Candidate Q&A: Vennia Francois, Florida State Representative District 45 (REP)

Read our exclusive conversation with Vennia Francois, Republican candidate for Florida State Representative District 45.

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Editor's note: Candidates responses have not been edited for grammar and are presented as received.

Windermere, Florida 
Family: Single, no kids 
Education: Florida A&M College of Law, Lee University, University of Florida, Edgewater High School 
Qualifications: Private sector business attorney, former policy advisor to 2 Florida Republican U.S. Senators, intern to Florida Republican U.S. Representative John Mica 

In a crowded primary race, what are the key differences between you and your opponents? 
As the only candidate in this race with both private and public sector experience, I will be able to hit the ground running day one. In the private sector as a business transactions attorney, I see daily how the law can adversely impact business, the economy and private citizens. My goal is to limit those adverse effects. My public experience, such as my internship with former Transportation Chairman Congressman Mica, taught me what it takes to speed up road building and infrastructure projects. As a policy advisor to two former Florida Republican U.S. Senators, I learned the effectiveness of public-private partnerships, how to draft legislation that solved problems, and more importantly, how to spot and kill bad legislation. Legislators must be able to analyze legislation to ensure it does not result in more regulation or unintended consequences that could hamper the economy or infringe on individual and private property rights. When it comes to our elected officials, we could use a “government Hippocratic oath” that we first will do no harm! That will be my philosophy as our next State Representative. 

What are the values and morals that have guided your life, and how will use them as District 45 representative? 
I am the product of the American dream. My parents came as legal immigrants to pursue a new life in the “land of opportunity,” which is an American concept that is being distorted. America guarantees equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. That is also a value we must teach to future generations or run the risk of a government with far too much power. My parents also instilled in me the values of hard work, living by the rules, honoring God, and choosing a life of integrity as the way to success. Those are the guiding principles I have tried to live by personally and professionally. 
My faith is incredibly important to me as well. I believe our elected officials must be a good example to those around us. Operating by the “Golden Rule” of treating others the way we want to be treated is how we can “work across the aisle” to find solutions that improves life for our communities. Sometimes, that involves disagreeing and having to tell people what they may not want to hear. As the next State Representative of District 45, I will endeavor to conduct myself by all the above. 

What are the three most pressing issues facing our state today, and how will you address them? 
(1) The economy and the cost of living. While many things such as inflation resides more with the federal government, there are things we can do at the state level to make life a little more affordable. We must reform the insurance market to bring down the cost of homeownership. Temporary suspension of gas taxes would alleviate some pain at the pumps. Expanding our ports would help with the supply chain and thus bring down the cost of goods, while also creating more jobs in the future. It will take a lot to protect families from this Washington-induced economy. 

(2) Traffic congestion and transportation infrastructure. Spending time in traffic does not add to our quality of life. It means less time enjoying our families and free time. As a commuter myself, I am reminded daily that we must find solutions to improve traffic conditions in West Orange County. 

(3) Child safety and human trafficking. Tragically, Florida is in the top three in the U.S. for human trafficking cases. This cannot be ignored. America’s southern border must be secured. We must continually educate our children and bring together law enforcement, DOT and our communities to bring awareness. Human trafficking, drug use and the fentanyl invasion are all interrelated. 

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? 
Sadly, negative campaigning seems to work. The Washington style attack ads fill our mailboxes, iPhones, and laptops. The ones against me have been ridiculously wrong, claiming I failed voting for our President in 2016. Besides the fact that the voting booth is supposed to be private and sacred, my opponents did not bother to check that I was registered that year in Virginia. In 2016, I resided and voted in Virginia while working in DC. Another took my words 100% out of context. I was speaking to a group of women who were alums from Historically Black Colleges & Universities. I told the women it was ok to disagree with their party. The attack ad completely twisted my words to mean the opposite. My advice to the voters, call the candidates and ask if it’s true. If you learn its false or inexcusably misleading, vote against the candidate who is promoting it. 

What is your plan to foster communication with District 45 constituents? 
Constituent services will be a top priority. In my previous job, I was tasked at times with helping constituents with serious issues and navigating the maze of government. My plan is to bring the government to the citizens as much as possible by using many of the modern communications options, from emails to online meetings to social media. I also plan to host and regularly attend community events throughout the district. Being accessible will be a priority. The district office will be a place of accessibility for all. 

As District 45 representative, describe how you will work across the aisle. 
I’ve had a couple of great mentors in the public and private sector, including Republican Congressman John Mica. He secured the Ultimate I-4 expansion because of bi-partisan work. While there are certain issues where the two parties vehemently disagree, there are others where we must protect against partisanship hijacking the conversation. There are no such things as “partisan potholes” in our streets. For the others, bi-partisan leadership requires listening, showing respect for others and using effective persuasion. It also requires doing one’s homework and knowing the rules before entering the room. 

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 believe the Governor and the legislature made the right decision. Parental rights must be respected and protected by our school districts. I also support recent plans that have expanded parental choice in education. There are no one-size fits all solution for educating Florida’s children. Some have special needs, while others are advanced. Educational options should not be reserved only for the wealthy. Education is often the key to escaping generational poverty. Empowering those parents with the ability to choose the best educational path for their children is one way we can change the future for that child. 

What is your opinion on the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District? 
First, let me say that I believe we will find a long-term solution that will benefit the citizens of Central Florida, protect taxpayers, and protect the rights of private businesses. That would be my goal at least. In turn, this is also a lesson that companies have a right to insert themselves into political policy making. But they also must be prepared for the repercussions, especially when it comes to the rights of parents and the education of their children. 

If elected, what would you like to have accomplished after your first term as District 45 representative? 
My overall goal after one term would be able to report that we increased the standard of living and fought inflation by bringing down the cost of living for Floridians in multiple small ways, such as reforming insurance, decreasing the cost of college tuition for certain majors, achieving relief at the pump, and reforming the state’s vocational licensing to make access to higher paying jobs a little bit easier. I also hope to secure road and transportation improvements that West Orange desperately needs. 



Michael Eng

As a child, Editor and Publisher Michael Eng collected front pages of the Kansas City Star during Operation Desert Storm, so it was a foregone conclusion that he would pursue a career in journalism. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Missouri — Columbia School of Journalism. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his wife and three children, or playing drums around town. He’s also a sucker for dad jokes.

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