Editor's note: Candidates responses have not been edited for grammar and are presented as received.
City/town of residence: Orlando, FL
Family: spouse, children, etc. I have been married to my wonderful wife, Stephanie Portigliatti, for six years and we plan on having children very soon. Besides being my biggest supporter, she is a nurse in the field of dermatology and also works with me in the real estate sector.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science & Spanish, Master of Science in Business Administration, and Juris Doctor.
Qualifications: I believe what qualifies me the most for public service is my real-world business experience paired with my passion to serve and my understanding of government. Our region has had little to no representation in the last five years and I believe I'm best equipped to provide the representation we desperately need. I have already been endorsed by CFHLA - The Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, WOPA - West Orange Political Alliance, an affiliate of the West Orange Chamber, due to my extensive business experience, and by Florida Family Action, the most Pro-God, Pro-Life, Pro-Freedom organization in Florida, due to my proven conservative values.
In a crowded primary race, what are the key differences between you and your opponents?
First, I have the deepest roots in our community among all of my opponents. I have lived, worked and served in this community since 1999. Also, I have the most business experience, which will help turn our economy around and make Florida affordable again for all Floridians. From working in the family business at the age of 11, bussing tables on "Restaurant Row," to building and operating multiple businesses from the ground up, I truly understand the challenges that come with owning a business, making payroll, and providing for other families. Lastly, I have been previously vetted by my party and voters in our region when I was elected as the Republican nominee for House District 44 in 2020, winning the Republican Primary with 74% of votes (10,124) and garnering 47.6% of the votes (55,960) in the General Election against 16-year Democratic incumbent Rep. Geraldine Thompson.
What are the values and morals that have guided your life, and how will use them as District 45 representative?
As Pericles put it, I believe that what we leave behind is not engraved in stone monuments but woven into the lives of others. My objective in life is to fulfill my God-given potential while empowering others and uplifting my community. I firmly believe that I will hit the mark of my purpose in life if I’m given the opportunity to serve and give back to my community through public service. Once elected, I promise to serve with zeal, integrity, and conviction.
What are the three most pressing issues facing our state today, and how will you address them?
Making Florida affordable again and helping Florida families keep more of their hard-earned money. I will accomplish this by cutting government spending and taxes, reducing any unnecessary and burdensome regulations, and stopping this exorbitant inflation that is affecting all our families. We must also invest in our local economy by ensuring that our essential workers, such as police, firefighters, paramedics, nurses and teachers earn higher wages that are commensurate with the services they provide our community.
Ensuring that parents have the ultimate say over the health, welfare, and education of their children. I will accomplish this by expanding school choice, empowering parents to have more control over what their children are being taught in the classroom and eliminating educational materials that indoctrinate our children.
Improve our quality of life through investments in infrastructure, such as road projects that reduce traffic, and cleaning up our waterways, springs, lakes and beaches. I will accomplish this by working on a collaborative effort with FDOT fast track state level traffic reduction projects and preventing overdevelopment in our region.
In recent weeks, District 45 voters have received several negative campaign flyers about candidates in this race. What is your opinion on this campaign tactic?
Unfortunately, some of my opponents have engaged in extremely dishonest and cruel attacks against me in an effort to bring me down. They have shown no regard for the truth or professionalism throughout this political process. However, I trust that the voters of District 45 will do their research and not be deceived.
What is your plan to foster communication with District 45 constituents?
Once elected, I will create commissions on the different areas that affect us all as a community the most, such as Economic Opportunity, Education, Infrastructure, Health Care & Human Services, Hospitality & Tourism, and Affordable Housing. These commissions will be composed of key stakeholders who will act as liaisons to the constituents of District 45 and will help disseminate information and bring forth suggestions or concerns from the constituents. I will also remain connected directly with the voters, providing them my cellphone number so that they can speak with me directly as I have done with hundreds of voters who have already called me throughout this race.
As District 45 representative, describe how you will work across the aisle.
Our District is one of the most demographically diverse ones in the State of Florida, with approximately one third of the constituency identifying as Republicans, another third as Democrats, and another third as Independents. What our district needs the most is effective representation, and not someone who will advocate only for their own interests. I will rely on my conservative principles and the needs of our community to make decisions but will also use my business experience, leadership skills, and my ability to build bridges to work with all legislators, irrespective of party affiliation, to ensure we bring common sense solutions to problems that are affecting all Floridians.
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?
I definitely support HB 1557 – the Parental Rights in Education bill, which empowers parents to have more control over what their children are being taught in the classroom. I strongly oppose the indoctrination of our children with radical and dangerous ideas.
I also believe that for our State to be nationally and globally competitive, we must increase wages and benefits for teachers and provide bonuses to high performing teachers so that we can attract and maintain the very best ones here.
Lastly, we must promote state led initiatives to improve K-12 education to ensure that students are properly prepared to enter college or vocational school, and ultimately the workforce. To solve the skills gap problem, we must promote STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics education and place a greater emphasis on vocational-technical programs.
What is your opinion on the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District?
The Reedy Creek Improvement District had the authority of a governmental body but was not subjected to the same constraints of a governmental body. Governor DeSantis did what he had to do to protect the State of Florida. I stood by his decision then and will stand by it again once elected.
If elected, what would you like to have accomplished after your first term as District 45 representative?
Improve our quality of life by decreasing the cost of living and helping Floridians keep more of their hard-earned money.
Promote affordable housing programs to ensure that Floridians can afford to buy a home without having to commute such long distances to and from work.
Increase vocational-technical programs to meet the demands of the labor market, and bring more manufacturing jobs to Florida, thereby improving America’s supply chains and driving down the costs of goods and services to consumers.