Nearly 250 candidates are vying for state House and state Senate seats in 2020. Try as we will, Florida Politics can’t interview all of them.
Just like in 2016 and 2018, we’re again asking every candidate 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 [email protected].
Today’s feature: Morey Wright, a Democratic candidate for House District 104.
In 25 words or less, why are you running for office?
I’m running to listen to the concerns and ideas of the people in District 104 and to go to Tallahassee to bring home solutions.
– Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Florida.
– Master of Arts in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University.
– Master of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University.
What was your first job?
My first job as a teenager was Cultural Ambassador. My maternal family owns a 200-acre private island in the British Virgin Islands called Salt Island. The island is called Salt Island because it has a pond that produces natural salt. The island in its original form from 100 years ago without power and development. My family made their livelihood up to the late 90’s selling salt. During holiday breaks, I would spend long weekends on Salt Island helping my grandmother and great grandmother harvest and sell salt to locals and give tours to tourists. My great grandmother was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of England for being ambassadorial on Salt Ssland. That job taught me how to understand, connect and serve people from different cultures.
Significant other? Kids?
No wife and kids, which means I can allocate all my time to the people of district 104.
Did you speak with anybody in your political party before deciding on running? Receive any encouragement?
Running for office wasn’t in my immediate plans. I decided to run for office because my mom lost her health insurance while battling breast cancer and I wanted to fight to expand access to affordable healthcare. As a graduate student, I did research on the Florida Legislature and learned that the Republican-led legislature had rejected Medicaid expansion with the Obama Care. If our state had accepted this legislature, my mom would have qualified. I didn’t want almost 1 million Floridians and their families who would have qualified for Medicaid to go through the same strain on resources as my family did. It was an open seat and I firmly believe we should be the change we want to see.
Who do you count on for advice?
I count on the advice of voters. I’ve touched close to 10,000 doors and listened to the ideas and concerns of hundreds of people in our district. It was Mrs. Eleanor, senior citizen residing at Century Village who asked me for a ride where I learned they needed more bus transportation in their retirement community. It was Mrs. Jackson, a retired teacher whose door I knocked on who told me we need to pay teachers more and build more affordable housing so her granddaughter, a teacher, can live close by. It was Mr. Lenny, a small business owner of a Caribbean restaurant in Pembroke Pines who told me that he was going out of business after 12 years because he applied for the small business pandemic loan and didn’t get approved. The best advice doesn’t come from consultants or campaigner managers; the best advice comes from voters.
Who was the first person to contribute to your campaign? Why did they donate?
My dad was the first person to contribute to my campaign. After returning home from serving in the military in the 80’s, he made the trek from New York to Pembroke Pines. He has been an entrepreneur (real estate, home building, and contracting) in our community for over 30 years. He has contributed and witnessed the growth of this community. He knew the personal reason I was running, and he knew that I was more than capable. However, before he wrote me a check, he wanted to know my economic vision. I told him I envision our district becoming “Silicon Glades”, the state’s leading tech-hub that attracts digital companies of the future and in turn creates high paying jobs which will maintain the high property values. He loved the bold vision and wrote my first campaign check.
Who, if anyone, inspires you in state government?
I admire all the essential state workers who have kept our government running through this COVID-19 pandemic. These extraordinary people are the real heroes of state government.
Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it?
I think people mistrust the “corporatization” of elected officials. They see elected officials as servants to big corporations and special interests and career politicians who jump from seat to seat for personal ambition. Lincoln said that ” government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from this earth.” However today people feel that it is “government of the elites, by the elites, for the elites” and have a fundamental belief that government of the people by the people and for the people is slowly perishing. Hence there is a huge distrust and disdain for elected officials. Perhaps this is why we have seen a surge in political insiders being elected. Perhaps people see outsiders as “of the people.” Interestingly, our district has a history of giving chances to political newcomers for this seat. In the 90s, they gave a chance to a 25-year old Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and in the 00’s they gave a chance to passionate and energetic 29-year old Marty Kiar. And even the current term-limited representative didn’t have a political background when he was first elected. When I’m elected, I’m going to always work in the interest of the people of District 104 and always remember that my position as an elected official is to use government as a catalyst to improve the lives of the people that elected me.
