MEET THE CANDIDATES: Florida House District 45

West Orange and Southwest Orange voters will be asked to select their next representative for Florida District 45 — Democrat Allie Braswell or Republican Carolina Amesty.

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Next week, Florida voters will head to the polls for the 2022 midterm election. Locally, West Orange and Southwest Orange voters will be asked to select their next representative for Florida District 45 — Democrat Allie Braswell or Republican Carolina Amesty. 

We invited both candidates to participate in our Q&A. 

Amesty and her campaign did not respond to multiple phone calls, emails and social-media messages seeking participation. 

Here, we present Braswell’s unedited responses.

: 60
City/town of residence: Winter Garden
Family: Widowed father of seven
Education: bachelor’s degree in information technology (computer science); master’s degree in human resource management
Profession: Senior vice president — culture, diversity and inclusion
Qualifications: Independent sector and for-profit executive with more than 30 years of experience; diversity, equity and inclusion executive; credit union development educator; John C. Maxwell coach, speaker and trainer; author; master bridge builder; community servant

Why are you running for District 45?
I am running for office because I believe in helping others find their purpose and I see the potential in people from all walks of life. I was inspired to run for this office after my wife’s untimely death because she and I believed this district was a great place to live, raise our children and retire. Serving in this capacity will allow me to represent our local community and continue the work she and I have been dedicated to for over 15 years.

I believe we should invest in our public schools to ensure all children have equitable access to a quality education period. Having helped to launch two schools in our region, I want to ensure that we never leave any community behind. I am also running to ensure that all Floridians have access to financial services that promote financial well-being.

Lastly, as a Marine Veteran, I can tell you that it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or Republican. When we serve, we are Brothers, we are family and that's what I want for this community and our state. I want Central Florida to continue to be the friendliest place for military service members, veterans and their families.

What are the key differences between you and your opponent? 
I'm the true moderate, and balanced leadership choice. I have the experience, integrity and commitment to stand up and fight for what's right for all families in HD 45. Leadership experience in engaging with our community as a whole, not just select areas; building diverse relationships with community and business leaders across the state and country without bias.

I have experience as an advocate on issues that impact the lives of people such as helping homeowners retain their homes after the last housing challenge that our country and state faced in 2008. My military experience has prepared me well to serve in leadership for HD 45. Inspiring and leading Marines toward a common goal has well equipped to work across the aisle to move Florida forward. My personal experience in triumphantly overcoming the challenges of life, have provided an understanding of what many families face on a daily basis, and I will take those experiences with me as I fight for our district.

Lastly, I am also a small business owner that will advocate for small businesses in the legislature.

I believe our qualifications are easily defined and vastly different.

Evaluate the work done by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature from the onset of COVID-19 to now.
I believe the Governor and the legislature performed adequately in their handling of the pandemic and could have done a better job of partnering with local leadership. The leadership style of the Governor is lacking in many ways. His autocratic style did not promote an opportunity to work well with federal disease experts, state legislators and local government officials that differ in opinion with him. This was very challenging during the most critical time in world history.

Forcing schools to reopen without any guidance on how to protect children and the educators who teach them. Withholding school funding when school board leadership is not in agreement with the Governor is manipulative and classic behavior seen most commonly in abusive relationships. More than 600,000 Floridians died as a result of the lack of leadership in supporting medical and public health experts’ recommendations of best practices.

I applaud the local Orange County leadership who took the necessary precautions to protect life while balancing the economy. These leaders’ performances demonstrated empathy, compassion and the willingness to make tough decisions that saved lives and slowed the spread of COVID 19 in the region. This ultimately led to a sustained path of recovery.

To make fun of and diminish the actions of a renowned scientist into a joke and then benefit from the sales of political paraphernalia is disheartening to the survivors and belittling to those who lost their lives during the pandemic.

Going after corporations and publicly elected officials who differ in opinion sets a precedent that could have detrimental consequences on Floridians across all sectors. Using people’s lives to play politics is harmful and unhumanitarian. All of this behavior provides embers for what we see playing out across the country.

Property insurance continues to be a primary concern for every homeowner in Florida. You have agreed this is a crisis in our state. What is the path to a long-term solution?
Like most homeowners, the high costs and unreliability of property insurance are of great concern to me. As we are still in hurricane season, many homeowners fear the cancellation of their insurance coverage and the inability to file a claim due to the company no longer serving the state of Florida.

