Editor's note: Candidates responses have not been edited for grammar and are presented as received.
City/town of residence: Orlando
Family: Son, 22 months
Education: Florida A&M University
Qualifications: I have spent my career in public service, starting as a legislative aide and working my way up through the process. I was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016 and re-elected in 2018 and 2020. I am currently House Democratic Leader Pro Tempore, Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, and the Democratic Ranking Member of the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee
What are the key differences between you and your opponent?
My opponent and I have many years of service in the legislature and we each have a strong track record of affecting positive change in our communities. While we have much to agree on from a policy perspective, we differ in our approach to today’s politics. I believe in the power and importance of relationship building, and working to find common ground. It’s how I, unlike my opponent, have become very effective in the current Legislature. I have a consistent track record of delivering for my community over the past 6 years. It is so important to speak up and speak out about the critical issues facing our communities and our entire state, and to have a seat at the table. We may agree to disagree, but the discourse along with the relationships built throughout that process are crucial.
What are the values and morals that have guided your life and how will you use them as District 15 senator?
The importance of service, hard work, and courage were instilled in me at a very early age, and they have been guiding principles throughout my life. As a state representative, I have embodied these values, speaking up and being a voice for my district and fighting to bring critical funding and resources home to my community.
What are the three most pressing issues facing our state today, and how will you address them?
Attainable housing, public education, jobs, and healthcare(couldn’t pick three) are some of the most pressing issues in this community and across the state. To improve our public education system, I plan to build upon the progress we’ve already made expanding the community school model. I will continuously work toward a fully funded public school system, paying our teachers what they deserve, and incentives to retain them as well as with more resources for our schools that help create talent pipelines for Florida’s workforce.
Quality education framework is critical to ensure our young people are aware of and prepared for the array of career opportunities, and can move forward prepared and unencumbered. In this way, education does not stop in the classroom - we must work toward providing more resources for job training programs and developing a more robust, diverse workforce.
I’m extremely proud of the extensive work I’ve done in the healthcare sphere, specifically with maternal health. I successfully expanded Medicaid benefits from 6 weeks to 12 months, and secured funding for a maternal health pilot and community-based education. I will continue the work I’ve been doing to reduce health inequities and disparities.
What is your plan to foster communication with District 15 constituents?
I have always operated with transparency and an open-door policy. Continued constituent and stakeholder outreach is key to ensure everyone’s voice is heard and effectively represented in Tallahassee. I will also continue to host townhall meetings, family events, workshops as well as build coalitions in my district as we continue making our community a better place to work, live, and raise a family.
As District 15 senator, describe how you will work across the aisle.
Relationship building is critical to the success of any endeavor, especially passing legislation and securing limited resources to bring back to the district. I will continue to prioritize finding common ground and maintaining positive rapport with fellow legislators. It is my firm belief that the most important work happens behind the scenes, and while the camera loves a grandstand and splashy shows of advocacy, I’m fully committed to digging in and doing the work on and off the House and Senate floor.
Recent state bills will have an effect on Florida’s public-education system and its curriculum. What is your position on some of these changes?
Our schools should be a safehaven and a learning hub for Florida’s children, and the recent legislation impacting our public education system represents a massive overreach of state government that I oppose. Our job as lawmakers are to make sure every child receives the quality education they deserve and need regardless of race, zip code, income, disability status, gender, or sexual orientation. Our future depends on it.
What is your opinion on the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District?
The dissolution of Reedy Creek is concerning for various reasons……They have environmental protection standards that are also higher than that of the state. They have done an amazing job of protecting precious natural resources, as well as creating higher standards in their building codes and there is no guarantee that the county governments will want to or be capable of continuing those standards. Reedy Creek also has more than 2,000 current construction contracts, and their loss or delay could hurt the livelihoods of an untold number of contract employees. Taking on Reedy Creek’s $1.1 billion debt could have repercussions for taxpayers and could possibly raise their property taxes if local governments cannot replicate Reedy Creek’s current revenue stream. The Governor is placing unduly burdens with unforeseen consequences on local governments, hundreds of Reedy Creek employees and first responders, taxpayers, and Floridians. It was unwise, impractical and unprecedented for a governor to pick this fight,and with disregard for the very real economic and environmental impacts this would have on the taxpayers. It is my hope that we as a legislature reverse this decision in November.
If elected, what would you like to have accomplished after your first term as District 15 senator?
Every Floridian deserves a safe and affordable place they can call home. I would like to have worked as a collective to put together a Housing plan that puts Florida on course to solve our state’s housing crisis with investments across the entire housing continuum. Also I would like to have created public private partnerships in my district to deal with our housing crisis. I would like to have funded the creation of youth programs in our smaller cities that don’t always have access to resources or programs for kids to learn and be exposed to future careers and opportunities..