WHERE DO I STAND?
THE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Why are you running for Mayor?
I'm running to improve our quality of life, ensure equity, & to preserve our environment. Our elected officials put developer interests before people's needs & our environment. I am the only candidate that is refusing donations from developers, builders, and special interests. Voters have been shamefully ignored. This has most prominently been demonstrated by the incumbant via his vote to plow a toll road through Split Oak Forest to service developers-despite 86% voting to protect it as well as ignoring the Orange County citizen mandated constitutional amendment for our right to clean water. I sued OC for urban sprawl. We won in court. Yet, OC did nothing to revamp policies to fix issues that impact our quality of life. People can't afford homes. Roads & mass transit are broken. Wetlands polluted. Wildlife's habitat destroyed. I'm a UCF tourism teacher/expert in socio economic development & Vice Chair, of Save Orange County. It's time to put my expertise to work for OC people & environment via policy reform.
How will you increase supply and quality of affordable housing, while
existing affordable housing?
There's no easy fix to OC's housing emergency. Our immediate issue is that there's an affordable housing shortage that's exasperated by low paying jobs. The lack of affordable housing has a host of negative effects on residents. Housing cost-burdened families experience greater stress relating to food security, health care, retirement, transportation & overall social stability. My solutions listed are only a few short/midterm strategies: 1) Declare a housing emergency & stabilize rents; 2) Create OC Affordable Housing Department; 3) Zoning reform/incentivize increased urban infill density; 4) Regulations to prevent slumlords; 5) Social Housing Program (European framework); 6) Community Land Trust Program; 7) Continuous performance evaluation & policy reform not preempted by state.
Our secondary issue that is lurking on the horizon is that people's property values have substantially increased. The ad valorem tax and millage rates if offset are concerning. People are going to begin to have issues paying their property taxes as the tax increases. We need to be proactive on this issue.
With respect to preemption & home rule, is the relationship of power between state & local FL govs addressing local issues?
No, the relationship & balance of power between state & local governments in FL is not appropriately addressing our local issues. We've observed state law invalidate: parts of OC’s comprehensive land use plan, banning of natural gas fracking/clean energy efforts, authority over our roadways, etc. The balance between county & state must be redefined to represent home rule. We elect officials based on our community needs. Our elected officials must be able to act in accordance with the needs of OC residents that they were elected to represent. To effectively correct state preemptions, OC must work with our local legislative delegation to repeal or amend laws that are negatively impacting our residents' quality of life.
How will you balance Orange County's tourist-based economy with the needs of its citizens?
As a UCF tourism & hospitality professor, I specialize in socio economic development & policy reform for tourism destinations with sensitive eco-systems. I'll ensure that the tourism industry contributes to OC residents’ quality of life & isn't a detriment to our community culture or abuser to our natural resources (e.g., water) & infrastructure system. Orlando is our country’s number one visited tourism destination. It's critical that we understand exactly how many tourists OC can host prior to an observation of degradation to our community & environment. It's time for our local tourist development tax to extend beyond benefitting businesses & facilitate opportunities for our people, community, and environment through policy reform.
I am a tourism and hospitality associate professor at UCF. One of my areas of specialty is socio economic policy reform for tourism destinations. We need to ensure that the benefits of tourism come back to our community.
What is your position on Orange County Animal Services & services for animals in need?
As a community activist for our quality of life, equity, and the environment my path has taught me that the most in need are those who are voiceless within our society. Orange County Animal Services, our pet rescues, and volunteers are working with constrained budgets and resources. The shelter is an open admission shelter. This means they take in all animals that are surrendered. The shelter facility is understaffed and outdated. In 2016, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners approved a new shelter facility. It is 2022. Six years later. The staff and the animals are still waiting. The dog kennel is still without a proper AC system. The building is too small to serve the needs of staff, volunteers, and animals. As mayor, I will ensure that OCAS is properly funded. I will ensure that we have programs to increase adoption rates and educational programs and outreach to help reduce the number of homeless animals. We need to support our rescues that work to help increase our adoptions. Additionally, we need to strive to make Orange County Animal Shelter a no kill shelter. This means that we will strive to end the Last Chance Animal - Euthanasia Lists. I do not support euthanizing animals who need a second chance at life. We can do better for Orange County Animal Services, rescues, volunteers, and the animals.
How can you make a difference in protecting Orange County's environment & address climate change?
I've begged OC to protect our environment, rural communities, natural land, wildlife, wetlands, & soil. I sued OC for urban sprawl for the negative impact it has on our lives & environment. We won in court. Yet, OC did nothing to revamp policies to prevent continued negative impacts of sprawl. My solutions listed are only a few short/midterm strategies: 1) Urban/rural boundary; 2) Save Split Oak Forest; 3) Guarantee right to clean water; 4) Reduce carbon footprint (mass transit/bike/walk/buy local program); 5) Clean energy commitment; 6) Urban infill mandate; 7) Storm water reform; 8) Retention pond reform; 9) Recycling/consumption/waste reform; 10) Native plant policy; 11) Continued fertilizer reform; 12) Septic tank reform; 13) Wildlife land conservation
How can you help stop LGBTQ+ discrimination in Orange County?
I believe to help stop LGBTQ+ discrimination in Orange County we must demand that our elected officials validate that the discrimination actually occurs. We need to generate solutions to combat discrimination that begin education. We need continued visibility of the LGBTQ+ community members. Our local government must facilitate active involvement & commitment with local businesses to help prevent employment discrimination against LGBTQ+. It is the job of elected officials to rise up our LGBTQ+ community's voices. People need to tell their stories, share their thoughts, & help set the agenda for ending this discrimination. Elected officials must help provide the platform for oppressed people's voices & for marginalized communities. We need action orientated solutions to ensure that Orange County is a safe zone for all our people.
Do you support the proposed transportation impact tax?
No, I don't support the proposed transportation tax. The proposed tax will increase our sales tax. We are observing the worst inflation in 40 years. Gas prices are soaring. Food prices escalating. Continued market uncertainties exist (e.g., Reedy Creek District & its impact to our taxes). Now is not the time to discuss raising our taxes. Our roads are broken & mass transit is behind because of the approval of developments that didn't pay for their impact on our infrastructure. The proposed sales tax increase will leave a fund for the BCC to determine which projects will be prioritized & funded. The BCC has proven they can't be trusted to adhere to the will of the voters on roadway infrastructure (e.g., toll road through Split Oak Forest). My solution relates to my expertise in socio economic policy reform for tourism destinations. We must restructure our tourist tax to extend to infrastructure improvements.
Do you support vaccine mandates?
No. Your Body = Your Choice. This said, we must all do our part. If you feel sick stay home, wash your hands, avoid touching face, avoid large crowds, wear a mask.