- August 15, 2017
ORANGE COUNTY – Eduardo “Eddy” Dominguez is officially the Orange County Democrat Party’s new nominee of choice for the House District 44 special election.
Dominguez, a senior executive at human resources firm Resource Employment Solutions, replaces the former HD 44 Democrat candidate, Paul Chandler, who withdrew from the race Sept. 8.
Dominguez, a Harvard graduate, now will face Republican Robert “Bobby” Olszewski in the Oct. 10 special election. But Chandler did not withdraw before the deadline to send out military and overseas ballots, so all ballots will have Chandler’s name on it. All votes for Chandler will automatically count for Dominguez, including all the early votes already casted for Chandler via vote-by-mail ballots.
To inform voters of the recent development, Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles will mail postcards to the district’s registered voters with an explanation.
Orange County Democrat Chairman Wes Hodge said signs also will be erected at all early voting booths and election-day polling locations notifying voters of the change.
“It certainly makes things quite complicated for our voters, but our message is going to be that we have a candidate that represents our democratic values and that’s who they should support,” Hodge said.
When asked if he believes introducing a new Democrat candidate this late in the race creates a disadvantage for Dominguez, Hodge said the party just plans to move on and focus on the coming election.
“I don’t really want to focus on what happened in the past,” Hodge said. “I mean, there’s nothing we can do to change it. It is what it is. Chandler had complete control of the situation and this is where he left us, but we will do our best to make sure that our Democrats know the election is happening Oct. 10 and they have a democratic choice to represent them in Tallahassee.”
What differentiates you from your opponent?
Make no mistake; this is a referendum on the policies and priorities of Donald Trump, Rick Scott and Bobby "O" – my opponent in this race. And this is an opportunity to stand up for the values that my family and I share with the people in District 44. I should be elected because for far too long the people in District 44 have been ignored by our representatives. Donald Trump, Rick Scott and my opponent embrace a political culture where it is acceptable to smile and make promises to their constituents, and then betray and ignore their constituents after lobbyists whisper in their ear and hand them a check. This practice is outrageous and unacceptable. I reject it, I will call it out, and I will fight every day for my neighbors and constituents in District 44.
What do you view as the three most pressing issues facing District 44, and what do you propose to do about it?
There are three key issues I would initially focus on that directly impact the majority of constituents in our district – issues which I affectionately call the three E’s: Economic security, Education and Environment. As a graduate with honors from Harvard College in Government and Economics, and a successful businessman of twenty years, I will fight for employee wages and benefits. Paying workers fairly creates loyalty, raises productivity savings and helps businesses thrive. With two children in Orange County Public Schools, I will fight to fully invest in public education, reduce class sizes, provide enrichment activities, and raise school resources to pay teachers fairly. I will stand up to the devastation to our lakes, forests, and wildlife caused by out-of-control urban sprawl. I will fight for you, for your land and for environmental conservation, NOT for big developers and power companies.
According to some elected officials, an alarming number of state bills that threaten home rule were proposed this past legislative session. What are your thoughts on home rule?
As a candidate and constituent of House District 44, I am staunchly in favor of home rule. Public welfare demands that the state and federal government return to the fundamental principles of free popular government, based on both home rule and individual liberty. It has never been more urgent than now, when the tendency to centralize all power at the federal level has become a menace to the rights of local governments.
What are your suggestions on how to best regulate the medical marijuana industry?
The regulation of the medical marijuana industry is a hugely contested issue that boils down to two main concerns: patients’ access to their medication and whether cities and counties regulate the location and operation of dispensaries. My suggestion would be to prioritize the three essential goals of medical marijuana regulation: keeping cannabis out of the hands of minors, reducing harm to users, and preventing collateral harm to the public.
What would you advise to improve the education system?
In the business world, when there is an under-performing division or product line, smart management does not decrease funding and reroute resources. Rather, they increase focus on the problem, create a corrective action plan, and then invest in solutions that will make a difference. That means we must focus at a local level on our public school problems by listening to teachers, parents and children. We must invest the money to fully fund public schools. We must reduce our classroom sizes, identify students with the desire and aptitude to pursue vocational arts programs, develop robust internship programs, implement full and varied after-school programs, guarantee nutritious meals during the school day and pay our teachers fairly. There is both a profound moral imperative and an economic case to provide this quality of education to our children. One of my chief priorities as your representative in Tallahassee will be to make sure all of our children have an equal opportunity to attend world-class schools – from preschool through college and beyond.
What would you do to strengthen Florida’s tourism economy and create more well-paid jobs?
