With District 47 Florida House Rep. Mike Miller leaving his seat to run for U.S. Congress, Republican Stockton Reeves and Democrat Anna Eskamani each are looking for your vote to send them to Tallahassee as the new representative.
Reeves, 54, is a Winter Park resident and defeated opponent Mikaela Nix in the primary election for the Republican nomination. Eskamani, 28, is an Orlando resident and defeated Lou Forges in the primary election for the Democratic nomination.
The early-voting period in Orange County runs through Sunday, Nov. 4. For more information about early voting, visit the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website at ocfelections.com.
1. Why are you running for House District 47?
Through my experience in public safety, housing and the arts, I see a great many opportunities and challenges for our community. I believe that this experience combined with my ability to work with people from different backgrounds gives me a distinct advantage. For example, I work with police chiefs, Sheriffs and fire chiefs every day and know that almost all departments need access to training to improve the delivery of services, reduce fatalities and better equip these first responders.
2. Describe three reasons why constituents should vote for you.
First it is my experience. Six years on the Winter Park Housing Authority, almost twenty years with the Maitland Art Center, six years on the state’s Firefighters Health, Safety and Training board and so much more. Second, all this community service has afforded me insight and an opportunity to work with a wide and diverse group of people and organizations that represents all of Central Florida. Lastly because in these positions I have worked successfully with people from every political party and ideology who represent every segment of our Central Florida community.
3. If elected, what will your priorities be in office?
First public safety and that means additional training opportunities for all of our first responders as well as using our design experience to help make schools safer. I would like for our students to have greater access to vocational training. Having served on the Housing Authority I want to work to increase workforce housing and help get more affordable housing in comprehensive plans and provide incentives for new developments to include this housing in their projects. Environment protection and introducing legislation that focuses on our lakes, rivers, springs and beaches and to ensure that we have access to clean safe potable water. Our firm designed the Florida Solar Energy Center and I want to see the center utilized more effectively in residential and commercial facility designs. Lastly accessibility. Holding open meetings with residents on different days of the week throughout the district so everyone will have an opportunity to be heard.
4. What is your stance on the Home Rule, and how should state and local governments function together?
Almost all of our clients are cities and counties and I have seen firsthand the impact of unfunded state mandates and regulation on local entities. I believe that the government that works best is the closest to the people which is local. I would like to see cities and counties regardless of size work together and share information and resources more effectively in areas like public safety, transportation, housing and environmental protection.
5. What are the biggest problems facing Florida public education, and how would you address them?
More opportunities for students to access vocational education training. Not every student will go to college but we need to have workplace opportunities for them. I toured a concrete block manufacturing operation where someone out of high school can make up to $60,000 a year. I also realize that not every student learns the same way and at the same pace of other students so creating opportunities where these students can learn at a pace that suits them is equally important.
6. Both you and your opponent have said the Sunshine State should lead the way for renewable solar energy. How is this accomplished?
Our firm designed the Florida Solar Energy Center and for the past 38 years almost all of our projects have been design to be energy, water and sewer efficient. We have a unique opportunity in Central Florida shared by no one else across the nation. We have UCF, the Space Center and the Solar Energy Center and we are a major transportation hub with rail, a port, major airports and highways. I want to bring these entities together to create a “silicon valley” for photovoltaic and renewable energy. Central Florida can and should be a world class leader in this field. It would create research, manufacturing and educational opportunities that would be an incalculable benefit to Central Florida.
7. How important are the arts to Florida, and why?
Arts bring opportunities, money and a diversity of culture that enhances our community’s appeal to residents, visitors. The arts play a crucial role in helping to lure businesses to Central Florida. Much has been made about the value of STEM education and I believe that this is one half of the equation with arts and humanities completing this cycle. Having served almost 20 years on the board at the Maitland Art Center including three terms as its Board Chair, I had an opportunity to work with many different art organizations across the region. I am both a proponent and defender of the arts.
Affordable and workforce housing are a critical concern and component to keeping and bringing talented people to Central Florida. Our city and county comprehensive plans need to include these housing types in new development and infill development. Reform to current state laws covering affordable housing is needed to encourage and reward those seeking to include and build this type of housing.