I’m running for the Florida Senate to bring common sense back to Tallahassee so our state government works for our families again instead of for special interests and lobbyists. That starts by ensuring that every child in Florida receives the same opportunities to reach their full potential that I was given.
I was the youngest of ten children and my mother was still pregnant with me when my father left for good. We grew up in Shawnee, Oklahoma, without electricity, running water, or plumbing. When I was four, our house burned down and destroyed what little we had. Our small town came together and donated enough money for a down payment on a new home. That sort of generosity and empathy is sorely lacking in Tallahassee where instead of investing in our children, politicians have slashed services for our most vulnerable – our children and our seniors.
I have a deep appreciation for the transformative effects of teachers and of public education.
All that I have been able to achieve as a law school professor, a lawyer, and a judge, began with the intervention of several key educators at my public school who put me on a path to becoming the first of my family to attend college. My top priority will be to ensure every child in Florida receives an excellent education in safe, well-funded public schools by well-paid teachers who are treated with the respect they deserve.
After serving our country in the Navy in Vietnam, I continued my education with a law degree (JD) from the University of Oklahoma and a master of laws (LLM) and doctorate (SJD) from the University of Wisconsin. I spent nine years as a law school professor at Ole Miss and Mercer before moving to Winter Haven where I met my wife of 3 decades, Chelle. In 1994, I was elected judge in the 10th Circuit Court where I presided over thousands of family law cases until retiring in 2010.
I’ve spent my life fighting for equality, from integrating youth baseball in Oxford, Mississippi, in the 1970s to marching for civil rights in Cumming, Georgia, in the 80s to establishing court processes for domestic violence victims in the 90s, to exposing the failure to test victims’ rape kits recently. With your support, we can create a government that works for all of its citizens, not just the privileged few, and ensure that everyone is treated equally under the law regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.