Orlando Archives - Page 3 of 101 - Florida Politics

John Newstreet qualifies by petition, second Democrat enters HD 44 race

Businessman and Kissimmee chamber of commerce executive John Newstreet has qualified by petition as a Republican candidate running in the special election to fill the Florida House District 44 opening for west Orange County.

And in the same district, a second Democratic candidate now has filed, Nuren Durre Haider of Orlando, who is vice chair of the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee. Haider ran unsuccessfully last year for a seat on the Orange County Commission.

Newstreet collected 350 valid petition signatures, 54 more than needed, to become the third Republican candidate to qualify in the race, which now officially is on for a Republican primary on Aug. 15.

Fellow Republican Winter Garden businessman Bobby Olszewski qualified by petition last week, and fellow Republican Dr. Usha Jain qualified earlier this week. Businessman Bruno Portigliotti, also a Republican, has filed his intents to run, as has Democratic businessman Paul Chandler.

Neither Chandler nor Haider has filed any signatures yet, nor has Portigliotti. Once Chandler and Haider qualify, that would also force an Aug. 15 Democratic primary. The general election is set for Oct. 10 to fill the seat, vacated when former state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle resigned to take a judicial appointment.

Newstreet only filed less than a month ago.

“The support we are receiving from the voters in District 44 has been overwhelming and unexpected this early in the campaign,” Newstreet stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “They understand we need a conservative in Tallahassee, someone who has a lifetime of service to veterans and the community with a track record of creating jobs.”

Republican Chris Anderson, deputy sheriff, Army veteran, enters HD 28 race

Seminole County Deputy Sheriff Chris Anderson has filed to run as a Republican in Florida House District 28, bringing an tough but achieving life story into a primary for the open seat serving northeast Seminole County.

Anderson, 35, enters the race professing an unusual background for a house candidate in Seminole. As a child raised by a single father who abused drugs and died of AIDS, Anderson graduated high school, joined the U.S. Army, served in Afghanistan, and then came home to start a family and serve in the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

“There’s every reason why I should have been in the back seat of a police car, rather than as a deputy sheriff in the front seat today,” Anderson stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “I attribute the difference to faith, hard work and the belief that we live in a country where anyone can achieve the American Dream if we set our minds to it and never give up.”

He’s facing Winter Springs businessman David Smith for the Republican nomination. Lee Mangold, chief executive officer and co-founder of GoldSky Security, is running for the Democrats, for a seat being vacated by term-limited Republican state Rep. Jason Brodeur.

Having grown up with a single parent who struggled with life altering substance abuse, Anderson expressed understanding of and pledged to tackle “dinner table” issues that face families.

In the news release, Anderson recalled times of bathing with toilet water, doing homework by candle light and going to bed hungry. He also recalled, as a teenager, intervening in one of two times his father attempted suicide, after his father grew deeply depressed after learning he had contracted AIDS.

After his Army enlistment, he retired as a disabled combat veteran and became a deputy sheriff. He and his high school sweet heart Ebony Anderson have been married 15 years, and have a son and two daughters.

His law enforcement background has included human resources background investigations, major case management in death investigations, tactical fugitive apprehension operations, criminal investigations, crisis negotiations, law enforcement training programs and criminal street gang investigations and training.

“I am committed to working hard for the future of all Floridians and their families and tackling the dinner table issues that affect us all – helping families put food on the table, saving money for our children’s education, and keeping our communities safe,” Anderson stated. “By promoting and defending our conservative principles of low taxes, limited government, more freedom and the Constitution – including our Second Amendment rights – we can build a more prosperous Florida for all.”

Val Demings tries new route to get anti-terrorism money for Orlando

Orlando Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings has attached an amendment to a Homeland Security bill hoping for another route to get anti-terrorism money for Orlando and other cities left out of a federal grants program.

On Wednesday Demings got the amendment into House Resolution 2825, the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act of 2017, during a U.S. House Homeland Security Committee hearing, to create a new avenue for anti-terrorism grants to at-risk cities.

Such money has been distributed to cities the department ranks as having the highest risks for terrorism, providing multi-million grants for law enforcement to beef up anti-terrorism capabilities. Orlando received such grants several times through 2014, but hasn’t qualified since.

Demings and others in Florida’s congressional delegation have argued that the department’s criteria don’t adequately take into account such things as the many millions of visitors the City Beautiful hosts each year. Congress members from other cities such as San Antonio had joined Demings in previous efforts to get Homeland Security to reassess its criteria.

