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: Heather Hunter, a Democratic candidate for Senate District 7.
In 25 words or less, why are you running for office?
I want to reverse the past agenda of prioritizing corporate profits over people and be a voice for the underrepresented in District 7.
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Minor in Pre-law.
What was your first job?
CiCi’s Pizza I was only there for 3 days…. It didn’t work out. I then went on to work at the information desk at Flagler College, my alma mater.
Significant other? Kids?
None and none.
Did you speak with anybody in your political party before deciding on running? Receive any encouragement?
I spoke with the President of the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida, Janelle Christensen, for several weeks before deciding on running in District 7 against Travis Hutson. She has been very helpful during the foundation of the campaign and is a great person to turn to for advice. After interning under Janelle, she and many of my former colleagues from the Florida College Democrats strongly pushed for me to run for office.
Who do you count on for advice?
My campaign manager and best friend Josh Trickey. He has been very helpful during this whole process.
Who is your political consultant? Campaign manager?
My campaign manager is Josh Trickey.
Who was the first person to contribute to your campaign? Why did they donate?
My campaign manager Josh Trickey. He wanted to show me how much he believed in our campaign and literally put his money where his mouth was.
Who, if anyone, inspires you in state government?
Rep. Anna Eskamani has been a progressive champion fighting for the people her entire time in office, especially during this pandemic. Her advocacy for working people and her authenticity are truly inspiring.
Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it?
Most people are right to mistrust their elected officials. The majority are bought by corporations and special interests and do not fight for or respond to the needs of the people. Travis Hutson alone has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from some pretty nasty corporations including Disney, Walmart, The Koch Brothers, Private Prisons, just to name a few.
I want to change the status quo because it isn’t working for the working people of Florida. 2.8+ million are uninsured, 900,000+ are waiting for unemployment benefits, and 45% of Floridians struggled to pay their bills last year. There is no justification for this failed system. I’m running to change the system and therefore, I’m not playing by their rules. I’m refusing to take all corporate money and I want to ban all corporate money in politics so that the people can take back their government from these corporations.
What are 3 issues that you’re running on?
– Expanding the federally funded Medicaid Expansion to give 800,000 Floridians healthcare and pumping $14 billion into our economy and building towards Medicare-For-All.
– Creating a new unemployment system that works and ensure that the 900,000+ Floridians waiting for benefits receive all payments since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the state in March.
– Expanding environmental protections. Ensuring Floridians have a right to clean air and water and ensuring that Florida is carbon negative by 2030. I have signed the Green New Deal Pledge and the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge.
– My campaign also plans to invest $1 billion into education. We want to raise teacher’s minimum salary to $50,000 and improve our school infrastructure which is currently given a D+ by the American Society of Engineers to an A rating.
What is a “disruptive” issue you are interested in?
One innovative plan my campaign has laid out is our plan for a high-speed rail system that mirrors Florida’s interstate system, powered by green energy. Our campaign plans on partnering with Virgin Trains, a company that has already broken ground on a high-speed rail system in southern Florida. Our partnership and public investment into a statewide rail system would have strings attached.
First, we would require strict environmental standards and labor standards to ensure workers are allowed to unionize and are paid a living wage while also protecting local communities from pollution. Our public investment would also yield us a stake in the railway system where the state of Florida and therefore Floridian residents would become shareholders. This would allow the state to create a program similar to a UBI as we would require every Floridian resident be paid a dividend for their investment into the company.
What does your legislative district need from Tallahassee?
We need healthcare, unemployment benefits, and environmental protection. No one in District 7 should die because they can’t afford healthcare. No one in District 7 should worry about paying their light bill or buying food because they have been waiting since March for their unemployment benefits. No one in District 7 should be flooded out of their house as sea level rise threatens up to 50% of buildings in some District 7 cities such as Flagler Beach.
Who was the best governor in Florida’s modern history?
We have not been impressed by any modern Florida governor in terms of their dedication to fighting for working people. However, we hope to see this in a future Florida governor.
If you could amend the Florida Constitution, what would you change?
We would change Article 1. Section 6. about the so-called “right to work”. In this section, the Constitution explicitly states that “Public employees shall not have the right to strike.” We believe all workers should be able to unionize and strike to demand better wages and treatment from their employers. We would amend the constitution to empower public workers and restore their labor rights that never should have been infringed upon.
Are yard signs an important part of campaigning in your district?
Yes, they are an important way to boost our name recognition around our district. We are currently in the process of making some.
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
My Twitter feed.
Where do you get your political news?
From independent grassroots funded news sources.
Social media presence? Twitter handle?
Twitter – @HeatherForSD7
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/heatherhunter4sd7/
In 280 characters, what’s a Tweet that best describes your campaign message?
We are running a people powered campaign to take back our government from the rich and powerful corporations and the politicians on their payroll. We will provide healthcare, jobs, and education to all Floridians.
I’m currently learning Mandarin.
Favorite sport and sports team?
US Women’s Soccer Team.