Nearly 350 candidates are vying for state House and state Senate seats in 2018. Try as we will, Florida Politics can’t interview all of them.
Just like in 2016, we’re again asking every candidate, including incumbents, to complete a questionnaire we believe offers an interesting, albeit, thumbnail sketch of who they are and why they are running. If you are a candidate and would like to complete the questionnaire, email Peter@FloridaPolitics.com.
Today’s feature: Anna Eskamani, a Democrat running for Florida House District 47.
Significant other? Kids?
No, very single. Sometimes I feel like I’m marrying the State of Florida. I hope the voters say “I do!”
Education background? Professional background?
I went to Orange County Public Schools, K-12. I then went to the University of Central Florida (Go Knights!) for all of my degrees. I hold two BAs, one in Political Science with a focus in International Relations. My second BA is in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Women’s Studies. I also hold an undergraduate certificate in Service Learning. From there I continued my academics while working full time, and completed a dual Master’s Degree program, earning myself a MA in Public Administration and a MA in Nonprofit Management. I also hold a graduate certificate in Gender Studies. Today I am pursuing a PhD in Public Affairs, and am very close to taking my qualifying exams.
My Dad, brother, and twin-sister all went to UCF. We are a family of Knights, and I am forever grateful to this incredible institution.
What was your first job?
My first paid job was a summer at Ross in east Orlando. Before my Mom passed away she worked at K-mart as a department manager and we would help her clean the shelves and put clothes away on the weekends.
In 25 words or less, why are you running for office?
I care about people, and Tallahassee is deeply disconnected from the lives of everyday Floridians. It’s time for a change.
Did you speak with anybody in your political party before deciding on running? Receive any encouragement? From whom?
Not really, no. A community Facebook page was launched, encouraging me to run for Orange County Mayor. Some major Democrats threw their weight behind that idea but I felt like my heart and purpose was more in the Florida House. I did meet with former Orange County Comptroller Martha Haynie (a Republican) for advice, and she also encouraged me to run for the Florida House. I actually sought advice from Democrats, Republicans, and NPAs. I am really lucky to have friends from all political persuasions in my life.
Who do you count on for advice?
My twin sister. She is one of a kind. I like to tell people we are “womb to tomb” but she hates it when I say that.
Who is your political consultant? Campaign manager?
Our campaign does not use a general consultant. We instead built our movement from the ground-up. We did use the support of Dave Plotkin and Renata Głębocki of You Should Run to design our logo and website, but our manager is a first-time campaign manager; our team intergenerational and heavily volunteer driven.
Who was the first person to contribute to your campaign? Why did they donate?
The now retired CEO at Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, Barbara Zdravecky. She is a warrior, and wanted to be my first donor.
Who, if anyone, inspires you in state government?
I admire Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith greatly. He is authentic, bold, does his homework, and focused on doing good for his community each and every day.
Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it?
Politicians are too concerned about using poll-tested talking points versus just being themselves. Constituents deserve someone who is authentic and accessible to them. I do my part to always be myself – you know what you get with me, and even if you don’t like it, at least you know where I am coming from, and maybe from that place of honesty we can strive to find common ground.
I am also a very empathetic person. That helps to draw connections with constituents and find common ground.
What are 3 issues that you’re running on? (You’re not allowed to say education or “improving the schools”)
So many but here are three that instantly come to mind: Enhance the growth of Central Florida’s tech and entrepreneurial community; ensure every person can access a positive educational experience via K-12 and beyond; push to expand access to Medicaid so we can finally close the coverage gap – I have been fighting for this issue since 2013!
What is a “disruptive” issue (i.e., ride-sharing) you are interested in?
Driverless vehicles, and especially its impact on public transit. I want the public to be safe and our workers ready for this disrupter.
What does your legislative district need from Tallahassee?
We need mental health resources, affordable housing funds, and competitive salaries for our teacher.
Who was the best governor in Florida’s modern history?
I have a lot of respect for Lawton Chiles.
Are yard signs an important part of campaigning in your district?
People love yard signs and we always love seeing them!
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
Where do you get your political news?
Why Florida Politics, of course! (Seriously, I’m a long time reader.) I also love visiting my local NPR station and Orlando Sentinel.
Social media presence? Twitter handle?
All day, every day. Find us at @AnnaForFlorida on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and of course Facebook My snapchat is @Anna_V_E.
In 280 characters, what’s a tweet that best describes your campaign message?
Orlando native, daughter of immigrants, authentic, and unafraid Democrat who cares deeply about people, and has proven herself as a community leader who gets things done.
I love writing, and dream about publishing my own book of poetry one day.
Favorite sport and sports team?
I will always cheer for my UCF Knights, and love supporting or women athletic teams when I can.