The new program, outlined in Demings’ amendment, would permit cities and jurisdictions that previously received anti-terrorism grants to apply for new funding under a new program, to sustain counter-terrorism training and equipment. It would be a competitive grant program, and would authorize at least $39 million for the purposes of allowing high-risk urban areas that were previously eligible.

“Earlier this week, we observed the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub attack. The preparation that led to our local first responders’ successful response was created through previous grant investments, particularly the Urban Area Security Initiative,” Demings stated in a news release. “Unfortunately, the old UASI funding that is supporting some capabilities in Orlando will soon expire, and despite the Pulse nightclub attack, Orlando is, once again, an unfunded UASI.

“This legislation would help ensure that Orlando does not lose ground on preparedness,” she continued. “I believe we have no greater obligation than to keep the people that we represent safe from harm.”

She also offered two other amendments that were adopted into the bill by the committee, with the backing of the chair, Republican U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, who also backed her grant program amendment.

– Her second amendment would require the Government Accountability Office to perform an independent review of the risk formula and award processes for the urban areas grant program.

– The third would authorize funding for the Transportation Security Administration to continue to staff airport security exit lanes with federal Transportation Security Officers.

Stephanie Murphy named as a chair of Dems’ national security group

Congressional Democrats have formed a new national security task force within their caucus and picked Winter Park’s U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy to be one of the three chairs.

The Democrats in Congress announced the task force Tuesday, intended to “advance smart, strategic, and strong national security policies focused on protecting the United States, the American people, and our interests abroad,” according to their press release.

Murphy was appointed as one of the chairs along with U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Jimmy Paneta of California.

Murphy, a freshman who is a former Department of Defense intelligence analyst, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. In her five months in office, she has aggressively sought to establish national security chops, with several national security speeches and several national security bills, including one Democrats universally applauded that would keep White House advisor Steve Bannon off of President Donald Trump‘s National Security Council.

She also has introduced two bill proposing national security intelligence organizing for U.S. interests in North Korea and in the whole Pacific-Asia rim. She also introduced a bill, endorsed last week by the moderate Blue Dog Democrats Caucus, which would require the White House to report to Congress any transfers of classified information to enemy states.

“The United States faces a wide range of threats, whether from terrorist groups like ISIS or nations like North Korea. It has never been more important to develop and implement national security policies that are smart, strategic, and strong,” Murphy stated in the news release issued Tuesday by the House Democratic Caucus.”

The caucus stated that the new task force will, “through substantive policy discussions, provide a forum for members to identify solutions to our most pressing security challenges and communicate these solutions to the American people in a clear and compelling way. The task force will also take concrete actions to bolster Democratic positioning on national security and hold the Trump administration accountable.”

The task force will hold its inaugural meeting on June 21, where members will meet with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

John Newstreet raises $30,000 in early days of HD 44 special election race

Republican candidate John Newstreet‘s campaign is reporting that it has raised more than $30,000 in the first 11 days since he announced his run for the open seat in Florida House District 44.

Newstreet is reporting a total of $30,576 through the end of May in a news release, though neither he nor the other candidates in that race have to file anything with the state until July 6, more than a week after ballots are sent to military and overseas voters, because of the timetables assigned to the special election.

The Republican primary is set for August 15 to fill the seat vacated by Eric Eisnaugle. Newstreet, an executive with the Kissimmee chamber of commerce, will face former Winter Garden Commissioner Bobby Olszewski, businessman Bruno Portigliatti, and Dr. Usha Jain. There is one Democrat running, businessman Paul Chandler.

“I’m honored and humbled by the support I have received since announcing my candidacy,” Newstreet stated in the release. “As a first-time candidate, it is encouraging to know so many neighbors, friends, and leaders in District 44 are excited to support me to represent our community.”

Newstreet declared he finds it “unacceptable” that the state is not requiring financial reports until after the first absentee ballots go out. He said he is releasing his May numbers to remain transparent to voters, and he challenged his other opponents to do likewise.

“The legislature was very clear when they passed strict reporting dates in 2013 to provide transparency in elections,” Newstreet stated. “While not required, I believe we have a solemn duty to follow the intent of the law, even if it is not required.

“Any honorable candidate should release their May campaign reports as well,” he added. “We cannot keep voters in the dark in this election.”

Three Orlando members in Congress to tell Pulse victims’ stories, introduce resolution

Democratic U.S. Reps. Darren Soto and Val Demings of Orlando and Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park intend to cosponsor a resolution in Congress Monday night and spend about an hour on the House of Representatives floor paying tribute to the 49 people murdered at Pulse last year.

