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YOU DECIDE 2018: Learn about Osceola County Commissioner candidate Viviana Janer

Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2018 at 8:00 am

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 shown below.

Candidate name: Viviana Janer

Viviana Janer

Running for: County Commission Seat 2
Current position / occupation: County Commissioner
Party affiliation: Democrat

What are your top priorities if you’re elected?

More affordable housing options. Bringing good paying jobs for Osceola citizens and training for those jobs.
Top-notch public safety. I am proud to have been endorsed by the Police Benevolent Association and the Osceola firefighters.

What do you believe is the most challenging aspect of Osceola County’s continued growth?
We must make sure developers pay for the impact they have on roads and other county services. That is why after I was elected we reinstated mobility fees on developers. In addition, new homes must be of high quality and more compatible with the environment. That is why I am leading the charge for more solar power in new homes. We also must make sure there is affordable housing available for our working class and seniors. I successfully pushed for a $1 million fund to promote affordable options for our residents and Cameron Preserve affordable housing community is opening this month.

What role should the government play in making affordable housing more accessible for Osceola County residents?
Osceola has taken a number of steps from partnering with private developers to build affordable housing complexes to providing down-payment assistance to renters. Recently, I led the effort to put aside an additional $1 million to help provide more affordable housing.

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?
As a proud native of Puerto Rico, I was at the forefront of efforts to provide relief for our fellow American citizens from Puerto Rico seeking shelter after Maria. Osceola showed tremendous leadership by being one of the first in the state with a welcome center to guide them with their transition. Through partnerships, I secured food and water donations for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico that were flown to them after Maria. We will of course welcome those who choose to make Osceola their home and I will fight for them to receive their piece of the American Dream.

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?
I am proud to serve as the chairman of our Tourist Development Council and am amazed at all the activity that is currently taking place in Osceola. Tourists are coming to Osceola in record numbers and there is good reason for that! With over $2 billion in new development along West 192, Osceola is doing a great job attracting visitors who are spending more and staying longer.

What motivated you to run for this position?
During President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, I walked door to door for his campaign and had the pleasure of meeting my neighbors in District 2. Many were disappointed in their representation and were looking for a voice and encouraged me to run for public office. I felt that with my background in accounting and track record of community service, I could ensure public funds were spent wisely and with compassion, so I stepped up to the plate.

What experience do you bring?
I am the first Hispanic woman to serve as an Osceola County commissioner and was proud to serve as the chairman of the commission. Currently, I am the chairwoman of the Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission (i.e. SunRail) and the chairwoman of the Tourist Development Council (TDC). I also serve on MetroPlan Orlando, LYNX, the Lynx Oversight Board, and the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council.
I was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, and raised in New York City. I earned a bachelor of business administration degree with a major in public accounting and later a master of business administration with academic honors. I have more than 20 years of experience in corporate accounting.
But the most important experience I bring is my relationship with the citizens of district 2. I believe listening to people is the best experience a commissioner can bring to the job.

What is the biggest obstacle facing Osceola County’s future and what role should local government play in solving it?
The biggest issue facing our community and others is having high paying jobs. That is why I am proud that we have invested in training and education. Osceola has helped to fund the Footsteps to Brilliance app that works at getting our youngest ready for school and reading. We have partnered with Valencia to build a new campus in Poinciana, and the Advance Manufacturing Training Facility. But our biggest investment has been in the BRIDG, a partnership with UCF that focuses on research and development of high tech sensors. These investments will help to give all the citizens in our community the opportunities of tomorrow.