- a driven candidate, with a diverse background -
I am a low-income, hardworking, single mother, and a woman of color, and I have first hand experience with navigating a broken system. I have experienced the chaos and uncertainty of being dependent on unemployment and food stamps, and I have struggled through the challenges presented when it comes to healthcare.
I was born a Floridian, in Tampa. My mother comes from a successful rice farming family in Thailand, and she instilled in me an appreciation for rural life, and the advantages of living and working off the land.
My father is a retired Air Force Captain and Vietnam Veteran. He met my mother while stationed in Thailand. My grandfather defended our country in WWII as a Fighting Navy SeaBee. Being raised in a military family gave me the opportunity to travel the world, to experience and appreciate many different cultures and ways of life, as well as a develop a healthy respect for the sacrifices that have been made by the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces.
Just out of high school, I became a professional alligator wrestler. This experience taught me a lot about Florida’s unique and delicate ecosystems, and launched my career as an environmental educator and wildlife rehabilitator. While working full time, I also spent my nights and weekends working as a domestic violence and sexual assault victim advocate and a firefighter.
I currently work as a journalist, covering important stories in rural SWFL communities. I write for the Caloosa Belle, Immokalee Bulletin, Clewiston Sweet Life, and Lake Okeechobee News.
I have always felt a call to community service, since I was a kid- and I remain dedicated to serving my community. I spend a few days each week collecting and distributing food, like fresh bread and baked goods, to food insecure families and individuals. I myself have experienced being dependent on food stamps and food pantries, and I understand the struggle.
I passionate about protecting the environment. Especially Florida’s unique and delicate ecosystems. I believe that environmental rights are human rights, as our livelihoods, health, and our very existence are dependent upon the quality of the environment.
I am the Secretary for the Hendry County Democratic Caucus. I am a Calusa Waterkeeper Ranger. I am an active member of the Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership- Citizen’s Advisory Commitee. I am also the executive director of a youth S.T.E.A.M. Camp, that focuses on environmental education. Weekly, my family and I travel along the Caloosahatchee River, testing water conditions and collecting and recording data for the EarthEcho Water Challenge. We also collect water samples and data for Calusa Waterkeeper.
I am running for State Representative in Florida's 79th District, which includes eastern & northern unincorporated Lee County, including: Alva, Lehigh Acres, Buckingham, Fort Myers Shores, Babcock, Suncoast Estates, and North Fort Myers.
My family has called Lehigh Acres home for over 20 years, so I am deeply invested District 79. I am running for office to help build the community I know we can be. I support clean water, improved access to affordable healthcare, and legalizing cannabis. When elected, I promise to listen to my constituents, and work with them to enact viable solutions to the issues we face.
Healthcare is a Human Right. We all deserve affordable health insurance and an American standard of care.
Legalizing Cannabis will be beneficial for our veterans, our minority communities, and our economy.
Water is Life. We must take steps to preserve our unique SWFL ecosystems.
The Lee County Young Democrats endorses my campaign. https://m.facebook.com/leeyds/
Todd Truax, Democratic Candidate for Lee County Board of Commissioners, District 3, has endorsed my campaign. https://www.toddtruax.com/
Cindy Banyai Democratic Candidate for Florida Congressional District 19 will soon announce her endorsement of my campaign, as well. https://www.cindybanyai.com/
I have also received the Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate Distinction. https://momsdemandaction.org/
I am an active member of the Hendry County Democratic Women’s Club, and they are in the process of writing a letter of support for my campaign. https://m.facebook.com/HendryDWC/
Why am I running for State House?
I’m fighting for a better Future.
Yes, it’s true. I was an alligator wrestler. The kind that would lure a big gator out of the pond, by feeding it, letting the crowd hear the strength of it’s jaw clap and showcasing the gator’s speed as I circled it. Old Florida tourist entertainment at it’s best.
During these shows, there were “spotters” stationed around the the perimeter of the gator pit. Staff that were there to keep an eye on any other activity in the pond, any gators approaching me from a blind spot, to keep me safe— but during this one particular show, my spotters let me down. It was a hot, humid summer day in South Florida, and they had lost focus in the searing heat.
