Are you a member of the Rainbow Democrats of Orange County? (Y/N)
Are you a member of the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus? (Y/N)
Are you a member of the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee (DEC)? (Y/N)
Please list any other LGBTQ+ organizations you are affiliated with and any donations you have given.
I’m a supporter of Equality Florida and a regular donor.
Please summarize your history of community involvement. This may include city boards, civic associations, non-profits, etc.
I have been heavily involved in my community for several years. I am a member of the Orange County Democratic Black Caucus, advocate with NOW, and worked as the Director of Government Affairs for the League of Women Voters where I worked on a variety of issues and bills in Tallahassee. I have recently been appointed to the
Please summarize the work you have performed in the past five years to further LGBTQ+ rights.
I have been a fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and the community by working hand in hand with partners in Tallahassee and here locally in Orlando to push for legislation that makes Florida and Orlando a safer, more inclusive space. I worked with organizers on the ground against the anti-trans bill this last session. I pride myself on creating teams that are led by and advised by LGBT organizers and strategists.
What motivated you to run for this position?
I have been a resident of Orlando and Central Florida for over 14 years. Over that time, we’ve seen an incredible influx of growth, diversity, and investment. That said, not everyone has seen that. Black and brown communities that have been historically underserved stayed underserved. Roads and crosswalks have become more and more dangerous creating a city that demands a vehicle to participate in. And the voices who built these vibrant communities are increasingly becoming quieter in place of developers and corporations whose money speaks louder. Orlando is the City Beautiful because of who we are and I am running to make sure that our growth is equitable and inclusive, our city is more walkable, and that we and our neighbors always have a seat at the table. We owe it to ourselves and the future generations who will inherit this city from us.
What does being an ally or advocate for the LGBTQ+ community mean to you?
Being an ally means lifting voices, empowering decisions, and actively listening when these voices are speaking and decisions are being made. The LGBTQ+ community is an incredibly diverse community with diverse issues. That said, my role as an ally is to follow your lead and work together to bring the community and allies together to create safer, more inclusive spaces and practices for the community.
Have you attended an LGBTQ+ Pride Month celebration or Orlando’s Come Out With Pride? (Y/N)
Yes, I have. My family, team, and I are all active participants in every Orlando Pride.
How would you ensure that your office celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Month?
Pride Month is incredibly special for the community and will be just as special for my office. We will celebrate Pride Month with remembrance, celebration, and action. My office and I will host LGBTQ-led townhalls where we can speak and work on issues specific to the LGBTQ+ community. I am a strong believer in community organizing so Pride Month is a great opportunity to organize and host a variety of drives and events benefiting LGBTQ organizations across the district and city. And you can always count on me and my office to be at LGBTQ events throughout Pride Month and therest of the year.
Will you ensure that you and your staff receive competency training on the LGBTQ+ community, emphasizing unconscious bias?(Y/N)
Would you condemn instances of hate speech in your organization and the community at large?(Y/N)
What steps will you take to increase your office’s visibility with the LGBTQ+ community, including encouraging voting participation?
My office will always strive to be present at community events encouraging LGBTQ equality. Voter participation and civic participation are key to achieving a more equitable society for LGBTQ+ folks. My office will work hand in hand with the community to ensure these practices are implemented at the city level and beyond that.
As an Orlando City Commissioner, how would you support creating an LGBTQ+ Advisory Board that would act as a direct link between the City of Orlando and the LGBTQ+ community?
Absolutely, Orlando is long overdue for an LGBTQ+ advisory board. Our ordinances and decisions need to be informed with every community’s input, especially the LGBTQ+ community who participates in every facet of our city.
Research performed by True Colors United found that 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ+. Reasons for this include abuse and family rejection of a youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity. What immediate actions would you take as an Orlando City Commissioner to reduce and prevent homelessness amongst LGBTQ+ youth?
