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.
In my role with the Christian Service Center, we created partnerships with The Center to help the most vulnerable in our community. As a member of City Council, I’ve hade the honor to support the LGBTQ+ community with support for The Center and the Zebra Coalition, to name a few.
Please summarize your history of community involvement. This may include city boards, civic associations, non-profits, etc.
See attached resume.
Please summarize the work you have performed in the past five years to further LGBTQ+ rights.
In the past five years, especially since Pulse, I have had the opportunity to support LGBTQ+ rights through funding and policy. The City Council has passed a comprehensive non-discrimination policy that includes LGBTQ+ businesses, creating level ground for all companies doing business with the City of Orlando. I have supported The Center (their remodel and expansion), Zebra Coalition (especially their move to a new location on Colonial Drive) and others. In addition, I have supported the move toward greater inclusion with our city’s first Equity Officer, as well as LGBTQ+ liaison from the Orlando Police Department.
What motivated you to run for this position?
To continue to serve the citizens of District 3 and the City of Orlando, to complete several projects started before COVID that will enhance the quality of life for District 3 and Orlando residents. While this is a non-partisan race, I have been a lifelong Democrat and volunteered on many local/state/national campaigns.
What does being an ally or advocate for the LGBTQ+ community mean to you?
No one in our city should be discriminated against…being an advocate means to “stand in the gap”, support initiatives and advocate for the community.
Have you attended an LGBTQ+ Pride Month celebration or Orlando’s Come Out With Pride? (Y/N)
How would you ensure that your office celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Month?
As part of my role as a member of City Council, I would continue to participate as well as promote activies through my social media.
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?
In my role a member of City Council, I would continue to support voter registration (like I did during the last election), support our Mayor’s initiaives, and promote opportunities on my social media.
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?
I would make sure that the LBGTQ+ community continues to be represented with City Hall.
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?
I was honored to work with the Zebra Coalition on their new project for LBGTQ+ youth and will help them expand their program throughout the community.
Where do you believe the focus should be for Orlando in preparing for and preventing the damaging effects of climate change?
I have been proud to support the city’s initiatives that include our GreenWorks Initiative, the Bloomberg Climate Change Initiative as well as the move from OUC from fossil fuels by 2050. Withing the GreenWorks Initiative (https://www.orlando.gov/Our-Government/Departments-Offices/Executive-Offices/CAO/Sustainability-Resilience) there are metrics by which we can measure our progress toward self-sustainability by 2035 We also adopted a Building Energy & Water Efficiency Strategy (BEWES) for commercial buildings in Orlando, saving money and energy for our businesses. The latest initiave is the move toward Elective Vehicle charging stations (EV) as part of our building code recquires for new and substantion improved commercial buildings in Orlando.
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?
I’m proud to be part of the City of Orlando as we have raised our minimum wage to $15/hour over the past two years for all full-time permenant staff. We will continue to make strides as an example to the rest of the community. However, remember that minimum wage is not a jurisdictional issue for Orlando but rather it is a state and federal issue. I will continue to advocate for raising the minum wage to close the gap on local housing costs.
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?
Affordable and Attainable housing is major issue throughout the US. Orlando has made progress with increased housing requirements and is using our leverage over builders to require more housing opportunities for everyone. Subsidized housing is a function of the state/federal governments, but our last report is that we have used the American Rescue Act funding to help almost 2,000 families with more than $4.5 million to help people stay in thelr homes. I have been a strong supporter of After School All-Stars (ASAS) that provides after school care and support for middle school children, plus Olando Day Nursery/4C/HeadStart for birth-to-preschool for children, all without charge for at-risk families. In Parramore, we created and implemented ther Parramore Kids Zone (PKZ) to reach at-risk kids (PK-HS) in a geographic area. In 2021-22, we have expanded PKZ to three other areas serving families and their children.Note: As Executive Director of the Christian Service Center, we understood this crisis and helped families stay in their homes by providing food and clothing.
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 illness and health is a direct responsibility of Orange County Government through the State of Florida. However, the City of Orlando is partnering, independently, with scores of health providers to fund mental health services for the most vulnerable. In a few weeks, we will introduce a special program our homeless population in our downtown corridor. Most recently, we adopted a Community Response Team (CRT) to work in partnership with OPD to response to non-life mental health calls through 911. We have had great responses for this alternative response pilot exceeding similar programs throughout the nation. We will continue these partnerships and encourage our county/state/federal to join us in tackling this issue.
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?
Our city has been open to helping support transgender rights. As to reducing incidents, we continue to use our LGBTQ+ OPD Liaison to fight hate crimes and promote safe places as businesses for this at-risk community.