As District 114’s Representative, I will fight for livable wages, accessible healthcare as a human right, and the American Dream for immigrants like my mother who make America stronger. I will prioritize the same issues that the people of my district prioritize:
Fight Rising Waters
Each time our community floods, the devastation threatens our health and the habitability of our homes. Incremental action isn’t enough. I will advance and support legislation that addresses the impact of sea-level rise and climate change.
Much of Florida’s infrastructure is lacking or outdated. Sewage treatment plants need upgrading to advanced wastewater treatment, sewage pipes are leaking and need replacing, and the Department of Health reports that 1 million septic tanks are failing and stormwater systems must be built to clean the polluted water running off our urban areas.
These issues don’t just threaten our environment but our tourism economy, too.
It does the public health no good to spend money solely on water quality at the source, when local septic systems, sewage treatment infrastructure and stormwater runoff have created a toxic soup by the time that water reaches the faucet.
We must re-allocate at least $400 million—only 0.43% of Florida’s entire budget—per year as 50% matching grants for cities and counties to upgrade water-quality infrastructure.
Support Community Safety
As a former U.S. Army infantry officer, I understand the intense training and respect required to responsibly fire weapons of war. That’s why I will support common-sense gun reform, including an assault weapons ban, to protect our schools and neighborhoods.
“Before you shoot, think about what you will hit if you miss.”
Those words have stuck with me since I was a young infantry officer in Germany. They were written on a firearms club pamphlet left in our recreation facility. They rung true then, so much so that I incorporated it into my unit’s training, and they still ring true today.
I am an Expert rifleman on the U.S. Army’s ratings scale. I know how to assemble, fire, clean, and store a firearm responsibly. But as I see gun violence spread throughout our country, I’m moved to step up and find solutions. Because we need leaders who will bring in all community stakeholders to make our streets safer.
Create Economic Opportunity
At an early age, my mother instilled in me the importance of education in accessing economic opportunity. These issues are intertwined, which is why I will fight to fix the broken charter school system, fund free public college for Floridians, and address the disastrous impact of the Republican 7-7-7 plan.
I will support education policies that help more Floridians participate in and benefit from our economic growth, including:
Fix Charter Schools
The lack of transparency in charter schools is beyond measure.
Right now in Florida, if you want to start a charter school, the application to do so doesn’t require a (1) business plan founded on basic principles of sound management; (2) any identification of experience in charter schools or even education in general; (3) disclosure of criminal records by those applying; (4) disclosure of failed business endeavors; or (4) disclosure of operating previously failed charter schools.
Accountability matters. Transparency matters, too. As Representative, I will support legislation that fixes the flaws in the charter school system, not just its funding.
Fund Free Public College for Floridians
The Florida Legislature has abandoned its commitment to fund post-secondary education. The result? Florida students and families are punished with substantial and unsustainable increases in tuition and fees, year after year.
I worked full time while attending law school at night. Not everyone has the time, inclination or luck to have that chance to change their circumstances. In office, I would support removing the waste and abuse in our $93 billion budget in favor of programs providing free college education for those that want it, including vocational programs and evening programs for students like me who study while working full time.
A benefit to the state would be to mandate that such assistance be tied to a number of years being employed in Florida or by a Florida entity.
Fight the Failed 7-7-7 Plan
In 2010, about 50% of Miami-Dade qualified as working poor, living month-to-month with limited assets and constrained income. Now about 60% of Miami-Dade meets that threshold.
This has happened because of the 7-7-7 plan of then candidate for Governor and now Senator Rick Scott. His plans, adopted with the enthusiastic aid of the Republican-led legislature, has made our community poorer.
When I’m in office, I will fight to fix the failures of this policy and aggressively advocate for new initiatives to help our brothers and sisters stand up.
I am proud to be endorsed by VoteVets and as Representative, I will partner with local, state, and national stakeholders to ensure we fulfill our obligations to those who’ve served in uniform and pass a Veterans’ Bill of Rights.
A Veterans’ Bill of Rights will, among other things: (1) provide assistance to veteran-owned businesses; (2) ensure recognition of military training in education and licensing; (3) award college credit for related military training; (4) ensure the needs of veterans and their families are incorporated in all efforts to expand access to affordable, quality healthcare; and (5) ensure veterans and their families have access to the full range of housing options available.
In the United States, only 13 states have introduced a Veterans’ Bill of Rights. Veterans deserve better. It will only take a set of simple changes and cost-effective tools to make a dramatic difference, from leveraging veterans’ unique experience and training to propel them toward jobs, to proven programs that help with re-entry to civilian life, to services that make it easier for vets to access high quality healthcare and secure housing.
Speed Covid-19 Recovery
COVID-19 has made it clear that we must fix the unemployment system nightmare created by former Governor Rick Scott. That’s why I will fight to expand unemployment benefits to 26 weeks from 12; process applications in a reasonable timeframe; and require payment within 30 days of processing. The current governor’s continued inaction during this crisis makes these measures mandatory. Without leadership, Floridians will likely continue to wear masks, socially distance, and suffer the economic impact of COVID-19 well into 2021.
Since March 15, 2020, over 2.3 million unique jobless claims have been met by a seemingly never-ending busy signal, inconsistent instructions and a governor who blames the unemployed themselves.
It’s been 10 years since former Governor Rick Scott proposed his now infamous 7-7-7 plan and nine years since he signed HB 7005, the bill that created our current unemployment system, into law.
At the time, 50% of Miami-Dade county qualified as working poor. But over the next few years, a Republican-controlled legislature happily passed one bad bill after another. After a decade, we know the truth: Not only did that plan fail to bring jobs to Florida, the plan was so ineffectual that now 60% of Miami-Dade county qualifies as working poor.
On 7/23/2020, I participated in the South Dade Democratic Caucus – Ron Brown Chapter’s candidate forum, providing views on additional topics. To learn more, please cut and past the following URL into your browser : https://youtu.be/DZwf5YqYrXs?t=2675