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Sarasota Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 5 months ago

Florida House special election candidates share their views

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The three candidates in the District 72 special election give their perspectives on Florida's top issues and what they can do to help fix them.

Ahead of the District 72 Florida House of Representatives special election, the Observer asked the three candidates, Republican James Buchanan, Libertarian Alison Foxall and Democrat Margaret Good, to share their views on Florida's top issues and what they would do to make the state better.

James Buchanan

What do you consider the Florida House’s top issue relating to Sarasota County?

For me, the safety and security of citizens in Sarasota and Florida is the top issue in the Florida House. That’s why we must ban sanctuary cities, enforce our laws and ensure law enforcement continues to have the resources they need to do their job and keep criminals off our streets.

What are three things Florida does well? 

As a small business owner, I believe Governor Rick Scott’s job-creating policies have had a positive impact on our state. If elected, I’ll continue to champion legislation to keep taxes low which will allow companies to provide great paying jobs right here in Florida.

Additionally, Governor Scott’s recent declaration, alongside Secretary Ryan Zinke, to continue the moratorium on offshore oil drilling is a huge win for our state. Making sure oil drilling is banned off our cost is a priority of mine, as we must continue to keep our beaches pristine.

Lastly, my wife Lea and I are raising our daughter here in Sarasota and want our schools to be the best in the world. We’re blessed that Sarasota County is an A rated school district but we must continue to make sure every dollar spent in education directly benefits our students and our teachers in the classroom.

What are three things Florida needs to improve upon, and how would you be part of the solution?

The issues that I would address as your next legislator are lowering taxes and ensuring Florida stays affordable, upholding the law and enforcing immigration policy, and continuing to make sure Florida invests in our local infrastructure to combat crowded streets due to over development.

Alison Foxall

What are the Florida House’s top issues relating to Sarasota County? 

Traffic, water, development. All inter-related. If not resolved, our economy and lives will be affected by these issues. Warm sun and world-class beaches in Sarasota - coupled with the world-class cultural amenities - will not overshadow these issues if we do not address the fact that we’re heading toward a congested, diminished Sarasota. We’re no longer a sleepy little town.

What are three things Florida does well? 

Tourism, finance, professional and business services.

What are three things Florida needs to improve upon, and how would you be part of the solution?  

1) Jobs and the economy, less corporate welfare and a balanced budget are needed. A wide income disparity constrains economic opportunity, limits job creation, and increases poverty. We need to work on what we are good at. This requires a seamless coordination of the education, business, immigrant and technical communities. The participation rates of younger people are dropping. We need to learn why and fix this. Also, drugs are affecting this since the opioid crisis mainly hits younger people who have the lowest labor force participation rate. We need to reduce occupational licensing barriers to let people find work – as well as felons getting full rights restored.

2) Unacceptable high levels of violent crime, drug use, public corruption, identity theft, and fraud. Much of this is related to a failed ‘War on Drugs.'  Drugs should be decriminalized and treated as a public health matter. Portugal did this 17 years ago. Now its overdose death rate is three per million citizens. Florida is almost 250 per million, and the U.S. is slightly less than 200 per million. According to the 2017 Global Peace Index rankings, Portugal is the third most peaceful country. 'Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success,' says Glenn Greenwald, founder of the blogsite “The Intercept." We need a better method. After 47 years, the Drug War works . . . not!

3) Weak public education system. Sarasota County has a strong educational system; it does not represent Florida. According to “Education Weekly” Florida grades at a C- and ranks 28th in the U.S., which is below the national average in overall performance. In funding, it ranks Florida as D+, 38th out of 50. The “American Community Survey” ranks us 32nd, while "US News" puts it at 29th in educational performance, we're 43rd in economic opportunity due to the great income disparity. Is income a function of education level? Most studies show that to be true.

I am not beholden to the two parties. Bring good data and analysis to the problems. Cross party lines for a solution.

Margaret Good

What do you consider the Florida House’s top issue relating to Sarasota County?‚Äč 

Preserving and protecting our environment is integral to Sarasota County’s - and Florida’s - future. I will fight to ensure that our coastline does not fall prey to offshore drilling and work to protect the habitats of the wildlife that live on our shoreline. We must plan for climate change. Those that experienced Hurricane Irma this past summer know that we have a lot of work to do to prepare for the next big storm. We need short-term plans, like ensuring that our infrastructure and utilities can withstand a storm, ensuring we have adequate shelters and good evacuation routes. But, we also need to think long-term. We need to implement policies that reduce our carbon footprint and move toward renewable energy resources. 

What are three things Florida does well?

I am constantly in awe of the people I meet. From Florida natives, to residents who winter here, to recent immigrants who are making the United States their home, Florida is one of the most diverse states in the country. Last weekend, I knocked on a woman’s door and she invited me in. She and her family were hosting a citizenship party for her mother, who had just become and American. I felt so proud to be part of that celebration.  While Florida’s education system struggles, I know it is one thing that Florida could do well because I see what we do in Sarasota County. I am very proud of Sarasota County public schools. We have one of the best school districts in the state. I am impressed by the work the teachers, staff, and the school board does to make sure our children receive a quality education. I know that we can lead the state in figuring out how to become a national leader in education.

What are three things Florida needs to improve upon, and how would you be part of the solution?

The Florida legislature ignores the will of the people. Floridians have unequivocally voted for land preservation. The 2014 Land and Water Conservation Amendment requires our legislature to allocate funds to buy land for preservation. That amendment has not been implemented. Floridians want strong public education, yet the Tallahassee establishment continued to move towards privatizing our education system, funneling money to for-profit charter schools and into a voucher program that funds schools that are not held to any standards.  I will work to strengthen our public education. 2.5 million Floridians do not have access to affordable healthcare. We must change that.  I will fight to ensure that Floridians have access to healthcare and that our elderly residents and our children are provided the care they deserve.

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