Bob on the Issues
Florida is an attractive place to do business because of its climate, its location, and above all, its people. However, despite the gains our economy has made since the Great Recession of 2008, life still isn’t getting better for the majority of our workforce. One of the biggest reasons for this is that the legislature currently rewards companies with millions of dollars’ worth of corporate welfare for creating low wage jobs that offer no benefits or job security — paying for it by cutting programs that directly benefit everyday people. The resulting economic instability hurts families and limits the productivity of our workforce. We need policies, like raising the minimum wage and reforming worker’s compensation, that solve long-term problems, improve the productivity of our workforce, and increase the security and stability of workers and their families. When our families are strong and our workers are protected, they will work more efficiently and have more money to spend helping our economy grow even faster.
I know that climate change is not only real, it is one of the biggest and most urgent problems facing Florida. Sea level rise threatens to destroy the Florida economy as well as our coastal communities. It is absolutely critical that we act now to reduce carbon emissions, invest in renewable energy, and find other ways to reduce our impact on the planet before it is too late. We need to change the law to reward homeowners and businesses that invest in solar power — one of our greatest resources here in the sunshine state — to increase our energy independence and limit our reliance on old, dirty forms of energy that compromise our national security and hurt our planet. Fracking is a dangerous practice that should be banned. We need to protect the open areas and nature preserves that make Florida such a beautiful place to live and play so that they may be enjoyed by future generations. Especially here in Polk County, we also need to maintain the cleanliness and health of our lakes, which are such an important part of our local environment and economy. We can do all of this by investing in new technologies and infrastructure which will have the added effects of helping to create jobs, grow our economy, and make Florida an even better place to live.
My years as a family and domestic violence court judge made it clear to me that domestic violence, rape, and pay equity continue to be huge issues that disproportionately affect women and negatively affect our families. We must do more to address these issues to ensure that all women are treated with respect, protected from violence, and afforded opportunities for equal pay for equal work. For years, I have been a leading voice across the state on rape kit testing, access to contraception, child custody, domestic violence, and alimony. When I am elected, I will continue and expand on these efforts to protect women, advance their opportunities as leaders in business and government, and preserve their right to make decisions about their health without interference from the government.
We’ve made great strides in recent years toward becoming a more loving and accepting society, including honoring the constitutional right of gay and lesbian Americans to marry, but as long as you can be married on Saturday and fired on Monday, we still have a long way to go to achieve true equality. Florida has always been a diverse state and it’s time for us to fully embrace that diversity by ensuring that everyone — regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity — is protected from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, education, adoption, and employment. When elected, I will support laws to address bullying of LGBT students at school. Bullying prevents them from getting the most from their education and can even cost them their lives. I also support trans-inclusive healthcare and hate crimes legislation. All families deserve equal protections under the law which will not happen until we end discrimination and violence against the LGBT community.
All issues in one way or another are family issues. Far too many families in Polk County are struggling to make ends meet and that has to change. From my time as an advocate and as a judge, I know that strong families are the building blocks of a strong society and that our laws should provide for the best interest of our children. There are common-sense laws that I will support to make Florida the best place to live, raise a family, and retire. Once elected, I will work to expand Medicaid, promote affordable housing and childcare, provide paid family/medical leave so that families can deal with unexpected illness or start a family without sacrificing their income, and guarantee a decent retirement after a lifetime of contributing to the economy. The truth is, when we make sure families have everything they need to thrive, our communities and our economy will grow as well.
The US has the highest documented rate of incarceration of any country in the world. As a lawyer and a judge, I know that rather than simply focusing on punishing offenders, we need to emphasize bringing non-violent offenders into compliance with the law, rehabilitating people who are serving sentences, assisting victims of crimes, and addressing the root causes of crime like poverty, economic instability, and poor educational outcomes. For example, mental health problems and drug addiction should be treated as medical issues rather than criminal ones. We need increased funding for Drug Courts and Mental Health Courts to better address these medical issues. We need to reform our sentencing laws to make them fair and appropriate to the crime. When in office, I will work to restore a felon’s right to vote once the sentence is completed because it is vital that we bring people back into society after they have served their time. We also need to end the use of private prisons whose incentive is to make money, not to make Florida safer or rehabilitate offenders. By addressing the causes of crime, strengthening families, educating our youth, and rehabilitating offenders, we can reduce crime, put fewer people in prison, save money, and create a safer Florida for everyone.
Our roads, bridges, drainage, and plumbing systems are crumbling. The 100 year-old pipes in the City of Davenport are a perfect example. Poor infrastructure not only threatens the health and safety of our residents but also stunts the economy by preventing the free movement of goods and people around the county. By investing in repairing and expanding infrastructure, we can create new jobs, relieve congestion on our roads, and improve the quality of life for the people of Polk County — all of which will boost the economy. In Tallahassee, I will fight for funding for projects that improve our infrastructure and make Polk County an even better place to live and raise a family.
For the past several decades, citrus greening, cold fronts, and other problems have hurt citrus growers who are an extremely important part of Polk County’s economy. The University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred has been working on these issues. When I am elected, I will work to expand government funded research into solutions for the problems facing citrus growers — having the added benefit of creating new jobs right here in Polk County. I will also work to support cattle ranchers and to keep Polk County agriculturally rich. We also see residential developments encroaching on farms, groves, ranches, and open spaces. I will support funding for the state to buy family farms and let the families continue to operate the farms — which has the added benefit of protecting the environment from developments.