Orlando Archives - Page 7 of 31 - Florida Politics

AutoNation chair Mike Jackson lashes out against anti-immigration, anti-trade positions

The chairman and president of the nation’s largest car dealer company, Mike Jackson of AutoNation, blasted Donald Trump and others who rail against immigrants and international trade deals, during a keynote address to the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

In his speech Thursday night to the chamber’s Future of Florida Forum Leadership Dinner in Orlando, Jackson outlined four things he called the four flat tires in the American economy. And besides over-regulation and complex, too-high taxes, he said the nation’s refusal to pursue deals to open international trade, and its anti-immigration fervor are having profound effects slowing the economy.

Jackson, whose Fort Lauderdale company is the nation’s largest automotive retailer with dealerships in 15 states, said he is so upset that the anti-immigration and anti-trade deal positions have taken favor in the Republican Party that he recently quit the party to become an independent, and said he cannot support Trump.

“The Republican Party at the moment is unrecognizable from anything I’ve ever known,” Jackson said.

He was equally critical of Democrats, saying they are moving toward European-style socialism “at breakneck speed.” But said he would be supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton because he’s convinced she has less potential to do major damage.

He brought the house down by declaring, and illustrating with a cartoon, that Trump, in his view, is the “billionaire Archie Bunker” from the TV show “All In The Family,” while Clinton is the diabolically “cunning Claire Underwood” from “House Of Cards.”

But Jackson’s speech focused most passionately on the two issues he said are being misunderstood, the nation’s need to embrace immigrants, even those who came in illegally; and the nation’s need to greatly expand its trade deals worldwide.

Immigrants, he said, risk all to come to America and bring daring entrepreneurial spirits, as evidenced by a fact he cited — 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants.

Yet America has had net-outward immigration since President Barack Obama took office, and that is leading to shortages of labor, especially among people who really want to work hard and bring risk-taking entrepreneurial attitudes, he said.

“What made America great? Immigration,” Jackson said. “Yeah, things got a little out of control there for 15 years, before Barack Obama; we ended up with these 12 million undocumented people in the United States. But for the last eight years it’s actually been going the other way, more migration from the United States to Mexico than from Mexico to the United States.

“So if you build this wall, you’re trapping people in the United States,” he said, to howls of laughter.

Trade deals, he said, open the world. The reason so many companies have opened factories in Mexico, he argued, is not because NAFTA is unfair to the United States, but because Mexico, unlike the United States, followed up on NAFTA by signing additional trade deals with scores of other countries. Consequently, products made in Mexico can be shipped almost anywhere duty-free, while products made in the United States face stiff tariffs worldwide. The same is true of bringing in materials from other countries, he said.

“So eventually, car manufacturers said, ‘You know what? We’re going to Mexico.’ Everybody thinks its the cost of labor. That’s not it,” Jackson said. “It’s not because we have too many trade agreements. It’s because we don’t have enough trade agreements.

“It’s mind-boggling to me that both the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate are saying no to new trade deals. It’s unbelievable,” he said.


Marian Johnson: Donald Trump needs to get out white voters; Hillary Clinton, independent voters

The close presidential race in Florida offers two very different paths to victory for the candidates, with Donald Trump‘s campaign needing to bring out white voters and Hillary Clinton needing to appeal to independent voters, according to Florida Chamber of Commerce polling guru Marian Johnson.

Johnson laid out the latest findings of the chamber’s political polling Thursday night at the Future of Florida Forum in Orlando, showing Democrat Clinton with a two-point lead overall in a Sept. 16 survey, a five-point improvement for her since an Aug. 16 poll.

The polling shows both candidates are enormously unpopular, but both getting 78 percent of their party base. They’re fighting at this point over 6 percent of voters who declared they are undecided, said Johnson, the vice president for political operations for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson got 8 percent in the latest poll and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, 4 percent.

“This race is just too close to call,” she said at the chamber’s leadership banquet.

The two major candidates each have paths to victory, she said: Trump, who leads among white voters 51 to 34 percent, has to turn out white voters in the election. Clinton leads in almost every other demographic, but finds surprising strength among independent and third-party voters, leading Trump 45 to 25 percent in the chamber poll, she said.

But that does not include many young voters.