The solution to homelessness is simple, provide stable housing. LGBTQ youth especially need access to safe and reliable housing before we can do anything else for them. As Orlando City Commissioner, I would work hand in hand with community partners who work directly with LGBTQ youth, especially black and brown youth who statistically are the most likely to be homeless, and find solutions that we can implement. I imagine this could be budgetary where we create subsidized housing for youth, access to more grants, or ordinances that invest in housing for communities most likely to experience chronic homelessness. Past just providing housing, we need to invest in existing infrastructures that are already serving this population.
Where do you believe the focus should be for Orlando in preparing for and preventing the damaging effects of climate change?
Orlando has made commitments to being a net-zero waste city by 2040. Realistically speaking, we don’t have that time. We need to make immediate investments in retrofitting our existing buildings and infrastructure that use needless amounts of energy. We also need to be making sure that our future infrastructure is designed and built with long-term sustainability in mind.
A recent study found that the Orlando metropolitan area has the 8th highest wage gap in the nation. The estimated hourly wage is $12.94, but the wage required to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Orlando is $23.60. What actions would you take as Orlando City Commissioner to decrease this wage gap and promote affordable living in Orlando?
Affordable housing is only affordable if you make enough to afford it. As City Commissioner, I will use our bargaining power with contractors, developers, and corporations to ensure that if they want to do business in our city, they need to provide a truly livable wage. City contracts need to have protections in place for workers and I will work with unions and their membership to ensure job opportunities allow our residents to live with dignity. Finally, we just need more affordable housing. Our zoning needs to be mixed-use friendly and denser housing needs to be followed up with meaningful investments in safe and reliable public transportation. This will all involve buy-in and participation from the City, the County, and the State to make possible but I will work every day to foster those relationships and bring these investments to Orlando.
Building upon the previous question, single-parent households faces even higher costs of living due to childcare. This further exasperates the wage gap, making raising a family in Orlando nearly impossible. What actions would you take as Orlando City Commissioner to help struggling parents and make Orlando an affordable place for families?
I got involved in advocacy because my husband and I agreed that if we both worked, we wouldn’t have been able to afford childcare. We took turns staying home while the other worked but this meant I was out of the workforce for over 5 years. Returning to work was not a viable option and starting a new career was almost impossible. I know this issue intimately because I am a working mom in a working family. Like I mentioned before, we need to invest in a diverse and meaningful economy. This includes providing services to single-parent households such as after-school programs, expanded pre-k services, subsidized childcare, and access to resources.
Despite mental illness among adults and children being at an all-time high, Florida ranks next to last on per capita spending on mental health programs. Mental illness, if left untreated, can lead to suffering, homelessness, and death. What are both your immediate and long-term plans for addressing this epidemic in Orlando?
Mental illnesses are often treated as criminal actions instead of diseases that require treatment and care. Immediately, we need to invest in our existing infrastructure that is working to address these issues and the disconnect of care. Additionally, we need a city-wide audit of how we are responding to people experiencing episodes of mental illness or chronically to know how to properly respond to this issue locally. Long-term, we need to listen to the advocates and leaders working on this issue to put resources and education behind our City services to better treat our residents experiencing mental illness.
2021 has been a record year in terms of political attacks against transgender and non-binary communities. Ron DeSantis signed a trans youth sports ban in Florida, the most anti-LGBTQ+ law Florida has seen in over 20 years. Despite this, studies show that 62% of Americans are more supportive of transgender rights than they were five years ago. What programs do you envision for the City of Orlando that could educate residents about transgender and non-binary people, reduce incidents of hate and violence, and ultimately further transgender rights?
It is no mistake that the Florida Legislature has made the LGBTQ+ community, specifically trans people and youth, the scapegoats for their bases. The results are catastrophic and for too many, potentially lethal. Trans youth experience homelessness and suicide at rates significantly higher than their cisgender counterparts. The City of Orlando needs to bring trans voices to the table to discuss and act on what the community needs. I know that education pieces for our police, firefighters, and first responders need to be implemented to respond to trans residents properly and with respect. Our City also needs to model acceptance and inclusion to hold businesses and community leaders accountable as well.