As a new election cycle comes up in 2018, so arrive new faces onto the political scene.
With Florida House Rep. Mike Miller (R-Orlando) announcing recently that he would be running for Congress next year, his District 47 seat, which he has held since 2014, is becoming vacant.
Although it is still early in the process, so far the only competitor in the field currently is Anna Eskamani — a Democrat born and raised in Orlando.
Her announcement this week took place out on the steps of Orlando’s City Hall, where Eskamani rolled out her intentions to run for office — although the 27-year-old actually hadn’t planned to announce her entrance until August.
“I wasn’t actually planning on announcing this early, but I felt like it was the best choice for us — to get out there and have intelligent conversations with constituents, and business owners and so forth,” Eskamani said. “I’m excited that we started, and the enthusiasm and support has been humbling.”
Although new to the aspects of running for an elected seat, Eskamani has a long history of advocacy work and the desire to be a community leader, which dates back to when she was just a child.
Her first recollection of organizing came in elementary school, when at age 10 she collected petitions to keep one of her classmates from being moved into a different class. She lost that “campaign,” but it never stopped her from trying.
“… I am a progressive, and I hold those values very close to me, and I’m excited to find common ground with every type of constituent out there.”
— Anna Eskamani
Since those early days, Eskamani has continued to follow her passion through different means — both in the public sphere and academically. She currently serves as the senior director of public affairs and communications at Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, while she simultaneously works on her doctoral degree in public affairs at the University of Central Florida. She also received both of her bachelor’s degrees and master’s degree from the university.
Along with her current studies, Eskamani serves as an adjunct professor at the university and serves on multiple boards for different non-profit organizations.
“College is really where I started doing organizing in the community and just doing my best to empower those who often face so many challenges in trying to reach their fullest potential,” Eskamani said. “I commit my life to lifting up others and ensuring that everyone has equal opportunity.”
The idea for running for office came from a realization that after working for Planned Parenthood for five years and meeting legislators on behalf of the organization, it was time to act, she said.
Eskamani describes herself as an “unabashed Democrat and progressive” and said her platform will reflect the ideological concepts she believes in.
During her campaign, Eskamani said she would concentrate on six specific issues — gun safety, equality, economy and jobs, natural resources, public and higher education, and health care access.
Along with her current list of policies, Eskamani also is hoping to obtain input from the public on issues that affect them the most.
With Winter Park being an important part of District 47, Eskamani hopes if voted into office, she will get a chance to reach out to the community and local officials to take the city forward.
“Winter Park is such a gem in District 47 — it’s so beautiful and authentic, and I really do want to make sure that I meet with members of the community to really ensure that we maintain the heritage of Winter Park,” Eskamani said.
Alongside wanting to protect the history and tradition of Winter Park, Eskamani hopes to help in examining the issues the city faces — such as developments and traffic — while representing the interests of all the city’s constituents.
“I really want to be a part of those conversations,” Eskamani said. “While those issues are more city issues, I know legislators can work hand-in-hand to maintain the heritage of Hannibal Square and to ensure that all people in Winter Park — no matter where you come from, what your income is, what your story is — have a place at the table and are valued in the legislative process.”