“There is no definitive direction. I can tell you Hillary is not getting the millennial vote. She is not going to get the millennial vote. They’ll just undervote,” Johnson said. “They don’t interpret her as being sincere. She says the right things to them, but they are not interpreting her as sincere at all.”

Chamber polling also showed voters down on both U.S. Senate candidates, Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and his Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, with both of them getting slightly more unfavorable than favorable ratings. Overall, Rubio holds a four-point advantage, 46 percent to 42 percent, and Johnson predicted Rubio would win, though she added that it is a race “that is probably going to go down to the wire too.”

All Florida Constitution amendment issues on the ballot appear to be passing.

Amendment 1, dealing with solar energy, is getting 66 percent approval and just 18 percent disapproval. Amendment 2, medical marijuana, has 73 percent approval and 23 percent disapproval. Amendment 3, tax exemptions for disabled first responders, has 85 percent support. Constitutional changes need 60 percent of the vote to pass.

Johnson said there appears to be little change in the wind in the makeup of the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives. So many seats already have been decided, and so few are in play, she said. Republicans certainly will retain control of both houses.

Another finding of the polls indicates Floridians are feeling better about themselves and their futures. 39 percent now say they are better off than before and another 37 percent, “about the same.” That means only 24 percent feel they are worse off, a strong improvement over recent years.

Gov. Rick Scott is benefiting from that, as voters now believe he’s doing a good job. His job performance approval now is positive by 10 points, even though voters still do not like him personally, with a slight majority still having an unfavorable opinion of him.


Joe Biden to campaign in Florida for Hillary Clinton Monday

Vice President Joe Biden will campaign for Hillary Clinton Monday with stops in Sarasota and Orlando, her campaign announced Thursday.

No details specifying where or when have yet been announced.

The campaign said Biden will lay out the stakes of November’s election and highlight Clinton’s vision for America. The Democrat with a working-class background will argue she is offering an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.

Florida DOC denies trying to shut down Bridges of America center

The Florida Department of Corrections came under fire earlier this week when Bridges of America, who partner with them to help inmates rehabilitate into the world, accused them of trying to shut down their off-site transition center on Mercy Drive.

But according to the FDOC, the Bridges of America’s alarm, while rooted in good intent, is misguided. FDOC Communications Director Michelle Glady said the explanation was simple: Bridges of America’s contract with them expired, as contracts do, and the FDOC put out a request for proposals (RFP) to get a new contractor to help with their inmate transition programs.

The problem was, Bridges of America didn’t like some of the changes in the new proposal, which reflect the FDOC’s new priorities with the program.

“They’re welcome to bid on the proposal,” Glady said. “If they did, it may change things for them. That would be the decision they have to make. They’re a business. They’re currently protesting it — that has to be resolved before we move forward with this process.”

She said they were absolutely not trying to shut anything down or put prisoners on the streets, however, even though the new model wouldn’t involve the transition beds Bridges of America utilizes.

“It’s not a radically different model or a big cost saving,” she said. “We don’t want to shut anyone down, that’s a total misconception. The RFP just looks different than the current contract Bridges has.”

FDOC Press Secretary Alberto Moscoso says under the FDOC’s new program, things will apparently improve. Right now, they pay 60 percent of their substance abuse treatment dollars on the least-likely, and smallest, population to return to prison. That’s $15.5 million for approximately 688 beds, he wrote.

But they spend only $10.9 million for 2,500 in-prison treatment beds, which also has a much higher rate of completion for a quarter of the cost, he wrote.

“FDC can treat four times as many individuals for the same amount of money,” Moscoso said.

The new program they’re looking to start would allow inmates to complete a program involving substance abuse treatment, if necessary, and vocational or academic training. Then they’d be transferred to a paid employment bed in the community.

In addition, the new program would also increase paid employment beds and allow inmates to keep more of their earned money from work-release programs — the new program would allow them to keep 70 percent of their earned wages, while Bridges of America’s program only allows 55 percent.

In addition, Moscoso addressed one of the most pertinent criticisms of the proposed change — the assertion of many community leaders that the FDOC wanted to end the transition center program and put inmates back in work programs inside the prison walls. This, he wrote, was inaccurate.

