More than 300 candidates are running for the 160 seats in the Florida House and Senate. And, try as we will, FloridaPolitics.com won’t be able to interview them all. So we are 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 candidate spotlight features Amy Mercado, a Democrat running of House of Representatives District 48.
Here she is in her own words:
Significant other? Kids?
Married with a blended family of six children (four of which graduated from Orange County Public Schools).
Education background? Professional background?
I graduated high school from the Academy of Mt. St. Ursula in the Bronx, New York and continued my higher education as a nontraditional student while raising my children, caring for ailing grandparents and working multiple full-time jobs.
In 2004, I graduated from American Intercontinental University with Cum Laude honors and received a Bachelor of Business Administration, with a concentration in Management. I am currently pursuing an Executive MBA from the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University.
What was your first job?
In high school, my first part-time job was at McDonalds (I was 14 years old). My first full-time job was as a bookkeeper at the National Student Nurses Association.
In 25 words or less, why are you running for office?
To make sure that this minority Democratic district has someone they can identify with and someone who will fight for them in Tallahassee.
Did you speak with anybody in your political party before deciding on running? Receive any encouragement? From whom?
After my run in 2010, I was encouraged to run again in the last two election cycles, but I could not for personal reasons.
Before I decided to run in this election cycle, I spoke with quite a few people for almost a year before I made my decision to run. I spoke with past and present party/community leaders, and each of them encouraged me to run for this seat. In fact, many of those whom I spoke with have endorsed me (e.g., Mayor Dyer, Rep. Mark Pafford, Rep. Lori Berman, former Rep. Ron Saunders, Clerk of Court Tiffany Moore-Russell, business leaders and labor unions (for a complete list of endorsements please visit: http://amymercado.com/supporters-of-amy-mercado/).
Who do you count on for advice?
I count on my family and several community leaders that I am fortunate to call my friends/mentors.
Who is your political consultant? Campaign manager?
Debra M. Booth, In Touch Strategies.
Who was the first person to contribute to your campaign? Why did they donate?
Mr. Eugene Poole. Mr. Poole is the president of the Florida Voter’s League; he is one of my mentors and has been instrumental in my political education/growth since 1995.
Who, if anyone, inspires you in state government?
Besides my dad (State Rep. Victor Torres) who has taught me to fight for what I believe in regardless of difficulty, I am inspired by both the current House Democratic Leader Rep. Mark Pafford for his no-nonsense style; and incoming House Democratic Leader Designate Rep. Janet Cruz. As the first Hispanic working mom to be selected by her peers to this post, I admire her drive and tenacity.
Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it?
There are varied reasons why people mistrust elected officials, but the one that drives the mistrust the most is when elected officials “flip-flop” on issues. I was raised with a simple motto, you need to “stand for something or you will fall for anything.” As a private citizen, and as a future elected official, my community will always know where I stand; as one of my favorite endorsers stated, “I will represent the people of District 48 with integrity and principle. I will not sell out, but rather speak truth when it counts.”
What are 3 issues that you’re running on? (You’re not allowed to say education or “improving the schools”)
Economy — More than attracting employers to Florida, we need to do more to retain our existing businesses and help them grow since they are the ones who create new jobs, pay property tax, buy goods, and help the local economy through private investment.
Education — I recognize that charter schools are a part of the state’s public education system. However, the rash of closures, bankruptcies and other mismanagement is a call for us to review how accountable and transparent these entities that operate charter schools are. We cannot have children displaced by fly-by-night charter schools that receive public dollars and fail to deliver a high-quality education.
Health care — I strongly believe we need to expand access to high-quality, affordable health care, delivered by health care practitioners who possess the appropriate level of training and oversight. As a former health care provider, I have seen firsthand the life-and-death decisions providers and patients have to make every single day.
What is a “disruptive” issue (i.e., ride-sharing) you are interested in?
I am interested in “disruptive” innovations in health care. Recently I was told of a health care app that is being tested locally where patients can type in their symptoms and then either be referred to a health care facility and/or receive a diagnosis, prescription, etc. from a health care professional through the app based on the information shared.
How will such apps be regulated? How will providers be compensated? How will apps like this comply with HIPPA?
What does your legislative district need from Tallahassee?
Outside of the economic growth I mentioned previously, my district needs additional funding to address specific needs the Puerto Rican/Latino community is facing.
For example, in this last legislative session, there was a nonrecurrent funding allocation request submitted for $1 million that was negotiated down to $250,000; that request was ultimately vetoed by the governor.
The funding though would have had a direct impact in my district as we have a large Puerto Rican/Latino migration to the area. The state, in fact, is seeing 1,000 Puerto Rican families relocating to Florida every month, according to the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration regional office.
A portion of the requested funds was to administer the GED exam in Spanish. The administration of that exam in Spanish would allow Puerto Rican/Latino arrivals the opportunity to begin their assimilation and acculturation.
Who was the best governor in Florida’s modern history?
I had the privilege of moving to Orlando during Gov. Lawton Chiles leadership; “Walking Lawton,” as he was called, was an amazing leader. He was a true champion of working families and for “accountable” government.
“Chiles Deserves Praise for Trying to Return Confidence in Government.” — Sun Sentinel; March 7, 1991
“Gov. Lawton Chiles was remembered at his funeral … as a father of ideas, a common man and an uncommon statesman.” Los Angeles Times; Dec. 17, 1998.
If you could amend the Florida Constitution, what would you change?
Florida should have a joint constitutional review with members of the House and Senate to focus on what should be repealed (e.g., FL CONST Art. 10 § 21 “Pregnant Pigs”).
Are yard signs an important part of campaigning in your district?
No, signs do not vote.
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
I read my work emails first thing in the morning.
Where do you get your political news?
Local and state political news: Sayfie Review, FloridaPolitics.com and the Orlando Political Observer.
National news: The AP, Washington Post and New York Times.
Who do you think will be the next President of the United States?
60 Minutes or House of Cards?
House of Cards, when I get to watch T.V.
Social media presence? Twitter handle?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amymercadofanpage amymercado
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmyMercado @AmyMercado
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amymercado amymercado
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amy_mercado73/ amy_mercado73
In 140 characters, what’s a tweet that best describes your campaign message?
#Workingmomof6; #bringinggoodpayingjobstoourcommunity; #lifeexperience
Reading and practicing Gracie Barra — Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Favorite sport and sports team?
Mixed Martial Arts/UFC. I am a UFC fan since its inception in the early ’90s.