What office are you running for?
Florida House of Representatives District 79
With which party are you running for office?
November 3, 2020
Why are you running for office?
I’m fighting for a better future.
Yes, it’s true. I was an alligator wrestler. The kind that would lure a big gator out of the pond, by feeding it, letting the crowd hear the strength of it’s jaw clap and showcasing the gator’s speed as I circled it. Old Florida tourist entertainment at it’s best.
During these shows, there were “spotters” stationed around the the perimeter of the gator pit. Staff that were there to keep an eye on any other activity in the pond, any gators approaching me from a blind spot, to keep me safe— but during this one particular show, my spotters let me down. It was a hot, humid summer day in South Florida, and they had lost focus in the searing heat.
When I got to the point in the show, where l take a giant leap onto the gator’s back, pinning him down with my hands, I grasped the gator’s tail and dragged him backwards a little, working to get him into position for the big jump. Suddenly, I see something lunging at me, just out of the corner of my eye, and I realize there’s a big one coming for me. I jump across the rock barrier, slipping on the algae. I hear a snap, feel a sharp pain as I hit the gravel, but I’m still holding my gator by it’s tail. I hang on, using him to defend myself, as I drag him and crawl my way backwards to the exit. The audience roars with applause.
Being a gator wrestler was an experience that made me more confident and fast on my feet. But the reason I mention it, as I’m introducing myself, is not just to brag—but because these experiences I have had, with the spotters losing focus, not there to look out for my safety while I struggle to survive— Our government is doing the same thing, right now. They’re failing us, leaving so many of us to try to struggle out of the gator pit, without accessible healthcare or jobs that pay a living wage. They have completely abandoned their duties to help and protect us, especially during this pandemic.
I know what its like to not have a spotter. I didn’t have a spotter that day with the gators. I didn’t have a spotter when I was furloughed, or when I lost my health insurance.
We didn’t have spotters when our waters became so toxic with blue-green algae and fecal indicator bacteria that our public swimming areas had to be permanently closed… And where have the spotters been, what have they been doing as Florida becomes the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic?
The incumbent, Spencer Roach, is one of those bad spotters. He is out of touch with this district and our needs. He has lost his focus—why is a state representative on the Gulf Coast wasting time regulating the rights of a town council in the Keys? Why did he sponsor a bill to regulate sunscreen, when so many of us are struggling just to put food on the table and access basic healthcare right here in district 79?
So many of us need help up escaping the gator pit. We need access to unemployment, but Florida’s unemployment system is broken and needs to be fixed. We know that unemployment will help keep us from sinking, but ultimately we need to create more job opportunities that provide living wages. We need to be spotters for the lower and middle class, keeping them from being pinned down- instead of offering developer subsidies and tax cuts for the wealthy.
As a former alligator wrestler and firefighter, and NOW a hardworking, single mom, goat farmer, environmentalist, activist for equality, and journalist for the Caloosa Belle, Immokalee Bulletin, and Lake Okeechobee News- I am ready to take on Tallahassee!
I take a hands-on approach to combatting homelessness, unemployment, and food insecurity. I fight for social justice and inclusion, and I celebrate diversity.
When elected, I plan to focus on policy and legislation that builds a stable, reliable economy to fund state programs without having to raise taxes, create more quality jobs that pay a living wage, provide healthcare that is affordable and accessible for ALL Floridians, and helps repair and maintain our environment.
Sustainability and resiliency, FOR ALL OF US, is the goal.
The 2020 election is crucial. We need strong representation now more than ever. I need your support to be able to continue the fight in Tallahassee!
What is the biggest issue facing your community and how do you propose helping?
Two of the most important challenges we face are a failing economy and environmental destruction. Fortunately, there are ways to wrestle our way through both.
We have already seen the benefit of medical marijuana—creating thousands of jobs and sales that have continued to surge, despite the pandemic. If Florida legalizes the adult use of cannabis, it will grow our economy, promote public health, bring in more dependable revenue for state programs without raising taxes, create more jobs, and provide the opportunity for environment-friendly agricultural practices.