“No one in the current Orlando Bridge program will be sent ‘back’ to prison,” Moscoso wrote. “All individuals currently serving their sentence in community transition beds will remain in community programs.”

Jerry Demings urges state to keep open community facilities

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings Tuesday urged state officials to reconsider their decision to close community-based transition centers.

Demings, a Democrat seeking re-election this fall, was responding to reports that the Florida Department of Corrections intends to close the Orlando Transition Center and others around that state, eliminating 688 community-based substance abuse treatment beds.

“Research indicates that this method of treatment has been effective at reducing recidivism for offending and drug use,” Demings said in a statement issued Tuesday. “Placing low-level offenders back behind prison walls increases the cost to Florida taxpayers of substance abuse treatment and incarceration of offenders. Secondly, a lower recidivism rate results in reduced crime. Conversely, an increase in recidivism results in increased crime.”

Demings’ opposition to the state plan echoes that made yesterday in press conference organized by Bridges of America, an Orlando-based nonprofit, and involving ex-cons and a bipartisan gathering of elected officials such as state Reps. Randolph Bracy, Victor Torres, Mike Miller, Eric Eisnaugle, and Bob Cortes.

Demings faces Republican Spike Hopkins in the Nov. 8 election.

Demings cited various studies and argued the “theraputic community-based” model has proven successful.

“It is for these reasons I urge the Florida Department of Corrections to rethink the proposed change,” he said.

In a press release issued last week, DOC Secretary Julie Jones said the intent was to use the money to treat more prisoners, rather than focus on those who need the least treatment, and that a pilot project called SPECTRUM would be used to look at new ways to do that.

“Our top priority is to prepare our inmate and offender populations for successful lives in the community where they serve as productive members of society,” she stated in the release.

Tim Kaine focuses on immigration, economy in address to Hispanic faith leaders in Orlando

Democratic vice presidential nominee and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine told a small gathering of Hispanic faith leaders in Orlando that Hillary Clinton’s priorities for them include immigration reform, a fairer economy and respect.

His 15-minutes worth of public comments focused on the three areas where the Democrats feel they have an appeal advantage. And that included a hint for how the Clinton campaign portrays Trump’s attitude toward Hispanics.

“We need to build a community of respect, a community where all are respected,” said Kaine, who spoke in both English and Spanish

Kaine’s visit to the Iglesia El Calvario church in Orlando was his third of five Florida stops, and firsts of three in Orlando, this week. He began in Miami and Lakeland, and will appear at a debate watch party Monday evening thrown by the LGBT-rights Human Rights Campaign Monday night, and at a small get-out-the-vote rally at a Hillary For Florida office Tuesday morning.

Whether the gathering of 30 or 40 faith leaders from around the country, some but not all part of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition [plus Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson] may have heard what they wanted at the faith roundtable is unclear. After Kaine’s opening remarks, journalists were kicked out for the back-and-forth discussions that were to follow.

The Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, told him the leaders wanted to hear about immigration reform and the economy but also were interested in issues including criminal justice reform, policing, sexual orientation and education equality.

Regarding immigration reform, Kaine said, “I hope that what will happen in this election is voters will look at two very different philosophies regarding immigration. Hillary and I offer comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship… keeping families together.”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s philosophy, he said, is based on “mass deportation.”




State, local officials join ex-prisoners to protest proposed closing Bridges of America center

A group of state and local elected officials, as well as reformed ex-prisoners who know firsthand what the Bridges of America Orlando Transition Center can do, appeared Monday morning to protest the possible closing of the center by the Florida Department of Corrections.

The center is being considered for closure due to what Bridges of America presumed was budgetary constraints.

But years of results have shown the center to cost taxpayers less money and reduce recidivism, it asserted at Monday’s news conference.

If the center is closed, the inmates in the program would have to operate out of the prison itself.

At Monday’s news conference, reformed ex-prisoners Jeffery Vannocker, James Rogers and Jacob Deibler made an impassioned, emotional appeal as to why the current center at 2001 Mercy Drive is ideal — and why the program worked, through sharing their stories.

“Being at this program helped me in so many ways,” Vannocker said. “It was able to open my mind artistically, I did a lot of family days, and they got me into work releases and an excellent job. The counselors helped me with anger management, criminal thinking errors, stuff along those lines. When I got back into the real world, it helped me get ready for society, and the pressures you’re not used to being incarcerated.”

