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 Jason@FloridaPolitics.com.
Today’s feature: Jessica Harrington, a Democratic candidate for House District 64.
In 25 words or less, why are you running for office?
I am running for office because everyday Floridians deserve to be represented by everyday Floridians. I am a school teacher that has seen the devastating effects that the divestment from public schools has had on children.I am running to save our schools and to fight for hardworking families.
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Florida.
I also attended the Educators Preparation Institute at Santa Fe College for my alternative teaching certification.
What was your first job?
I worked at the Wagon Wheel Flea Market when I was 14 on the weekends.
Significant other? Kids?
I am married to an amazing man from Dublin, Ireland. We do not currently have kids.
Did you speak with anybody in your political party before deciding on running? Receive any encouragement?
When I first ran for office in 2018, it was a very last minute decision. I filed right before the filing deadline because I was determined that my opponent would not go unchallenged ever again. With no time, no money, no campaign team, we over performed and came very close to flipping the seat. This time we are back to finish the job, and we have a lot of party support.
Who do you count on for advice?
My husband is who I always go to for advice. He is very good at looking at situations from all perspectives.
Who is your political consultant? Campaign manager?
Political Consultant is Parsons Wilson. My campaign manager is former Obama alum and powerhouse, Malanda Schmitz.
Who was the first person to contribute to your campaign? Why did they donate?
The first person that every contributed to my campaign was the founder of Surly Feminists for the Revolution, Erin Aebel. She is an amazing woman who supports other woman running for office.
Who, if anyone, inspires you in state government?
I am very inspired by Rep. Anna Eskamani. It’s refreshing to see someone in office that is young, authentic, and is not afraid to speak truth to power.
Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it?
Many people mistrust elected officials because many of them offer no communication or transparency. The are only out in the community during election time to get votes and then disappear. When I am elected, we will finally have a representative in District 64 that is cares about people. I will make sure that I am in constant communication with constituents. I will hold frequent office hours and town halls. I will truly represent the people. Something District 64 has never had.
What are 3 issues that you’re running on?
– Healthcare: We are going to expand medicaid and make sure that 800,000 more Floridians are insured.
– Education: We are going to raise teacher pay, as well as pay for public school employees. As of right now, only first year teacher are getting the pay increase. Not enough is being done for our experienced teachers. We are also going to end the funneling of money from our public schools to unaccountable for-profit schools.
– Unemployment: With Coronavirus, we have seen how disruptive having a broken system is. We need to make sure the system is streamlined to work for Floridians. We need to expand the amount of benefits and the number of weeks a person can collect those benefits.
What is a “disruptive” issue you are interested in?
I am interested in repealing arming teachers. I have a solution that will keep our schools safe, will not cost extra dollars, and will not require arming teachers.
What does your legislative district need from Tallahassee?
Someone who actually shows up for the community. When a majority of constituents in District 64 have no idea who their state representative is, that’s a problem.
Who was the best governor in Florida’s modern history?
This question really should be who has been the WORST governor in Florida’s modern history. I plead the fifth.
If you could amend the Florida Constitution, what would you change?
I would want to add an amendment to finally ratify the ERA in Florida. It’s time!
Are yard signs an important part of campaigning in your district?
Yes! Our supporters love to show that they support a “Teacher of the Year” running for office!
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
The Skimm – It’s a short and sweet newsletter in my email each morning with the biggest stories. It’s a great way to start the day.
Where do you get your political news?
I support my local NPR station and local newspaper.
Social media presence? Twitter handle?
We have a big social media presence!
In 280 characters, what’s a Tweet that best describes your campaign message?
We deserve a government that works for us all. When 44% of our state legislator is comprised of out of touch millionaires, you get a better understanding why Florida is at the bottom of the barrel in education and healthcare funding.
I am a pool shark! I played on a competitive team for many years, but had to give it up for the campaign. I have even competed in Las Vegas.
Favorite sport and sports team?
College Football is my favorite sport to watch. Of course I support my alma mater, The University of Florida! Go Gators!