Reforming Florida’s cannabis laws is a giant leap onto the gator’s back—we need to legalize it, regulate it, and tax it— and it will help sustain us and move us forward. When we have that pinned down, we can begin to develop a clean energy economy that will improve job opportunities exponentially, as well as reduce pollution, and build resiliency.
These are just a few of the places where I know we can make progress. There is so much to tackle, and I am ready to jump in.
How do we fix the partisan divide in our country and start working together again?
I plan to reach across the aisle by presenting climate change issues as common sense, science-based compromises that promote economic opportunity—because that’s what they are! I would make sure to present the statistics and data that illustrate how battling climate change can be profitable—in some cases,more so than conventional and environmentally destructive methods of manufacturing, agriculture, etc.
Who is your hero?
My mom has always been a hero to me. She doesn’t know it, but it’s true. She grew up in Thailand, struggling as one of the oldest of 10 brothers and sisters—and helping to care for them and raise them. She helped work the family rice paddies, and tended to the livestock (water buffalo, pigs, chickens). She came to America and has battled racism and sexism with such determination and grace. She never let her traumatic past dictate her future. She fought through it all. She taught me to be strong, to stand up for what I believe in, to be unapologetic about the authentic me, and to be loving and accepting of those around me. She encouraged me to reach for my dreams, no matter what challenges present themselves. She taught me to be a great mother.
What are your hobbies?
I love being outdoors. I am an avid fossil hunter, bird watcher, and horse woman. I bicycle and kayak quite often. I spend many weekends sailing along the Caloosahatchee with my family. I use goat milk from my little farm to make different artisan goat cheeses. On rainy days, or sweltering hot ones, I really enjoy reading. I also love to write, paint, and create pottery.
What is the most recent book you read?
I’m currently re-reading “Tales of Old Florida,” a compilation of historical short stories. (As a toddler mom, these days I am also reading “Go, Dog. Go!” with my daughter, nearly every night before bedtime.)
Do you have any kids/pets/talking houseplants?
I have an amazing, precocious, little 3-year-old daughter. She has two dogs, two cats, a pony, and a tortoise. We also run a small farm, so we have chickens, ducks, rabbits, and goats. We tend to our up and coming permaculture food forest planted with mangoes, starfruit, cherimoya, papayas, moringa, bananas, avocados, and other tasty treats. We also work on maintaining our native plant and butterfly garden.
How can our readers get involved in your campaign?
We are always looking for more volunteers for sign waving, fun-raising, texting, emailing, helping with social media or website management, phone banking and more. All of our campaign activities are safe and usually virtual (or if in-person, masks are provided and social distancing is exercised). Visit http://www.fornearforflorida.com if interested in joining in the effort to flip Florida Blue! Tell 10 friends to tell 10 friends to vote FORNEAR FOR FLORIDA! Vote by mail, vote early, please VOTE!
What question do you wish we’d asked, and what is your answer?
What are your three main priorities?
Wellness, Water, and Weed!
WELLNESS—Healthcare is a Human Right. We must ensure that ALL people have access to needed health services. Healthcare that is accessible and affordable, expansion of Medicaid, and making sure women have to access affordable, high-quality reproductive health care is imperative.
WATER—Water is Life. We must take steps to preserve our unique and delicate SWFL ecosystems. I have signed the Florida Climate Economic and Defense Initiative, a Florida version of the Green New Deal. It’s imperative to act on a sustainability plan that takes into account and balances the natural environment with social and economic needs to create a livable and successful community for current and future generations of Floridians.
WEED—Legalizing cannabis will grow our economy, promote public health, create more jobs, provide the opportunity for environment-friendly agricultural practices, and bring in more dependable revenue for state programs without raising taxes. This will allow us to improve conditions while we pursue and build a clean energy economy.
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