Family: Two daughters, London and Brooklyn
Qualifications: Incumbent; business owner; served in Florida House of Representatives 2012 to 2016; serving in Florida Senate since 2016
Education: Bachelor’s degree in psychology, College of William and Mary; MBA and master’s degree in administration, University of Central Florida
Why do you want to represent District 11?
It has been an honor to represent District 11 for the past four years. I ran to work on fixing our criminal justice system, make sure we did all we could as a state to protect our environment, continue to work to improve our education system, and bring resources back to the district for the benefit of the people that live here. I’ve had a successful four years in the Senate, but those same values are what motivate me to continue my work in the Florida Senate.
This race features one candidate with a history in politics and another who is a newcomer. As the incumbent, why does your perspective make you a better candidate than your opponent?
I think my legislative experience allows me to serve this community better. I’ve worked well with Republicans and Democrats alike, and it’s why I've been able to pass eight substantive bills, bring tens of millions of dollars to the Central Florida area, chair a powerful committee — which is very unusual for a member in the minority committee — and so much more in the four years I’ve been elected to the Senate.
District 11 is a diverse area — both in issues and people. How would you ensure you are representing all constituents fairly?
I do it on a daily basis. I think a good example of this is how my office has handled the COVID-19 crises. We have helped thousands of people — in and out of my district — to access their unemployment when the system wasn’t accessible. It didn’t matter what a person’s political affiliation was; we did all we could to help. I consider the pulse of this district when filing legislation; we have resource events all over the district to make sure that we are accessible to the entire district. I am here to serve everyone.
You and your opponent differ on several key issues. What are the most significant differences between you and your opponent, and why?
No answer provided.
If you had a magic wand, what three issues for West Orange County would you change immediately?
I’d like to see a vibrant downtown corridor for the city of Ocoee. Many new residents have moved there, and I think they are looking forward to a downtown that accommodates the new growth. I also think we need to build the business corridor in Pine Hills and bring more jobs to that area.
Describe your view on police reform.
I was the first person to ask for a special session to address police reform, and I gave a 10-step proposal to address reform. To give an example, I asked that the police shootings should be investigated by independent agency to avoid a conflict of interest. I believe that these are common-sense reforms that should be adopted across the state.
What are the issues pertaining to education in District 11, and how should the state address them?
I think one of our biggest issues is teacher pay. I think we need to pay teachers adequately to continue to retain great teachers.
What changes, if any, would you make to Florida’s unemployment system?
I was also the first to call for a special session to address our unemployment system. First, there should be other ways people can access unemployment other than a website that doesn’t work properly. I also believe that the maximum amount a person can receive for unemployment should be raised. I also think the length of time a person can receive unemployment should be extended.
Describe your platform on health care.
I think we should consider expanding Medicaid to cover the poorest people. The federal government pays the overwhelming majority of the cost to care for those eligible. I also think we should look for ways to improve care and lower costs for people.
How would you address the continued economic impacts of COVID-19 on constituents and businesses operating in District 11?
My office is a resource for those affected by COVID-19. We have had events for free testing. We help people to continue to navigate the unemployment landscape. We hold free food distributions bi-weekly. And our office is a resource for businesses that are affected.