« Back to the list of Candidates

During an emergency such as a hurricane or a public health crisis, there is not only a need to focus planning and response efforts on disability-specific aspects of the emergency, but also to seek the input and expertise of people with disabilities in the process. If elected, how would your office work to ensure that state emergency planning (i.e., health testing, sheltering and safety of congregate living populations, et cetera) is inclusive of Florida’s disability communities? How will you work to ensure that communications and other information from the state is accessible to people with disabilities?

I would contact and work with local agencies assisting people with disabilities to gain an understanding of what's necessary for the particular challenge being faced. Suggestions would be forwarded and advocated for to relevant departments. I will watch to ensure communications are provided in accessible formats (closed captioning, ASL, etc) and insist on correcting any mistakes.

In the event that the global pandemic lasts through the current school year or possibly beyond, how would you work with state educational officials to ensure that relevant state and federal educational guarantees for students with disabilities are adhered to, and do you believe that it is possible to appropriately educate students with disabilities remotely or through virtual education?

Legislation dealing with school funding and policy must include accommodations for students with disabilities. I'd consult with constituents to find the gaps and advocate for solutions to close them.

In recent years, the state legislature has devoted much attention to the issue of mental health service delivery and crisis response systems in state public schools. In your opinion, how should the state work to ensure that the mental health needs of its students are met, and what reforms are needed to provide adequate mental health and crisis response services in our schools? When, if ever, is it appropriate for schools to initiate involuntary examinations for its students under the Florida Mental Health Act (“the Baker Act”)?

First and foremost we must actually attract mental health professionals to this state. There are simply not enough professionals here to do the job and meet the mandate from the state legislature. Schools should only initiate involuntary examinations with the consent of a guardian and/or professional and only after other options are exhausted.

It has become apparent that COVID-19 spreads most easily in institutional and congregate living arrangements. If elected, how would you work to prevent the unnecessary institutionalization of persons with disabilities and reduce other forms of congregate living in favor of serving persons with disabilities in their own homes or the community both during and after the current pandemic? What will you do to ensure that people with psychiatric disabilities are afforded the services they need to succeed in their own homes and communities and avoid psychiatric hospitalization?

Providing funding for in home care and alternative solutions is essential in normal times, let alone a pandemic. This also goes back to ensuring there are enough mental health professionals in the state to provide services.

Even before the pandemic began and massive job losses ensued, 2.7 million Floridians were uninsured. Research shows that under normal circumstances the uninsured have much greater challenges accessing health care, and these disparities are exacerbated during a health crisis. Do you support expanding the state’s Medicaid program to cover adults (19-64) with income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to provide more than 800,000 Floridians with coverage? Why or why not? Do you support proposals to utilize a “block grant” or “per capita cap” approach to contain Medicaid spending? Why or why not?

Yes I absolutely support expanding Medicaid for the basic fact that we cannot move forward as a society while so many don't have access to basic medical care without going bankrupt. I would support a per capita cap to prevent arbitrary restrictions to programming.

Despite the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA) and related state and federal laws, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities continues to be much higher than that of people without disabilities. If elected, how would you work to promote meaningful opportunities for supported employment and competitive, integrated employment of people with disabilities in the state? What policies do you advocate to support the academic and career success of students with disabilities, especially for students from historically marginalized communities and backgrounds?

Tax incentives for businesses who hire people with disabilities would go a long way in my opinion. Increased funding to hire additional support for students with disabilities is key. I would work with local groups to figure out the specifics of what's needed.

Nationwide it is believed that there are more than 750,000 people with disabilities who are incarcerated, and many of these individuals face substantial barriers to reentry when they complete their sentences and return home. What reforms do you support to ensure that returning citizens with disabilities have the resources, skills and mental health supports to succeed when they complete their sentences?

Many times people with disabilities are incarcerated when they shouldn't be so a lot of the solution to this issue starts beforehand. That being said increased access to career training and mental health services while still incarcerated will help a great deal once they are released. In addition making sure people have a place to go after being released is key for everyone to have the best chance of not returning to prison.

What is your experience working with people with disabilities or alongside disability-led organizations? Please provide examples of your experience addressing and responding to disability issues or describing disability advocacy efforts you have participated in either personally, professionally, or while in elected office if applicable. If elected, how would you integrate the input and perspectives of people with disabilities in your office’s planning and legislative efforts?

I don't have a great deal of direct experience working with people with disabilities but am a big believer in the idea that everyone has a gift to offer the world. I am in favor of policies that help people find their best selves and in working directly with stakeholders to not just generate ideas but see them through to completion. I will have regular opportunities to connect with constituents and will proactively reach out to organizations to get perspectives and feedback.