When I got to the point in the show, where l take a giant leap onto the gator’s back, pinning him down with my hands, I grasped the gator’s tail and dragged him backwards a little, working to get him into position for the big jump. Suddenly, I see something lunging at me, just out of the corner of my eye, and I realize there’s a big one coming for me. I jump across the rock barrier, slipping on the algae. I hear a snap, feel a sharp pain as I hit the gravel, but I’m still holding my gator by it’s tail. I hang on, using him to defend myself, as I drag him and crawl my way backwards to the exit. The audience roars with applause.
Being a gator wrestler was an experience that made me more confident and fast on my feet. But the reason I mention it, as I’m introducing myself, is not just to brag - but because these experiences I have had, with the spotters losing focus, not there to look out for my safety while I struggle to survive— Our government is doing the same thing, right now. They’re failing us, leaving so many of us to try to struggle out of the gator pit, without accessible healthcare or jobs that pay a living wage. They have completely abandoned their duties to help and protect us, especially during this pandemic.
I know what its like to not have a spotter. I didn’t have a spotter that day with the gators. I didn’t have a spotter when I was furloughed, or when I lost my health insurance.
We didn’t have spotters when our waters became so toxic with blue-green algae and fecal indicator bacteria that our public swimming areas had to be permanently closed... And where have the spotters been, what have they been doing as Florida becomes the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic?
The incumbent, Spencer Roach, is one of those bad spotters. He is out of touch with this district and our needs. He has lost his focus- why is a state representative on the Gulf Coast wasting time regulating the rights of a town council in the Keys? Why did he sponsor a bill to regulate sunscreen, when so many of us are struggling just to put food on the table and access basic healthcare right here in district 79?
So many of us need help up escaping the gator pit. We need access to unemployment, but Florida’s unemployment system is broken and needs to be fixed. We know that unemployment will help keep us from sinking, but ultimately we need to create more job opportunities that provide living wages. We need to be spotters for the lower and middle class, keeping them from being pinned down- instead of offering developer subsidies and tax cuts for the wealthy.
Two of the most important challenges we face are a failing economy and environmental destruction. Fortunately, there are ways to wrestle our way through both.
We have already seen the benefit of medical marijuana- creating thousands of jobs and sales that have continued to surge, despite the pandemic. If Florida legalizes the adult use of cannabis, it will grow our economy, promote public health, bring in more dependable revenue for state programs without raising taxes, create more jobs, and provide the opportunity for environment-friendly agricultural practices.
Reforming florida’s cannabis laws is a giant leap onto the gator’s back—we need to legalize it, regulate it, and tax is- and it will help sustain us and move us forward. When we have that pinned down, we can begin to develop a clean energy economy that will improve job opportunities exponentially, as well as reduce pollution, and build resiliency.
These are just a few of the places where i know we can make progress. There is so much to tackle, and i am ready to jump in. But, i need you to get out there and do your part.
I ask for your support, help send me to Tallahassee.
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Donate to the actblue account.
Display one of our campaign yard signs.
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Tell your family, friends, neighbors- anyone who will listen- to vote Fornear!
If elected, i promise to reach across the aisle, to build the community we know we can be and fulfill the promise of opportunity for all.
Social & Economic Justice
A Fair and Inclusive Society: Equality, Living Wages, Investment in Education, Sustainable Growth
Danika Fornear will work towards a future of overall economic prosperity, where we create opportunities for all members of society to earn viable wages, which will contribute to sustained economic growth. Danika Fornear knows that if we help more people become financially stable, able to provide for themselves, they then spend their earnings on goods, which in turn boosts the economy. It’s a win win.
Affordable and Accessible
What legislation and/or policies does Danika Fornear believe the state should pursue in respect to healthcare access for all Floridians?
I would support policy and legislation that expands access to and affordability of health care under the Affordable Care Act, for all Floridians, as I believe healthcare for all is imperative. Expansion of our Medicaid program and making sure women have to access affordable, high-quality reproductive health care, including access to abortion services and birth control would also be a priority. I also believe we need to improve and teach educational programs for the public about health, health care laws, and sex education.
Every human is entitled to health care. Like any basic element of life, health care sustains us and should always be affordable and accessible for everyone—where they need it, when they need it, no exceptions and no interruptions.
