Home grown. As a Pensacola native, I grew up in State House District 1. I have fond memories of becoming a softball player at the age of 9 and playing for the Youth Association of North East Pensacola (YANEP) in Ensley. For those that may remember, the ball park was behind Hillcrest Baptist Church before it moved across Nine Mile Road, which used to be the practice field, the old flying field.
I also have fond memories of my dad, also from Pensacola, taking me fishing. We would go to some not so familiar fishing spots in the area because as any fisherman knows you are not supposed to reveal your best spots. We kept those secret. My dad had an interesting way of fishing, at least I thought so. He used a fly rod but with a cork and hook, not a fly. But it worked. He was not only a good fisherman but he also cooked the best fried fish and hush puppies you ever tasted.
I eventually lost interest in fishing but not in playing softball. I made the Tate High School softball team my freshman year and I was super excited to be able to play for my high school. Being a student athlete at Tate prepared me for what was to come next. I was offered a softball scholarship to Pensacola Junior College (now Pensacola State College) and earned an Associate of Arts degree. Since I was 9, my mom never missed a game that I can remember. That was a lot of games!
From there, I continued working and put myself through school. I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and a Master’s degree in Public Administration, both from the University of West Florida. I was the first college graduate in my family.
I have over 20 years of experience working in both the public and private sectors. Public agencies I have worked for include the Florida Department of Transportation, Escambia County Engineering Department, and the West Florida Regional Planning Council.
Earlier this year, I made the decision to run for the Florida House of Representatives District 1 open seat and have committed full-time to campaigning. I hope to be the third consecutive Tate Aggie to go to Tallahassee and bring a more balanced representation of the panhandle. I am working hard to earn the trust, support, and votes of the community.
One of the many projects I have been working on is the restoration of passenger train service to Pensacola. I was appointed by the Federal Railroad Administration and served on the Gulf Coast Rail Service Working Group. I hope to continue those efforts as a State Representative in Tallahassee.
I am the only Florida House District 1 candidate that attended local public schools. I attended a couple of local private schools as well. Local schools I attended include: Pensacola Christian, Pine Meadow Elementary, Wedgewood Middle, Escambia Christian, Ferry Pass Middle, and Tate High.
The State of Florida has not been a friend to public education in recent years. I will advocate for protecting and increasing the public education budget. I will not support funding competing entities, such as charter schools, that are not required to meet the same level of standards as the public-school system and have no oversight, accountability, or transparency requirements. The public education budget needs to be a top priority and should include salaries for teachers that reflect education as a priority.
I support health care for all. With the recent changes to the Affordable Care Act, premiums have increased for those that can least afford it and less coverage is being provided. The State of Florida should be proactive and provide the opportunity for residents to buy into a state program, such as the program offered to all state employees. I would support a state sponsored program that would lower premiums for state employees and provide a lower premium with better coverage for residents of the state. I also support expanding Medicaid in order to provide care to the most vulnerable in our state.
I support alternative energy initiatives in order to reduce continued reliance on fossil fuels. I will support continuing the ban on offshore drilling and a ban on fracking. I would like to see a multi-state commission created to address shared environmental issues such as oil spills, air quality, water quality and availability, etc. I support partnering with our neighboring states (i.e., Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana) to address our shared environmental concerns. The multi-state commission would also be instrumental in creating a long-term plan to address the environmental issues we are experiencing now and those projected.
I am the only Florida House District 1 candidate with a transportation background. I support the State of Florida becoming a member of the Southern Rail Commission and support legislation for the restoration of passenger train service to our area, which will also create jobs and give a boost to our local economy.
For Florida to continue to be competitive in the future, a new vision is needed for our transportation system that includes a more robust public transportation and transit systems. We will not be able to widen our way out of congestion.