Read our exclusive Q&A with State Senator District 11 candidate Joshua Eli Adams.
Family: Wife, Amy; son and daughter
Qualifications: U.S. Marine who served in the Marine Corps infantry in Afghanistan; former state prosecutor; attorney and owner of The Adams Law Firm, P.A.
Education: Juris Doctor degree, Florida State University College of Law
Why do you want to represent District 11?
Florida Senate District 11 is a large district with a diverse population, but they have had few conservatives fighting for votes, and in the process educating voters and letting them know they have political options. When electoral seats go uncontested, the natural result is a drift to extremes. In the case of District 11 — without any center or center-right options — the incumbent has gone far left, well beyond the interests of most of the residents. District 11 has a lot of conservative residents and a lot of residents who I believe are naturally conservative but haven’t historically voted Republican. Those voters will never consider Republicans if they don't have candidates competing in races.
This race features one candidate with a history in politics and another who is a newcomer. As the challenger, why does your perspective make you a better candidate than your opponent?
I don’t think being a newcomer is necessarily a benefit in and of itself, but I believe I am a better representative of the people of District 11. The incumbent does have the fundraising advantage that comes with both incumbency and also the benefit of a district that has not been competitive for conservatives for some time. Beyond that, the incumbent has no real qualifications, and his views are in many areas destructive to residents who want to achieve the American dream. The incumbent has no meaningful job history or experience outside of winning elections in Democrat strongholds by convincing his constituents that are victims and that live in a systemically racist country. His policies generally provide little meaningful benefit but nearly always are meant to pander to those who view victim status as currency. All this despite himself growing up in a family of prosperous, well-educated people. I grew up one of five children to blue-collar parents who didn’t graduate from college. When I was 18, I enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps (pre-9/11). I chose to serve in the infantry and would go on to fight in Afghanistan. I put myself through college and law school and then worked as a prosecutor for Lawson Lamar, eventually going into private practice, where most of my practice is in representing indigent people accused of crimes.
District 11 is a diverse area — both in issues and people. How would you ensure you are representing all constituents fairly?
I care about issues that will make strong families and communities. The same principles apply to rich and poor, black, brown, and white. This is a major difference between the incumbent and me. He tells people that their problems are the society they live in. I tell people that my biggest problem is me. This lie is highly destructive. I care about values — not race, sex, culture or religion. I would use my platform to try to convince people that the right value system is the path to prosperity and to reject the currency of victimhood. It is a fact that in America: If you graduate from high school, learn a trade, get married before having children, stay married, work hard and steer clear of substance abuse, you will be able to achieve the traditional American middle-class ideal. Did you know that the amount of Africans who have immigrated to the U.S. dwarfs those who were ever enslaved, and that those immigrants typically do better than African Americans? How is that possible if systemic racism is the cause of the plight in the African-American community? Why do Indian, Chinese and Japanese immigrants do so well if we are a systemically racist society?
You and your opponent differ on several key issues. What are the most significant differences between you and your opponent, and why?
School choice is the No. 1 difference. The Democrat party’s opposition to school choice is indefensible and clearly a result of the influence of the teacher union lobby, who contribute large amounts of money to the Democrat party. Other major differences include minimum-wage increases which will end summer jobs for kids and increase atomization and decrease jobs across the board, but especially for young and older people and unskilled workers. Another issue is criminal-justice reform. While I do share some of his ideas, many of his ideas reflect his lack of real-world experience with the criminal-justice system. The first order of government is to protect the people, and this requires law and order enforced by a robust police force and a strong and active criminal-justice system.
If you had a magic wand, what three issues for West Orange County would you change immediately?
No. 1, increase school choice, including voucher systems that encourage church-based schools to educate pre-K through fifth grade, and increasing and encouraging charter schools. No. 2, give the community the tools they need — should they choose — to end chronic homelessness through comprehensive reform to what is currently typically referred to the Baker Act and Marchman Act, allowing local prosecutors to involuntarily commit those who are unable to care for themselves or represent a threat to the community. No. 3, bring more businesses and jobs.
Describe your view on police reform.
I believe that we should further limit qualified immunity for civil actions and require each agency to carry liability insurance for all individual law-enforcement agents. Other than my concerns with qualified immunity for civil actions, I reject that there are systemic issues of racism and abuse with law enforcement in America. I believe I share the view of the law-abiding residents of the most crime-affected areas — that we need more law enforcement, not less. In my experience, those who vilify law enforcement the most often have the least experience around real crime.
What are the issues pertaining to education in District 11, and how should the state address them?
Increase school choice, including voucher systems that encourage church-based schools to educate pre-K through fifth grade, and increasing and encouraging charter schools. I believe that we should restrict public unions from donating money to political organizations. I would like to see more alternative schools for students that are unable to thrive in traditional school environments, and in that would include more vocational program options that offer specialize degrees at the high-school level.
What changes, if any, would you make to Florida’s unemployment system?
The website was clearly bad. The system wasn’t designed to handle a crisis, which is when it is needed most. More resources are needed. I also support a tier system that would allow employees with longer employment history to qualify for a longer period of unemployment and higher rates. The goal is for people to not lose their homes/apartment, etc., when they become unemployed.
Describe your platform on health care.
A large portion of our society is provided free or nearly free health care, and that is rarely discussed — the poor, the elderly, veterans and the disabled. The rich can afford good health care. I am therefore primarily concerned for the working lower-middle and the middle class. There is no reason that this productive class of people is the only one without proper affordable health care. However, the total federal and state Medicaid spending for Florida during 2016 amounted to about $21.8 billion, and expanding it at our current coverage would bankrupt the state. I would support comprehensive health care legislation that provides truly basic coverage for all who want it, and would limit the remainder coverage. This basic coverage would be very limited, but would include maternity coverage. I support stat- backed insurance pools for people with rare diseases, high risks and pre-existing conditions.
How would you address the continued economic impacts of COVID-19 on constituents and businesses operating in District 11?
I reject that the continued economic impact is caused by COVID-19. The continued economic impact is caused primarily by the shutdown. I support a complete reopening of the state without government-imposed limits. I certainly encourage those with risk factors to take precautions.