The trio attended the Pulse one-year memorial events in Orlando Monday and spoke at the ceremony at the Pulse nightclub, and then intended to fly back to Washington to take the city’s messages of remembrance, sorrow and unity to Congress.

They are expected to appear on the floor around 7 p.m., around the same time as the city-wide vigil scheduled at Orlando’s Lake Eola Park. It will be broadcast on C-SPAN 3.

“It’s in remembrance of the 49 victims we lost here in Orlando, and reinforcing the notion that we need to have acceptance of the LGBTQ community, as well as the amazing unity that our community has shown after this tragedy,” Soto said while appearing at the Sea-to-Sea Flag unfurling at the Orange County Administration Building.

“We’ll be doing an hour-long ‘Special Order’ on the House floor where we’ll be reading many of the stories of victims into the record,” Soto said.

In a press release, Demings added, “We will not forget the 49 men and women who were killed on June 12, 2016,” said Representative Val Demings, whose district includes the Pulse nightclub.

“Our community is still healing, family and friends are still mourning the lives of their loved ones, and survivors are still recovering from tragedy,” Demings added.

History Center exhibit catches love, creativity, faith outpourings following Pulse

There are boxes atop tissues on every display case at the Pulse One Orlando Exhibit that opened Monday at the Orange County Regional History Center, and they are being used.

From now through Saturday the center is displaying 200-300 items that were offered in the past year at various make-shift shrines throughout Orlando, items curated to express the community’s sorrow over the 49 people murdered, but also the love, creativity and faith that people left behind in the open, the rain and the heat, from personal notes to a love seat, from rosaries to the 49 memorial crosses carved and donated by an Indiana artist.

These are among the more than 5,000 items that Orlando, Orange County and the history center have gathered – and are still gathering – and cleaning, restoring, and archiving to preserve forever the material expressions of a city trying so hard to draw love an unity from tragedy and mourning. Eventually a permanent display will be developed, in part from input from the families of the 49 murdered on June 12, 2016, at Orlando’s popular gay nightclub Pulse, on Latino night.

Curators set out for this exhibit, to mark the one-year anniversary, to offer “a little taste of this, a little taste of that,” from among the mementoes, but through that clear patterns began to emerge, including a lot of art, and a lot of faith-based items, said History Center Executive Director Michael Perkins.

“The collection in toto is very heavy with art. We realized after a while that, while 9/11 is more for first responders, firefighters, with the badges and helmets and things like that, this collection is filled with art, of the folks we lost, and given the fact that Orlando is a pretty artistic community,” Perkins said.

Like much of what is being observed in Orlando Monday, Perkins said he hoped people get a sense of the community’s, and the nation’s and world’s responses of love and support.

“We think that’s what the collection shows the story of,” Perkins said.

That message shows up in numerous items, along with drawings and paintings of each of the 49 victims. There is a couch placed at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts by Ikea, which was then signed with messages by thousands of people. There are signed flags left by visitors from other states and countries. There are displays dedicated to the police, deputy sheriffs, firefighters, paramedics, doctors and nurses who performed to the apex of their calls of duty.

Perkins said he was most affected by the the items, particularly personal notes, left by children.

“Those have a particular meaning to me, to just get a sense of how a child could possibly process something that is just unimaginable. They’re very simple messages from, ‘I hope you’re happy in heaven,’ to ‘I hope you all feel better soon.’ Just simple, innocent messages just written on a little piece of paper, of which we found so many,” Perkins said.

Many of the items also are on display over the internet, along with images of hundreds of other items, at the One Orlando Collection Digital Gallery.

Trulieve opens The Villages dispensary

Clearwater-based Trulieve is opening its seventh medical cannabis dispensary starting Tuesday with a new location at The Villages.

The Villages Trulieve will be at 13940 US Highway 441, #601 in the Oakland Hills Professional Center.

“We’re excited to have a location in The Villages. Many of our patients are seniors, which makes this location key,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers. “Our goal is to serve as many patients as we can and we will continue to open more locations throughout the rest of the year.”

In addition to The Villages, Trulieve now delivers medical marijuana products statewide and through dispensaries in Clearwater, Edgewater, Miami, Pensacola, Tallahassee, and Tampa.

Patients are offered an assortment of both low THC and high-THC products with various delivery methods including capsules, vaporizers, and tinctures.