He said one of the most memorable experiences he had with the center was seeing his daughter on Christmas one year after initially not being allowed to.

“I was afforded the opportunity to learn quite a bit about myself, and why I was acting and behaving the way I was,” Rogers said. “Learning came through the process of group therapy, receiving feedback from peers, and one on one counseling, receiving feedback from counselors who not only had been there before, but also were educated to help us understand the reasons for our criminality and substance abuse.”

Deibler said the program at the center was a simulation of sorts to what it’s like to being in normal society.

“There’s more freedom here,” he said. “It’s a place where my thoughts can be heard, where I can put to practice my philosophies. I can make a difference within the community. There’s responsibility, personal and collective responsibility. The thawing process from prison took more than a year to remedy. They make you dig deep and identify thinking patterns, help you cleanse your soul. It’s not easy. It’s not painless.”

Deibler said it was “monstrous” for the FDOC to consider closing down the center, especially under the pretense of saving money.

“Now we’re free men, and we’re taxpayers,” he said. “The state already makes money off our investment.”

State legislators Randolph Bracy, Victor Torres, Mike Miller, Eric Eisnaugle and Bob Cortes also appeared, joining City of Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill and County Commissioner Bryan Nelson. All were fiercely opposed to the idea of closing the Bridges to America center.

Hill, in particular, delivered a fiery defense of the program, accusing the FDOC of wanting to “throw inmates behind prison walls and then throw them in the streets,” and saying it would be impossible for inmates to “stop thinking like criminals” if the Bridges of America program was closed.

“What type of society are we living in, when we’re talking about second chances, 21st century policing, re-entry, but we’re not walking the walk?” she asked.

In a news release issued Monday, FDOC Secretary Julie Jones stated the department wasn’t looking to sever ties with Bridges of America, but rather inviting them to participate in new efforts to combat recidivism and substance abuse on wider scales. Jones cited the FDOC’s new Spectrum program as an example.

“This is an exciting time for FDC and I want to make it very clear that we are not limiting services or the number of individuals served,” she wrote. “If fact, we are soliciting bids for a contract in Orange County that increases the number of work release beds and substance abuse care. Today, more than 60 percent of the Department’s substance use disorder budget is dedicated to treating only a small number of individuals. We know we can do better. We want to provide more services to treat an even greater number of individuals with the same resources.”

Jones goes on to state that every action the department takes is “strategic and advances our mission to serve Florida’s most challenging population by offering them the greatest chance to succeed.”

Tim Kaine to watch debate in Orlando, attend Orlando faith leaders meeting, Lakeland rally

Democratic vice presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine is going to watch the presidential debate at a watch party in downtown Orlando Monday night.

Kaine also will be meeting earlier with Orlando-area Hispanic faith leaders in a round table discussion.

The debate watch party will be held at Orlando’s Church Street Station. It will be open to the public, though RSVPs are required through the Hillary For America website. He’ll be using that site to watch the debate between his running mate Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump. Doors open at 6 p.m.

The faith roundtable discussion will take place at 4 p.m. at Iglesia El Calvario, 2500 West Oak Ridge Rd. It will be his third Florida appearance in 24 hours, after speeches in Miami Sunday evening and Lakeland Monday morning. In Lakeland he’ll be appearing at The Lakeland Center at 12:15 p.m., with doors opening to the public at 10:30. Reservations also are required for that event and can be obtained at the Hillary For America website.

This will be Kaine’s second visit to the Central Florida area. He gave a speech in Daytona Beach in early August.

Orlando facing prospect of all-freshman lineup in Congress

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown and her nearly 24 years in Congress – gone.

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson and his nearly six years in Congress – gone.

U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster and his nearly six years in Congress – gone, moved to an outside district.

U.S. Rep. John Mica and his nearly 24 years in Congress – more at risk than he’s faced in more than a decade.

This year, Orlando is losing most and potentially all its seniority, experience, leadership and clout in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Whoever gets elected, the voters’ choices for change may wind up being for the better. And in the long run, who knows, at this point, how effective the new class might become?

