The Osceola News-Gazette believes it’s important for our readers to learn more about the local candidates wishing to represent them.
In the days leading up to the Aug. 28 primaries, we will run responses from candidates running for the following local public offices – Osceola County Commission, Kissimmee City Commission, St. Cloud City Council and the Osceola County School Board.
All candidates running these races were emailed questions a few weeks ago, and
responses from those who met our deadline are published.
Occupation: Local business owner, retired veteran
What are your top priorities if you’re elected?
My top priorities are to grow our business sector, gain reasonable control of our growth, and avert a possible water and sewage crisis.
What do you believe is the most challenging aspect of St. Cloud’s continued growth?
That we are not keeping up with our business sector. To be a functional and prosperous city we need to have about 30 percent of our developed land as commercial. Currently, the city is closer to about 5 to 7 percent.
What role should the government play in making affordable housing more accessible for St. Cloud residents?
A minimal one – homes increase in price when the government gets involved. This could be an increase in building cost, permitting for repairs, or permitting for additions. We also see many people displaced when things like affordable housing or rent caps are implemented. This causes middle-class families to have a hard time finding a place to live because they may not be poor enough to qualify for low-income housing but still make too little to afford to live anywhere else. We need to make it easier for our middle-class families to live and work not harder.
Thousands of Hurricane Maria evacuees arrived in Osceola County last year. Many have since said they intend to stay in the area. What role do you see these citizens playing in Osceola County’s future and what role should government play in assisting evacuees with this transition?
The same roles that the rest of us are playing, that of an Osceola County resident. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, everyone simply wants to work and put a roof over their family’s head. Why would it be different for someone coming from somewhere else? As for government, we can’t pick winners and losers based on race. We need to offer our current residents the same benefits as anyone else that moves here. This becomes a problem when we delve into assistance programs because there is simply not enough money to be handed out to everyone that asks. Rather, I’d like to see work on job training programs and working with non-profits to assist with things like English classes and anything else that could help our friends from the south live a normal life here.
When it comes to the tourism industry, what can local government do to attract new business investments and opportunities while still addressing the needs of current residents?
We can start by getting out of the way and laying the red carpet for our small local businesses as well as those coming in. We need to make it as easy and quick as possible for people to open their doors within the city. Every day a person has to wait for a stamp, sticker, or signature is another day without income and a higher chance of failing. St. Cloud has a history of not being very business friendly – I’m here to change that.
What motivated you to run for this position?
I actually ran once before, and what motivated me then is what motivates me today. I wasn’t very involved up until our city wanted to pass the Fire Tax. I stood with everyone else and we were able to stop it from passing. I want to be able to continue doing that. Standing side by side with my fellow residents and saying no to bad ideas.
What experience do you bring?
I have no political experience, I am however the director of the Indian Lakes HOA, as well as the Vice-Chair of my local political party.
I am a combat veteran and will bring my training with me. I was instilled with a sense of integrity, pride and patriotism that will not allow me to a fault once I win. My beautiful family keeps me humble and my friends will be sure to keep me honest.
What is the biggest obstacle facing Osceola County’s future and what role should local government play in solving it?
There are so many that it’s hard to choose just one. Most people don’t want to hear the problems going on, whether it’s homelessness, traffic, our budgets, public sector waste, or our environment. They do exist though, and we need to figure out ways that will solve the issue while not intruding in the lives and pocketbooks of our residents.