On two occasions last year, the current legislature met to resolve this issue and did not adequately address these concerns. Despite having a special session to address property insurance during the pandemic, we are still facing issues with this. This is a systemic problem that the current legislature had an opportunity to create and implement effective solutions.

Within my first six months, I would move that we convene a committee to explore solutions for lowering costs, while incentivizing companies to remain in Florida. The past legislative sessions bestowed $2B upon the insurance companies, but they did not require companies to pass this on to consumers through lower rates. We need to address this immediately.

The potential dismantling of the Reedy Creek Improvement District continues to be a cloudy issue. What would be your solution that would be fair to all entities involved?
The RCID functions very well and should be allowed to remain in place as is. If there are opportunities to improve its functionality, then the legislature should work with the district to do that.

Your personal view on abortion differs from the state’s current 15-week limitation. Do you plan to address this issue in office?
Yes, I will address this issue once in office. I will support the passage of any state law that would codify access to contraception and abortion, protect reproductive freedom and ensures a woman’s right to choose how and when she receives health care. Women must maintain the right to make personal health care decisions and control of their bodies.

Teacher shortages continue to be an issue within the state’s education system. Recently, the state launched the Military Veterans Certification Pathway to encourage military veterans to enter the classroom. Evaluate this program and also discuss additional measures you believe will attract teachers to enter the Florida education system.
There will never be enough military veterans to replace the thousands of highly qualified and talented teachers who are leaving our school districts every semester. These veteran teachers are not leaving because they don’t love the work and children they pour into on a daily basis.

They’re leaving because, under the current state administration, they don’t feel respected, safe or supported.

If military veterans are not properly prepared to exit military life and into the classroom to handle the myriad of social-emotional, behavioral, academic and parental experiences veteran teachers face on a daily basis, then this path for military veterans may increase the lack of stability for students by leaving themselves.

The solutions should focus on understanding and correcting the reasons why our talented teachers are leaving the field of education altogether. We also need to adequately pay our teachers and develop incentives and rewards that help to attract and retain career educators.

Lastly, proposing legislation to encourage retired educators to return to the classroom while protecting their retirement benefits would provide an experienced pool of talent for schools across the state.

Should topics such as gender identity and sexual orientation fit be discussed in the public education system? Why or why not?
Currently, Florida schools are not required to teach sex education. However, they are required to teach comprehensive health education that includes instruction on teenage pregnancy. Topics in the classroom should be age-appropriate and reflect the stories and individual identities found in schools and every school should be encouraged to provide a positive, safe and healthy space for development for any child regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Discuss solutions you would support to provide more access to affordable housing, particularly in District 45, where home prices and rents have increased substantially.
Affordable housing and financial well-being are the two most compelling issues that are impacting all Floridians. Housing costs have skyrocketed over the past 12 months driving uncertainty at all income levels. While the answer is a complex challenge, the legislature should seek to incentivize the development and availability of affordable housing.

The first thing we should do is to stop raiding the funding, the Sadowski Fund, that has been established to assist with making housing accessible to all Floridians. I support smart growth or controlled growth solutions to reducing and eliminating the negative impacts of urban sprawl.

Second, I would look to work with a bipartisan group of legislatures to sponsor legislation to develop incentives that encourage developers to invest in providing affordable, safe sustainable and energy efficient housing.

Second, I would look to work with a bipartisan group of legislatures to sponsor legislation to develop incentives that encourage developers to invest in providing affordable, safe sustainable and energy efficient housing.

State measures should emphasize financial incentives for developers to build more affordable housing, and to implement environmentally friendly practices to protect natural resources and ecosystems, restrict or limit multifamily building permits in areas that do not have the educational, employment, public transit, healthcare, and law enforcement systems to support significant increases in the community’s population.

Why is our country so divided, and is there a path to mutual understanding? If so, what is it?
It seems our regard for humanity is declining, and our ability to view each other as fellow humans is quickly unraveling the morale fiber that is America. I believe in the glass being half full, so I do believe that there is a path to building a more perfect union that embraces everyone.

It will require a willingness to accept that we are better together.

A path which we can all truly embrace as patriots who love this country, while sharing differences of opinion. The key is to strive to find the common ground and move past the current selfishness that has worked to divide our nation. America is still a great country and our mosaic of cultures makes us even better. We must move past the current culture wars and move toward the arc of justice for all Americans.

Do you have aspirations beyond the Florida Legislature? If so, what are they?
Right now, my focus is on representing House District 45 and delivering upon what our community needs. I can't predict the future, but I will always be open to doing what I can to protect our democracy by serving.



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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