The forum included a wide range of topics, such as offshore drilling and impact of weather on poverty stricken areas.
While rain fell sideways outside of Bush Auditorium on the campus of Rollins College, inside, local candidates discussed issues caused by weather — particularly the issue of sea-level rise.
As a part of a statewide initiative by nonprofits First Street Foundation and Rethink Energy Florida, candidates competing in the upcoming election took a few hours to debate environmental issues as a part of a Tidal Town Hall Thursday, Aug. 9, at Rollins College.
Kicking off the night’s first panel were candidates running for Orange County Commission District 3: Pete Crotty, Bobby Lance, Bill Moore, Eric Rollings, Mayra Uribe and Randy Whiting.
Each candidate was given one minute to give their thoughts on questions from both the moderator and the audience.
One of the earliest questions asked was basic, yet complex: “What role should Orange County play in community education on sea-level rise? And is there an education program that you would champion?”
Whiting was first up to give his take on what exactly the county should do to educate residents.
“I agree that there are problems, and we have to face them, these are not local issues — the seas rising is a global issue,” Whiting said. “We are not going to take this on by ourselves; it’s not something Orange County is going to do. We need to be diligent with our own water runoff. We need to teach our youth so if they see something coming, they can prepare for it.”
Following Whiting’s comments, Uribe said she believed it is important the county be as active in education as possible.
“I believe that it all starts locally,” Uribe said. “I have sat with waste management and … unfortunately in the minority communities was where we suffered the most, because they’re not educated on waste management. We can’t fix the big problem right now. We start with the little steps, which starts at the county level.”
For the night’s second forum, State House District 30 candidates Clark Anderson and Joy Goff-Marcil were joined by State House District 47 candidate Stockton Reeves to discuss many of the same issues.
An early question hit on the topic of using tax dollars on research and prevention.
“What’s interesting about that is the public already approved taxes for the environment — they passed Amendment 1 and then the Legislature would not fund the trust that was brought by the people,” Goff-Marcil said. “I have found in my studying of this issue, it’s that people are willing to be taxed and not fight it.”
Reeves said he believed communications between water-management agencies is key.
“We have (five) water management districts throughout the state of Florida that don’t necessarily coordinate with each other any given day of the week,” he said.
As the night continued candidates sounded off in what was a friendly discussion, full of commonalities between each person.
“Florida needs to work together — every one of us has to face climate change,” Anderson said.