Questions and answers with the candidates
Education: AA from Manatee Community College; BA from Eckerd College; JD from Loyola New Orleans School of Law
Family: Married to Dr. Coleman Pratt. Two children, ages 13 and 10, and four rescue dogs.
Previous political experience: This is the first time I have run for office, but I have worked with state legislators on behalf of access to healthcare, and criminal justice reform.
Why are you running for the Florida House? I am running to protect Florida’s future. For too long special interests have controlled Tallahassee. People want common sense solutions for the challenges facing our environment, they want access to healthcare, an end to the epidemic of gun violence and proper funding for our public schools.
What’s an example of a bill you might file for the next session? I will introduce legislation that puts tax dollars back into public schools and not into the bank accounts of for-profit charter schools; I will introduce common sense gun control legislation that the vast majority of Floridians want; I will introduce legislation that bans workplace discrimination related to sexual orientation in both the private and public sector.
What’s the state’s responsibility in dealing with toxic algae blooms and red tide outbreaks? Our environment is our economy, and the environment is the top priority of my campaign. The state has a responsibility to prioritize clean water for its residents and to strengthen regulations on polluters. Proper water management is necessary for our economy, our health, and our quality of life. The state has already neglected its responsibility when it cut necessary environmental regulations and gutted the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, under current leadership. Proper environmental regulations are necessary to ensure that we prevent the toxic run-off that is related to the severity of harmful algae blooms. We must put environmental regulations back in place and then hold polluters accountable.
What would you do to work with a governor of another party? In a healthy democracy there must be a free exchange of ideas, and that requires working with people who come from a different perspective. I enjoy work that requires looking at things in a different way, and I am not afraid of having differences with the people I engage. That is why I have been hosting town halls at public libraries and inviting people across the political spectrum to come and bring their toughest questions and biggest concerns. I think it is time we brought civility back into politics, and I am certain that, with my leadership, the next governor and I will be able to work together to achieve great things for our state, regardless of party affiliations.
Is it possible to increase taxes to improve state services or teacher wages without harming Florida’s economy? There is no reason to increase taxes on working Floridians. We need to restructure the current budget and ensure that our corporate tax rate is competitive and comparable to our regional neighbors and can attract the right businesses to Florida. I support a graduated corporate income tax structure that lowers taxes for small businesses - which are the backbone of our economy - and encourages opportunity and innovation in a free market. I support a restructuring of our bloated prison system, with a reallocation of those funds to vital services, increased school funding, and teacher salaries.
Why are you better qualified to represent this district than your opponent? I am better qualified to represent this district than my opponent because I am fighting to represent the people of Florida, not special interests. This is a clear contrast to my opponent, who has accepted maximum donations from developers and corporate polluters, like Big Sugar, in the middle of the red tide epidemic. He is beholden to special interests like those who want to divert public funds to private for-profit charter schools which are not accountable to the taxpayers. Taking money out of public schools limits parents’ choice in educating their children, which is something we know Florida’s families want. I want what Floridians want - to protect Florida’s economy, secure common sense gun reform, and to have strong world-class public schools. Like most Floridians, I want to increase access to health care, and I want to build an environmentally sustainable economy that can flourish in the new millennium.