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: Karen Skyers, a Democrat running for Florida House District 61.
Significant other? Kids?
I have three children: Keila, Brian, and Brandon.
Education background? Professional background?
University of Detroit – Mercy;
FAMU Law School.
I’ve put my professional life on hold so I can dedicate all my time and energy to representing the people of District 61.
Most recently, I worked as an Attorney at Becker & Poliakoff P.A.. Before that, I was an Independent Contractor at the Southern Strategy Group and owned my own law firm.
I’ve also served as an Assistant Public Defender for the13th Judicial Circuit and a Legislative Aide to Sen. Arthenia L. Joyner, a Tampa Democrat.
During law school, I worked with Florida Rural Legal Services and interned with the Federal Public Defender’s Office and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights.
Before becoming a lawyer, I was a Child Protective Investigator for the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Lead Adoptions Care Manager at the Children’s Home Society.
What was your first job?
This is the answer to my security questions!
In 25 words or less, why are you running for office?
Opportunity for everyone. Every Floridian deserves a shot at a good job, affordable healthcare and housing, quality schools and safe neighborhoods for their families.
Did you speak with anybody in your political party before deciding on running? Receive any encouragement? From whom?
Yes. I served as a legislative aide to Senator Arthenia Joyner earlier in my career and her guidance has been invaluable to me during this process.
Who do you count on for advice?
My community. As a public defender, I worked alongside the people of Tampa. As a mother and grandmother, this community helped me raise my family. Now, I’m relying on them to help me elevate the issues that impact our day-to-day lives and start conversations that can move our community forward.
Who is your political consultant? Campaign manager?
My campaign manager is Stephanie Owens. My political consultant is Meagan Salisbury at Blue Ticket Consulting.
Who was the first person to contribute to your campaign? Why did they donate?
The first person that contributed to my campaign was my 27-year-old daughter. She knows that investing in my campaign would be a great way to invest in the future of Florida politics.
Who, if anyone, inspires you in state government?
As I mentioned before, Sen. Joyner has been a huge influence on my public service. Watching the way she understands her constituents and channeled their needs and priorities into a cohesive legislative strategy inspires my work everyday. I believe that the ability to translate the wishes of a community into tangible actions is the hallmark of a successful representative.
Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it?
In many cases, politicians say what they think people want to hear, not what they believe. True leadership isn’t always popular, but in the long run, voters come to trust leaders who are willing to disagree with the majority on some issues. I’ll fight for what’s right, no matter what the politically expedient decision might be.
What are 3 issues that you’re running on? (You’re not allowed to say education or “improving the schools”)
Criminal Justice Reform;
Access to Healthcare.
What is a “disruptive” issue (i.e., ride-sharing) you are interested in?
Vocational public education. It’s time to overhaul the way we think about our schools. Florida’s children deserve access to cutting-edge alternatives that can prepare them for 21st century jobs.
What does your legislative district need from Tallahassee?
Funding for affordable housing. Tallahassee needs to stop raiding the funds that we’ve already put aside for housing and start allocating more resources to make sure Tampa residents can afford to put a roof over their heads.
Who was the best governor in Florida’s modern history?
Are yard signs an important part of campaigning in your district?
Yes and no. Visibility is always an important part of campaigning and my district is no exception. But ultimately, this campaign is going to be decided by voters talking to their neighbors about the issues that matter to Tampa.
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
The Good Book.
Where do you get your political news?
I read an assortment of local Bay area and Florida blogs and papers as well as several national outlets. I also follow local community leaders on social media and discuss ongoing community issues with them in-person.
Social media presence? Twitter handle?
In 280 characters, what’s a tweet that best describes your campaign message?
Cooking, reading and scrapbooking.
Favorite sport and sports teams?
Another one of my security answers! But I do enjoy swimming and bowling.