But at first it could be like replacing an entire college basketball team starting lineup with freshmen for the coming year. And it’s not about wins or losses. At least in the short term, it’s about attracting Washington’s attention to Central Florida’s needs and priorities, and about finding and bringing federal money for such discretionary goodies as transportation improvements, veterans’ facilities, military simulation center support, social services’ grants, and college and university research funding.

Might Central Florida’s next congressional starting line-up be able to compete?

“It certainly might have a big effect when you lose so many people who are established in Washington and have been serving this area for at least some time,” said University of Central Florida political scientist Aubrey Jewett. “How much it hurts will be determined by which party is in control of Congress. That’s going to play a big role.”

Technically, Orlando still has U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, the Rockledge Republican, assuming he wins re-election in Florida’s 8th Congressional District. But he’s always been first and foremost about the Space Coast, not the inland counties, though his district includes a sparsely-populated corner of Orange County.

Technically, Orlando may be picking up U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Flagler County Republican, whose newly-redrawn Florida’s 6th Congressional District, assuming he wins re-election, stretches into the northernmost Orlando suburbs in Volusia County. But his attention more likely would be focused east and north, from Daytona through St. Augustine, where his base always has been.

Technically, Orlando may be able to count on Webster, the Clermont Republican, assuming he wins re-election, because he’ll still be representing Orlando’s western-most suburbs in Lake County, if he’s elected in Florida’s 11th Congressional District. But he no longer has any responsibility toward Orlando voters. And any congressional clout Webster had was largely stripped away in 2015 anyway, after he first challenged John Boehner and then Paul Ryan for the house speakership. Insurgents who lose are not rewarded with shared power.

That leaves Mica, the Winter Park Republican who is the only Orlando-oriented member of Congress with a chance to still be in office next year. Suddenly he is getting a stiff challenge from Stephanie Murphy in a race the national Democrats are trying very hard to win, for Florida’s 7th Congressional District seat representing north Orange County and Seminole County. A poll commissioned by Democrats last week showed her in the margin of error against him.

Mica, first elected in 1992, is almost a poster child for how a member of Congress grows in power with seniority, key committee assignments, and longterm relationships, and using them to bring federal support for his district. SunRail, the Interstate 4 expansion, Orlando International Airport expansions, the Orlando Veterans Administration Medical Center, Orlando’s National Center for Simulation, and other Orlando projects have gotten federal approval and money, due in part to his his connections, and in part to his work with Brown, Grayson, and Webster, who had their own clout.

Mica makes congressional seniority and the power that comes with it a key part of his campaign message.

“I do have a senior position in Congress and because there are 435 members it takes many years to gain positions of importance,” he said.

Mica offers another advantage, as big brother to the new members of Congress. Orlando will have two freshmen for sure, either Democratic state Sen. Darren Soto or Republican businessman Wayne Liebnitzky in Grayson’s old Florida’s 9th Congressional District; and either Democratic former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings or retired businesswoman Thuy Lowe in Webster’s old Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Brown’s entire district is gone. First her district was pulled from Orlando in last year’s redistricting, then she lost her primary.

Statewide, there will be at least seven freshmen, out of 27 Florida members of Congress.

“If I’m re-elected one of the things I’m going to work with both Republicans and Democrats in my position – I’m fairly well respected – to help them get on committees that they want. Eventually they will benefit our community and our state, and of course our country too,” Mica said. “That’s one of my goals: to help place and mentor the new kids on the block.”

But there’s that word “if,” which seemed unnecessary and modest until recently, though Mica always says he never takes re-election for granted.

Mica also has political policy positions and records, particularly conservative views on social issues, which Murphy and the Democrats are portraying as out of step with the changing, younger, more diverse, more Democratic new CD 7, which covers much of north Orange County and all of Seminole County.

Murphy is asking voters to trade Mica’s seniority and experience for fresh ideas and more liberal policies. National Democrats are investing millions of dollars to help her knock off Mica. A recent poll – commissioned by Democrats – showed the race within the margin of error.

She also says that Congress simply doesn’t work anymore, adding that Mica votes with the Republican line 97 percent of the time. So his seniority is partisan, she said.

“I think seniority is important if you are willing to work across the aisle in a bipartisan manner and actually lead on issues,” she said.

She dismissed any notion that the next class of Orlando members of Congress would lack experience.

