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.

 

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. 

 

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, we need to work together to achieve the future we want.

 

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©2020 Paid for by Danika Fornear, Democrat, for Florida House of Representatives District 79