The consequences of being uninsured are significant. Uninsured patients do not receive proper medical care in the right place, and are up to four times more likely than insured patients, to require hospitalizations and emergency care that otherwise could have been preventable.
While we have taken significant steps toward expanding access to health insurance coverage and improving the quality of care, clearly more work is not only necessary, it’s imperative. Danika Fornear is determined to introduce and support legislative proposals that preserve and expand access, affordability, coverage and ensure quality within our health care system.
Environment: Think Green Vote Blue
Environmental rights are human rights!
What steps does Danika Fornear believe the State should take, to protect Florida’s ecosystems, water resources, and coastal communities?
We need to take drastic and swift steps towards combating climate change, building a clean energy economy, and securing environmental justice.
Environmental concerns in District 79 are centered around the battle for clean water requires us to act swiftly.
Danika Fornear actually teaches environmental education in a local youth S.T.E.A.M, program, along the Caloosahatchee River. She is also a proud Calusa Waterkeeper Ranger, who while campaigning for State House District 79, continues to go out into the field to help with hands-on collection of data and monitoring. Reporting on the conditions surrounding Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB). She is continues to do what she can to combat HAB’s. Danika Fornear participates in area conferences, discussions, and research, to remain well informed on current water quality issues. She is determine to discover and help implement new strategies for reducing nutrient flow into Florida waters.
Danika Fornear knows that the protection of the Caloosahatchee River & Estuary, Lake Okeechobee, Nicodemus Slough, Charlotte Harbor, Estero Bay, the near-shore waters of Lee County, and their watersheds, is crucial.
Beyond that, Fornear knows that environmental rights are human rights, as our livelihoods, health, and our very existence are dependent upon the quality of the environment locally, nationally, and globally.
Danika Fornear supports the Green New Deal.
Improving voter access & participation
VOTE BY MAIL, request your VBM ballot!
How does Danika Fornear think we could improve voter access and promote voter participation in elections?
First, I would strongly encourage voting by mail- especially during the pandemic we are facing. Then, I would work on removing barriers that are in place, preventing people from registering to vote. One way around this would be automatic voter registration. I would eliminate ex-offender disenfranchisement laws. Also, design and deploy civic engagement tools to encourage voting, particularly for those who have become alienated from the democratic process.
The Pandemic & Our Economy
Fix our broken unemployment system- pay those claims!
What additional actions does Danika think the Legislature should take to recover Florida’s jobs, small businesses, and the state’s economy impacted by COVID19 virus?
Clearly, we need to fix our unemployment system. If workers were able to access their UI benefits and continue to receive pay while work is disrupted, the impact of COVID-19 could be lessened. Also, by ensuring that workers have proper protective/safety equipment and requiring that both workers and the general public follow set safety restrictions (CDC guidelines), it would allow for business to continue with minimal spread of the virus.
Criminal Justice System Reform
What policies and/or legislation would Danika Fornear like to see introduced, to best address racial inequity in Florida’s criminal justice system?
This is one of several topics that I am extremely passionate about- I would work to sponsor legislation that remedies racial and ethnic disparity in the criminal justice system including: advocating for increased funding for data collection and management so that racial disparities can be discovered and monitored, development of a strategy for identifying and reducing disparities throughout system checkpoints, maintaining and expanding re-entry programs that assist inmates in successfully returning to their communities, developing and implementing professional training programs that address the factors contributing to racial disparity. I would also move forward with the decriminalization of marijuana.
Free, Accessible, Equitable, and Quality Public Education
What changes to Florida’s public education system, pre-K through grade 12, would Danika Fornear support?
I would support changes such as an increase of funding for public schools, access to high-quality early childhood education, policy development that focuses on eliminating racial, ethnic, and gender based disparities, programs that work towards preparing students for either college or technical schools, as well as their futures in the workforce, and overall elevation of the teaching profession.
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Don’t hesitate to reach out!
Thank you for taking the time to read about the issues that I find important to the current and future generations of Floridians. I’m here to serve the people and work for you, with you. I’d love to learn about your views on the issues, hear your concerns, and answer any questions you have. If you feel I do not represent the best stance on any issue, please do not hesitate to contact me. Let’s have a discussion on how I can serve you better.
– Danika Fornear
Lehigh Acres, Lee County 33936