the laws our representatives pass. This must end in 2018! When money was considered free speech in the 70s and then when corporations were considered people in the early 2000s it corrupted our government to no end. The only way we can stop this is if we all resolve to educate ourselves about the issues rather than rely on 30 second ads. I would also call for robust citizen involvement. We should have a healthy mistrust of career politicians. Your vote is not for sale, nor should your state legislature.
End The Establishment Power Monopoly
Our great city of Jacksonville has been ruled by an entrenched establishment party at nearly every level for an entire generation. They take our votes for granted then legislate on behalf of the corporations and lobbyists. We must put an end to Gerrymandering and force our lawmakers to be beholden to the marketplace of ideas. State Senators and Representatives have remarkable power but very little responsibility to the actual voters. We can put an end to this by supporting and electing grass-roots driven candidates and holding them responsible to our communities. As your Representative, I will never forget that you put your trust in me.
Support Education Not Standardized Testing
Our children's education is and shall continue to be a local issue. Here in Jacksonville we can take pride in many of our highly successful schools, teachers, parents and students but many of our schools are falling behind. We can all agree, though, that state mandated testing has become a major obstacle to student growth and learning. Moreover, standardized testing does not measure our student’s growth in any meaningful way but only sustains testing corporation’s profits. We must return power back to our local leaders, teachers, parents and students so that we have more ownership over our schools and can ensure that students get the help they need when they need it. The millions of tax dollars we spend on standardized testing should be available to teachers who put forth the extra time and effort it takes to assess students on a more individual basis. We must find ways to actually help under-performing students rather than simply threatening to hold them back because of high stakes testing. We should also support innovation in teaching by incentivizing creativity in lesson planning and instruction rather than simply “teaching to the test”.
The passage of HB 7069 was a low-point in Florida’s education history. It siphons money away from schools which are already chronically underfunded in favor of corporate conglomerates. I am not entirely against the charter schools to give parents more school choices, however politicians who favor these initiatives should find alternate sources of revenue that does not hinder the current school's ability to function properly.
Law Enforcement and Protection
No law abiding citizen should feel threatened by the men and women who have sworn to protect and serve their communities. We must continue to find ways to ensure mutual respect between our communities and our police. As a teacher, I have worked closely with local police officers and know them to be consummate professionals who have taken a solemn oath to defend us and maintain our safety. At the same time we should also find ways to lessen mass incarceration. An entire generation of young people have been jailed due to well-meaning but overzealous prosecutions. Private corporations are profiting from this needless misery. As your representative I will use our resources to prevent crime through mental health efforts and providing better schools where young men and women can receive a high quality education or learn a trade for future employment.
Healthy Economy Through A Cleaner Environment
Jacksonville’s one party establishment want us to believe that we must choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. They gain from this division, but we know that through smart decision making and innovation we can maintain both. Through proper investment Jacksonville can be a major innovator for green energy industries. Some of us can remember a time when Jacksonville had a fairly poor reputation because of corporations that put profits over each citizen’s right to clean air. We have made remarkable advancements through finding common ground and balancing industrial production with environmental necessities. Let’s continue on this path to a more prosperous and clean future.
One issue that has come up recently in our community is the dredging of the St. John’s River. Our river is the reason why Jacksonville exists in the first place. It was what attracted Alfred duPont to our city in the nearly a hundred years ago. Ever since it has been a major tourism draw along with our access to the beach. We still do not know about what the cost and the environmental impact of dredging would be of benefit to our community. There are deeper ports in the Caribbean, but none of them have a channel that is as accessible as ours, nor do any ports on the eastern seaboard have access to three major interstate highways as ours does. Jaxport will remain a vital entry and we can maintain the natural beauty of the St. John’s River so long as we keep this in mind.
Equal Protection Under The Law
No one should be discriminated in any way on the basis of their religion, skin color or sexual identity, all of us deserve equal protection under the laws of our great state and country. It cannot be more simple than that.
Common Sense Gun Rights
Law abiding citizens should have access to legal weapons for sport and protection, we must find ways to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those who want to do us harm. In Florida, a child is shot every 17 hours. These losses are all too preventable but only if we support our local police officers and get illegal firearms off our streets. Individuals who have been convicted of domestic violence should not have access to firearms. We should also close the gun show loophole which allows young children and criminals to obtain deadly weapons.
Most importantly we need to end the grip that the NRA has had on our community for an entire generation. As your state representative, I will be a proud recipient of an F rating from this special interest for refusing to allow them to write bills that thwart your will. What began in the thirties as a legitimate sportsmen’s organization has devolved into the fear-mongering arm of the establishment party machine. So much so, that all a local politician has to do is slap an NRA sticker on their website and never have to deal with the voting public again. The two heads of this lobbying group make well over a million dollars a year not because they protect people’s second amendment rights but because they turn us against one another and stop us from achieving common-sense, responsible gun ownership by lawful citizens.
Healthcare Drives Innovation and Productivity
No one, not the government nor our employers, has any right to restrict our access to basic health care needs. In the last few years Jacksonville has developed a robust healthcare industry and we should continue to support this and expand upon it where possible. One thing that we seem to forget is that healthcare is an infrastructure issue; a healthy citizenry is a productive citizenry. Access to quality healthcare will drive innovation. When we are not worried about our basic health and survival then we can realize our dream of going out on our own and opening up our own small or medium sized business. Safety and security through healthcare is vital to our continued success.
Freedom of Religion
Our freedom to practice our religion should not be informed in any way by the government. I look to God for strength and inspiration, not policy proposals. I am a firm believer in the separation of Church and state because I believe that our religious principles are far too sacred and far too profound to be sullied by our petty politics. The only role that government has in religion is to protect us from discrimination based on our sincerely held beliefs. Progressives are not anti-church... rather we are pro-church, pro-temple, pro-synagogue, pro-mosque. Personal religious expression is the hallmark of what truly makes America great. Anyone who does not recognize that should not hold office in our great state and our great country.