Trulieve will be holding an official announcement Tuesday 10 a.m. at a news conference followed by tours of The Villages dispensary.


Teresa Jacobs, Buddy Dyer, Patty Sheehan: Rainbow flag symbolizes Orlando’s values

As Orange County once again unfurled a piece of the Sea-to-Sea Rainbow Flag in downtown Orlando, city and county leaders insisted its values of acceptance, understanding, diversity and inclusion shall forever define Orlando.

The anniversary of the catastrophic mass murder at Orlando’s popular gay nightclub Pulse on Latino night, June 12, 2016, began largely in celebration of what this community found within itself in the hours, days, months and now the first year since.

City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, introduced at the ceremony as the heart of Orlando, collapsed into the arms of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer as Section 93 of the miles-long Sea-to-Sea Flag, symbolizing the spirit of hope and love, was stretched into position on the Orange County Administration Building. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, other city commissioners, county commissioners, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma, and others all seemed ready to join in the hug.

The flag, Sheehan said, had long ago become ” symbol for LGBTQ unity in a time when we needed a way to symbolize the LGBTQ community.”

“We have responded to that with love and kindness and decency. We’ve responded to hatred with love,” Sheehan said. “That’s just who my community is, and I’m so proud of my community.”

Dyer called the day a year ago “the darkest day, by far, in our city’s history.”

“And since that morning we’ve come together in so many different ways, to support the survivors, the victim’s families, the first responders,” Dyer said. “In the face of terror, this community showed the world what the best of humanity looks like.

“But even in a place as welcoming as Orlando there is still much to do, to honor the legacy of 49 beautiful souls we can’t simply be bystanders,” Dyer continued.

“Here in Orlando and Orange County our compassion and our culture of inclusion and acceptance have shined brightly over the past year. And it is so important that we continue to embrace the values of the Rainbow Flag,” Jacobs said. “It is those values that have made our community what it is. It is the values of acceptance, of understating and of inclusion. Together we must continue to erase those lines that separate us.

“We must continue on the charge that we were given on June 12, 2016, when 49 members of our community became our 49 Pulse angels,” Jacobs continued. “We have a moral obligation here on Earth to do our part to make sure their loss is never forgotten, and the change they wanted to see is the change that we insist happen in our time, in our lifetime, here in this community and across the world.”

Although Dyer noted that many of the values of inclusion already were in place in Orlando, this is a city changed. Jacobs was part of that change, as Sheehan said she had observed Jacobs have “an honest epiphany of understanding of the LGBTQ community” last year, becoming a heartfelt ally of Orlando’s LBGTQ community. The first time the flag was unfurled there, late last June, much of the city felt the same way.

“I can tell you candidly that ten years ago that we would never have been able to fly this flag, or that we could do so without an outpouring of outrage and objections,” Jacobs said. “I can also tell you we received one, single comment of disagreement, in a county 1.3 million large.”

Darren Soto cautiously eyeing Puerto Rico statehood effort

Sunday’s landslide vote in Puerto Rico to determine statehood and perhaps add the 51st star to the American flag, was almost ignored by news media, until the last minute, because of all the political controversies emanating from Washington.

But some officials like U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat representing the 9th Congressional District had been paying close attention since the election was scheduled.

Soto, 39, the first Florida member of Congress of Puerto Rican heritage, was careful not to take sides in the referendum.

“I believe that decision is solely up to the voters (of Puerto Rico), he said in an April interview, adding,’’ But I did ask to be appointed to the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, just in case they asked for statehood,” Soto said.

One of the next steps to becoming a state after a vote from a territory is for its administrators to request statehood from Congress. And the first step will be to go through the subcommittee on which Soto sits.

Voters in Puerto Rico approved statehood by almost 97 percent due in part to a boycott of the referendum by the party supporting a continuation of the current commonwealth status.

“It was a good turnout, but at the end of the day it is those who show up at the polls who decide,” he said.

Soto is well aware that the Republican-controlled House and Senate may be reluctant to approve statehood because voters in the new state likely would put Democratic House members and senators into the Congress.

“I and Rep. Don Young (Republican from Alaska) will be preparing a detailed bipartisan report to our subcommittee,” he said.

Puerto Ricans on the island cannot vote in presidential elections, but once they move into the United States mainland, they can participate in the presidential election as well as the elections in the states in which they reside. If statehood is granted they won’t have to relocate to vote for president.

The large population of voters with Puerto Rican heritage contributed to Soto’s election November in the heavily Democratic 9th District.

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