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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?

Since I cared for a spouse for more than 20 yrs with MS I know there are things that must be considered when planning for emergencies. I will step in and be sure that those people caring for people with disabilities are heard and handled accordingly.

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?

Each case is different and needs to be handled on a case by case basis. The local schools know their needs. I will work hard to ensure that the funding is available to them. Either from remote learning or on-site. Their education is important also.

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”)?

The State should be sure by whatever means that the mental health services are delivered to each student. Mental Health Crisis response is the responsibility of Law Enforcement. As a former SRO there were special occasions where I needed to and implemented “the Baker Act”

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?

We are still working through the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no reason to deny or short change individuals with disabilities, psychiatric or otherwise their access to proper health care. There are ways to help them from home and organization that are set up and equipped to help. I sit on the board of such an organization.

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?

Especially during the pandemic we need to open a way to ensure that those who are in need of medical care receive it and be willing as a state organization to require deferments to providers and allow those in need not to neglect their health for financial purposes.

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?

First as an employer I have and will continue to hire those who are able with limited ability to work. If you can in any way work for self esteem and independence I will fight to incentivize employers to hire individuals with disabilities. This is a way to advocate for academic and career success

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?

We need to better our training to help those who have been incarcerated to enter a workforce. Far to long we have laid the burden on them without the resources to allow them to engage in re-entering the workforce. We need better follow up with more engagement to making those returning more successful.

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 was married to my spouse who had MS. For 20 of our 36 years I became her caregiver. I know first hand what it’s like to work in the system and fight with all of the problems. I know what is needed to help both the disabled and the caregiver of that disabled person. To often the full picture isn’t seen. There are terms and things that need to be addressed in our system to make it better and more friendly in situations like that.