"As a life- long resident of Florida, graduate of public schools in Pinellas County, a former Major League Baseball Player, small business owner, husband and father, I am well aware of the issues that working families face every day. I have had to make tough decisions in order to provide for my family while encouraging my children with the hopes of a brighter future. I want to work for you. We need to create more living wage jobs, improve our schools, build affordable housing, expand small/minority- and women-owned business opportunities, and make public safety — especially getting guns off the streets — a top priority. With over a decade of business experience, I know what it takes to find solutions, navigate the complicated governmental agencies and get things done."
LIST OF ISSUES
Public education is a critical element for our community if we are to ensure that opportunities for gainful and meaningful employment are established. My wife is a teacher, therefore I know firsthand the issues that teachers face and the hardships that the students face.
All children are capable of learning; it is incumbent upon us to provide an avenue for success. As such, I fully support the expansion of an emphasis on technical trades as early as elementary school and strengthening certification programs in middle and high school.
Additionally, teacher and support-staff salaries must be increased in order to attract and retain the best and brightest within our state. For far too long, Florida has ranked at the bottom of the scale when addressing pay equity and advancement.
An urgent housing crisis is engulfing our region. Costs of buying or renting a home have grown disproportionately in the Tampa Bay Area, with the price of single-family homes increasing by double-digits and rents jumping a record 24% in 2021. These price hikes mean hard-working residents could be facing the possibility of spending some 50% of their income just to have a place to live.
For a number of years my work has enabled me to focus on the rehabilitation and construction of affordable homes for sale and for rent within Pinellas County. That means I know there is a way for counties and municipalities to work with developers to solve this issue in a fair and equitable manner. Every individual and family has the right to attain their version of the American Dream and I plan to help Floridians reach that goal.
I pledge to work with the public transportation organizations like Pinellas SunCoast Transit Association (PSTA) and (TBARTA) to ensure that there is always a regional approach to providing public transportation. I will also introduce legislation that speaks to the longevity of transportation organizations to receive adequate funding to execute their purpose in serving residents in Florida.
One of the most cherished rights we have as Americans is to make our voices heard by voting. But access to that right has been under attack in Florida in recent years in ways that harken back to the Jim Crow era. Onerous measures have been enacted to dismantle forms of voting popular with and utilized by senior citizens, young people and minorities—including vote by mail and early voting. Restrictions have been placed on the right of former felons to vote. And now the governor is attempting to create an election investigation office. We must fight the good fight against this voter suppression. Because equal access to voting for all citizens in Florida is an essential part of ensuring that our democracy continues to thrive.
Small/minority- and women-owned businesses have been at the heart of many communities that have not enjoyed the benefits from an influx of corporations and growth into their areas. Within St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Manatee, residents have observed growth all around them, however, related opportunities, including financial support, are not afforded to them. When elected, I will put forth legislation that enhances the relationship and the tools afforded to small/minority- and women-owned businesses through Enterprise Florida.
Recently, several partners and I rescued a struggling restaurant and event hall in the heart of the Black community in St. Petersburg. Now known as "22 South Food Hall and Manhattan Casino," it implements an incubator shared-use style for restaurant entrepreneurs and has proven to be quite successful! It is this out-of-the-box thinking that will aide in the growth, development and sustainability of our small/minority- and women-owned businesses.
We can all agree that healthcare is a basic human right. But right now in Florida, there are people living in our communities without access to the care they need to survive and to thrive. Two of the populations who are overwhelmingly affected by these challenges? Senior citizens and women.
Between 2020 and 2045, we will see Florida residents who are 65-years-old and older potentially grow to 25.2 percent from 20.4 percent of the state’s total population. As it is, many of our seniors do not have equitable access to the services and support needed for proper ongoing elder care. We are suffering a critical shortage of health care workers. Women in Florida are being faced with an unprecedented attack on their ability to make their own healthcare decisions when it comes to their reproductive choices; choices that affect not only the well-being of women themselves but also of their families. We must confront these challenges by offering legislative measures that will allow all of our fellow Floridians the chance to live their best lives.
Climate change is real despite the many attempts to deny science. From the most recent spillage at Piney Point in Manatee and the additional gypsum stacks that have gone unattended, to the red tide issues surrounding those cities on the coastal peninsulas, Florida has a problem.
I look forward to working with The Sierra Club in pressing forward with the "Ready for 100" initiative. I am also committed to expanding programs that support replacing gas-powered automotive expenditures and machinery with electric. Additionally, expanding our efforts to ensure that rebates are available to homeowners for the introduction of solar energy to their homes will aide in clean air initiatives while saving taxpayer's money.