What are the 3 issues that you’re running on?
– Increase Funding Education: Our district has some of the best public schools in Florida. However, as a state, we are ranked 46th out of 50 states in teacher’s pay. I want to increase pay for teachers and support staff. I also want to increase funding for more mental health services and STEM education to prepare our kids for the jobs of the future.
– Expand Access to Affordable Healthcare: Our state has over $5 billion sitting on the table but more importantly close to 1 million Floridians without health care. Kansas, which is more conservative than Florida recently expanded Medicaid, it’s time for us to do the same to make sure 800,000 plus Floridians (even more after this Covid-19 pandemic) have access to healthcare. I will fight hard to expand access to affordable healthcare.
– Advocate for Small Business Funding & Seniors Citizen Services– Small Businesses and Seniors have been drastically affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. As I walk around our community, I see many businesses closing. One of my first priorities will be to increase the funding program for the state’s small business grant program and make sure those who really need it have access to it. We have a large retirement population in our district, and even before the pandemic, there wasn’t enough bus transportation. Now, with social distancing rules, buses have to carry fewer passengers. As the next State Representative, I will make sure I bring home funding for senior transportation.
What is a “disruptive” issue you are interested in?
My disruptive issue is a “Data Fund.” Our state should find a way to monetize the sale of Floridians data by big tech corporations (Facebook, Google, Amazon, Zoom). These big tech companies collect, use and sell our data for free. This would be a “Sadowski Fund” for education. Sadowski collects from doc stamps and this would collect from the sale of our data from corporations to corporations.
What does your legislative district need from Tallahassee?
Our district needs Tallahassee to:
– Fix the broken unemployment system: There are thousands of people who lost their jobs due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and need their unemployment benefits to provide for their families.
– Increase funding for education, seniors’ services and small businesses: We need increased funding to increase pay for teachers & support staff. Senior citizens need more transportation and food delivery programs. Small businesses need more low-interest loans and grants.
– Respect home rule: We have three different cities with unique cultures and structures. Tallahassee needs to allow cities to enact laws without preemption.
– Affordable housing: Many young people, teachers, cops, firefighters, grandparents, and essential workers want to live close to family members and work but can’t afford housing in our district.
– Protect the environment: Our district borders the Everglades and our community depends on it for water supply.
Who was the best governor in Florida’s modern history?
My favorite is Lawton Chiles. He walked from Pensacola to Key West and engaged with the people. There is something special about interacting with people on an everyday basis in their natural element. He represented “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
If you could amend the Florida Constitution, what would you change?
I would increase minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Are yard signs an important part of campaigning in your district?
Yard signs allow voters to show their support.
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
The first thing I read is a scripture from the Bible. Then I read the Sun-Sentinel for local news, CNN for national news, and the BBC for international news.
Where do you get your political news?
Of course, Florida Politics for state political news and a slew of other sources for national political news.
Social media presence? Twitter handle?
In 280 characters, what’s a Tweet that best describes your campaign message?
Our state is at a crossroads and COVID-19 has shown how our leaders have failed to prepare. Let’s be candid, at this critical juncture, the same old political insiders with the same old ideas are not going to move us forward. Now is the time for a new generation of leadership.
Traveling, running, reading and swimming.
Favorite sport and sports team?
I was a sports fanatic growing up. I actually taught myself how to understand every sport by age 13. As a result, I have an equal liking for all sports. I watch everything: basketball, baseball, football, futbol (soccer), tennis, golf, hockey, cricket and many more. My favorite teams are Miami Heat, Miami Dolphins, Florida Panthers, New York Yankees, F.C. Barcelona and the West Indies cricket club.