The most important part of my candidacy was taking the time to learn more about the issues that matter to you. These items transcend all party lines, and are key for the wellness of our local residents, families, and businesses. Here are some of the focus issues that I will address during my campaign and my time in office.
Restoring Transparency and Accountability
Many candidates and people in office believe that once they become elected, they are entitled to impose their own viewpoints, opinions, and choices upon the constituents they govern. They put themselves above the people, and ignore their feedback on the issues that matter to their communities. As a result, many people, especially those in unincorporated communities governed directly under the county, have become alienated by their local leadership. That is not the way it is supposed to work.
An elected official’s obligation is always to the people, to represent them and govern based upon what they want for their community, to ensure their rights are protected and voices heard. Through clear communication and transparency, I wish to ensure my constituency is always empowered with the information to guide me in making the best educated decisions for them, and that I and all those working alongside me would be accountable for these actions and choices. One key step I will take would be the restoration of the county Citizen’s Academy program, because you have a fundamental right to know and understand how your government works. I will make sure that every resident is represented and heard, from our largest cities to our smallest towns.
Protecting the Rural Boundary
Established by the will of the voting public, our county’s eastern rural boundary was set up with a two-fold purpose, to protect our environmentally-sensitive wilderness areas, and to ensure that rural residents could continue to live their chosen lifestyles without interference. These areas are presently undergoing attack from urban sprawl, and developers who do not respect the people who live there (i.e. River Cross). Furthermore the cost burdens that would be inflicted on taxpayers if the urban infrastructure was extended would be huge, not to mention the damaging effects on the natural drainage which would result in more widespread and severe flooding during big storms. I will ensure that any new development maintains consistency with the established comprehensive plan and remain a strong advocate for our environment and rural communities.
Competitive Wages for Public Servants
A recent study by WFTV Channel 9 found that Seminole County firefighters currently make anywhere between 10-25% less than our surrounding counties. When our resources and tax dollars are used to train these men and women, only for them to leave shortly afterwards to serve other counties, it costs us all in the end. To retain our highly qualified public safety officers, we have to make sure they are paid competitively and fairly. The same applies for our teachers and many other public servants. Our commissioners should not be giving themselves raises when at the same time we don’t have the resources to give to those who serve us.
The Safety of Our Children
While much effort has been made to better secure our schools, many parents throughout our county have come to me with concern about the proximity of their children’s school bus stops to potential predators, or how students waiting for buses or walking to school in the early morning are vulnerable in poorly lit areas. I am presently in the process of drafting an initiative to ensure that local children will be safer closer to home, with the goal that it will be a model for all cities and counties throughout the state to follow.
Leveling the Playing Field for Local Businesses
When our government gives “incentive packages” aka handouts of our tax dollars to big companies, not only does it take away from the resources that are supposed to serve the people, it also creates imbalance in our local economy. When one company receives an extra bonus, it gives them an advantage affecting other local businesses’ ability to naturally thrive and compete. It literally puts the government, not the free market, in the position where winners and losers are being chosen with our money. At the same time, the impact fee structure is so badly disproportionate that local startups are sometimes bankrupted before they are even able to get off the ground. I will implement reforms to reduce government interference in our local economy, ensuring that every local business has the equal and fair opportunity to succeed on its own merits.
Improving Fiscal Responsibility
Over the years, our county commission have developed a steady track record of either implementing or advocating for tax increases, often by making promises that the extra money would be dedicated for the benefit of particular areas or services. Every time however, some or all of those collected funds do not become appropriated or actually used for the stated purposes. Their only solution for these artificially created shortfalls is to keep raising our taxes again and again, year after year. Even right now, our county commissioners are attempting to push another burdensome tax hike onto your 2020 ballot, and after actually making a commitment to reduce taxes if Amendment 1 failed in 2018, they refused to fulfill their promise when it did! By making our government more fiscally efficient and proactive, as well as eliminating avenues of wasteful spending and pork projects such as the five million dollar “road to nowhere,” we can achieve everything we aim to achieve without the need for another tax increase.