Strengthening Florida’s tourism economy starts with the understanding that protecting workers' rights and helping businesses grow and become more profitable are not mutually exclusive goals. Both of these goals are attained when companies recognize that employees are their most valuable asset. Moreover, employees who have reasonable benefit plans also have money with which to invest in their children’s secondary education, can financially provide for themselves in retirement, and have access to medical care and nursing care which allows them to have meaningful and dignified lives as they grow older. I also believe District 44 can be a hub for well-paid jobs in the clean energy sector. Solar energy is a “triple-win.” It can dramatically lower our monthly power bills, and it is vital for our environment. And solar has the potential to bring hundreds–if not thousands–of high-paying jobs. I will be District 44's warrior for strengthening the economy, creating high-paying jobs and promoting high wages and benefits to our workers.
Why do you want to be a state representative?
Serving in public office has always been a dream of mine, and a goal I’ve aspired to for many decades. But the final catalyst that convinced me that the time had come for me to run for state representative happened not more than a month ago while I sat in the executive board meeting for the Boy Scouts of America. We were trying to make sense of the terrible news that our Learning for Life program – which meets a state legal requirement for providing an ethics and morality education at our schools – had been completely defunded by the latest state budget cuts. One of our board members, an elected legislator, shared that the reason our funding had been cut was because the program did not have a recognizable name that included the Boy Scout label. Thus, it had been scratched off a list while many other less critical items remained intact. This is simultaneously appalling and infuriating to me. How could it be that decisions were being made about cutting educational program funding with no research into the programs themselves? At that moment, I realized our legislature needed someone who would put in the effort and hard work to make sure something like this could not happen again. There was obviously a need for lawmakers who could read a bill cover to cover in order to understand the real impacts and ensure that all consequences were properly weighed and mitigated. At a time like this, when ethical and moral education is in high-demand in our schools to counteract the negative influences and media pressures of our society, I felt a calling to stand up for our youth and make sure that never again would their education and their futures be crossed off a list without regard.
What are the three most important policy changes you would pursue if elected?
1) Donald Trump, Rick Scott and Bobby "O" believe in strangling employees’ wages and slashing employee benefits to increase corporate profits. They pretend that the wealthy beneficiaries of this scheme will somehow be motivated to “trickle down” their profits to the rest of us. The end result is misery for thousands who work hard every day and almost never have enough to pay their bills. It further results in tens of thousands of honest, hard-working people having to rely on governmental aid to meet their most basic needs. I have a different plan. I will use the best business practices I have learned throughout the past twenty years to promote legislation that rewards employers who pay fair wages and give their employees access to fundamental benefits. Employees treated fairly become more hard-working, loyal and productive. Such businesses save substantial costs due to reduced employee turnover, less over-time payroll expenses and lower retraining costs.
2) Trump, Scott and Olszweski also believe it is more important for charter-school profiteers to succeed than for public schools to thrive. Their scheme involves taking money and human resources from our public schools, imposing stricter testing requirements in these public schools, all while allowing classroom sizes to explode while placing higher demands on our teachers. The Trump/Scott/Bobby "O" scheme further cripples public education by cutting public school teachers' pay and after-school programs. I have a completely different philosophy, one based on compassion for our children, and successful business practices.
3) Trump, Scott and Olszweski believe that our precious forests, lakes, and ocean waterways can be trusted to the big developers, power companies, and industrialists who write their campaign checks. While dedicated scientists, biologists, and engineers warn us about climate change, loss of wildlife habitation, imperiled drinking water, and even the death of our oceans, they mock the very idea of these dangers. I will fight for environmental protection in District 44 and throughout Florida. From emergency preparedness to environmental advocacy – a whole new legislative vision is necessary – one that embraces the undeniable truth that our futures are inextricably intertwined with our planet. We must fully fund Amendment 1 for the purchase of conservation land, including the spring shed land in the Wekiva River Basin. We cannot allow the dangerous and unnecessary practice of fracking in our state. We must purchase the land south of Lake Okeechobee, revamp the Okeechobee reservoir system, and take all measures to insure we never again pump billions of algae into our coastal waters. Additionally, the power companies should not rule Florida energy policy. Floridians should be allowed to contract with third-party providers of energy, and every Floridian should be allowed and encouraged to convert to solar. We can either take the lead on clean energy or get left behind. On a related note, we must improve hurricane resources for at-risk members of our community. Senior centers should never go without back-up power sources during a hurricane. Our seniors dying in assisted-living centers during Hurricane Irma was heart-wrenching and utterly inexcusable. Beginning on day one, I will sponsor and support legislation requiring senior centers and assisted-living facilities to have reliable back-up power.