“I have deep experience in business, in national security and academia and I would be able to draw on those real-world experiences to bring fresh perspectives to Congress, and a willingness to work across the aisle to get things done,” Murphy said. “I’m excited about the prospect of having a trio of members of Congress representing the Orlando area who will be a powerhouse representing the area with fresh new ideas that actually represent the people as opposed to being very partisan.”

Meanwhile, Orlando leaders are bracing for changes that are likely to require them to start over in building relationships with member of Congress, whether Mica or Murphy wins. The lobbyists and institutional leaders across the region insist they play no political or partisan favorites – they just want someone they can talk to who can get things done.

“We’ve been very fortunate in terms of the team we have there, not just who’s there, but the length of them they’ve had there, and their abilities to be effective. I’m very mindful about the changes that might take place. I’ve had discussions with board members about what that might mean,” said Harry Barley, executive director of MetroPlan Orlando, Central Florida’s transportation planning agency.

He noted both Brown and Mica have had senior positions on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, saying, “They’ve worked well together over the years. I’m not sure they’ve agreed on anything other than transportation. But that’s been a very great team. They’ve both been very, very helpful to us.”

Michael Waldrop, chair of Orlando’s Veterans Advisory Council, said the issue is making sure the new members of Congress are willing to work together to forward veterans’ and defense concerns, which he said must be non-partisan matters.

“You would hope a newer delegation that represents us in Central Florida realizes this and if they can work together on any one or two topics then it is the defense of our nation nd supporting our veteran community,” he said.

UCF Senior Vice President Dan Holsenbeck, who has overseen the university’s lobbying for decades, said there is reason to be concerned, but ultimately reasons to be hopeful.

“Seniority is the way you get a principal voice in budgeting, the way you get access to make meaningfully comments on policy,” Holsenbeck said. “So if you lose your seniority in the eleciton, then it does have a significant impact on policy and budgeting, on persuasion opportunities.”

But, he added, new relationships eventually lead to new opportunities.

“We’ve done very well over the years, our president and others, to build new relationships,” he said. “That would be our challenge, to build new relationships of trust and support for UCF.”

Pride Fund endorses Linda Stewart, Beth Tuura and Carlos Guillermo Smith in state races

A fairly new organization combining gay rights and gun law concerns that was inspired into existence by the June 12 Pulse massacre in Orlando, the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC, has endorsed Linda Stewart, Beth Tuura and Carlos Guillermo Smith in state races.

All the endorsements have gone to Democrats.

Stewart is running for Florida Senate District 13 against Republican nominee Dean Asher. Tuura is running for Florida House District 47 against incumbent Republican state Rep. Mike Miller. Guillermo Smith is running in Florida House District 49 against independent candidate Shea Silverman.

“We support these exceptional candidates because each of them has demonstrated steadfast commitment to equality for all citizens, and a work ethic that values the voices of constituents over the distortion of reality by the gun lobby,” Jason Lindsay, founder and Executive Director of Pride Fund, stated in a news release. “Floridians support common sense gun reforms, especially since the horror in Orlando, and they deserve representation in Tallahassee who will fight for the values and safety of American families over those of corporate gun manufacturers.”

The trio declared such in the Pride Fund’s release.

Tuura and Smith both are openly gay. Stewart long has been recognized by Orlando’s and Florida’s LGBT community as an ally.

“The hatred, bigotry, and homophobia that still exists in Florida has turned deadly thanks to easy civilian access to military-style assault weapons. I will not rest until we enact common-sense gun safety measures to protect our communities from gun violence and keep our neighborhoods safe” Smith stated.

“Our legislators are elected to represent the will of the people, but once in office, they bend to the will of the NRA leadership. There is overwhelming support for sensible gun safety laws nationwide. It is time we act. I support passing common-sense gun reform. We need to implement universal background checks, restrict access to high-capacity weapons and magazines, and make sure hate-filled people with a history of violence can’t obtain a gun” Tuura stated.

“I will do everything I can to fight for the safety and dignity of this community. I will sponsor a bill to restrict assault-style weapons, and I will push for harsher penalties for hate crimes. After a decade of service, you should know I will stand up and will never be silent; I am with you and you are my family.” Stewart stated.

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