Meet the Candidate: Carlos Guillermo Smith (FL)

12 mins read

Carlos Guillermo Smith – Florida – State House District 49

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

Like hundreds of thousands of Floridians, my own Hispanic heritage is mixed. My father, Luis Ricardo Smith, was born in the small jungle town of Pucallpa, Peru. My mother, Johanne Ghyslaine Guay, was born in Montréal, Canada. After growing up in Lima, Papa moved to Montréal in 1970 when he was only 22 years old. When they met, he didn’t speak French and she didn’t speak Spanish, so English became their common language and they married in 1973.

Back then, finding a path to U.S. Citizenship was much easier than it is now. After my sister Cathy was born, my Uncle Carlos who lived in NYC was able to sponsor my father’s citizenship application. Once that was approved, my family emigrated from Canada to South Florida in 1979. Then in 1980, I became the first American-born member of my family.

In the years that followed, many of my Peruvian relatives and first cousins followed suit and immigrated to the United States to make Florida their new home. Growing up around them meant a lot of love, a lot of culture, and a lot of people correcting my Spanish (which they are still doing today). Papa always made sure that my sisters and I were constantly surrounded by Spanish-speaking family, Latin music, and that we were fed really good Peruvian food! I’m grateful that he did that, because it ensured we would always have an authentic and lifelong connection to our identities as Hispanic-Americans.

I’m proud of that heritage, and look forward to the opportunity to continue serving while representing the entire Latinx community in the Florida House.

Why are you running for office?

Since graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2003, I have spent most of my time living and working in this district. I’ve been an active and visible leader in the community and have proudly represented the Orange County portions of House District 37 for 6 consecutive years in the Florida House.

With your help, I am ready to go back to Tallahassee and get to work improving the lives of the people who live in House District 37.

What are the three biggest issues facing your community?

The encroachment of irresponsible growth along the rural boundary is a real issue for people in my district. Rural communities want to protect their way of life from unregulated growth. Like everywhere else in the nation, gun reform continues to be a top-tier concern. Veterans need better care and more economic opportunities in Florida. They gave so much, we must do better for them. Lastly, teacher pay Increases are desperately needed. Teachers hold our future in their hands every day, it is about time we pay them appropriately for that awesome responsibility.

How do you propose to solve those problems?

Through continued advocacy, working with my fellow legislators to introduce and support bills that will enact useful, bipartisan policies into state law and continuing to be transparent in my communications with my constituents through social media and other platforms.

What is your stance on environmental and climate concerns that are facing your community?

I am a big supporter of passing policies that protect our habitats, improve water/air quality and invest in conservation.

As a native Floridian, I am deeply committed to protecting Florida’s diverse ecosystems, including lakes, forests, wetlands, and more.

I have been repeatedly recognized by the Sierra Club’s Florida Chapter as a champion for always voting against legislation that would lessen environmental protections.

Throughout my time in Tallahassee, I have voted AGAINST bills that would destroy natural land or put any of Florida’s endangered species at risk. I’ve also fought to establish MORE conservation areas in our state. I co-sponsored legislation that eventually became law to establish the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area.

Since my election to the Florida State House in 2016, I have consistently opposed bad development deals east of the rural boundary which threaten the Econ River Basin, our wildlife and clean water. I recently joined my constituents in fierce opposition to the development known as “The Grow” as well as Susanee (Lake Pickett North) which shares a border with Seminole County.

What commonsense gun safety measures would have the most impact on your community?

There are several measures that could provide a positive impact on my community (and yours, too!) First, we should require universal criminal background checks on all gun purchases (the key word here is ALL.) We should expand red flag laws to allow family member intervention when someone threatens to harm themselves or others and prohibit firearm possession by domestic abusers. We should also require universal background checks on all sales and transfers of ammunition (also known as “Jaime’s Law”.)
Gun storage laws should be strengthened so that no unintended access to firearms can occur. This seems like it should go without saying, but we should prohibit concealed weapons in all child care facilities.
We definitely should repeal the state law preempting local firearm regulations by cities and counties. These folks know their communities better than we do. We need to create and fund gun violence Intervention programs statewide. To address inner city gun violence, we should create an Urban Core Gun Violence Task Force. And a repeal the Stand Your Ground Law is long overdue.

How would criminal justice reforms impact your community?

We need to invest in Cannabis Reform by Making Medical Cannabis Affordable/Fully Legal.
In 2016, 71% of Florida voters overwhelming approved Amendment 2 legalizing medical cannabis in our state. Afterwards, Republicans in the legislature passed an implementing law that created a cartel-like system which led to monopolies for big cannabis industry players and prohibited small businesses from entering the cannabis economy.

Florida’s medical cannabis patients often face high prices and out-of-pocket costs to maintain legal patient status for themselves or for their child as caretakers in the program.

I believe Florida should move away from the ‘vertical integration’ system and towards a free-market industry where small and minority-owned businesses can compete. Patients will see lower prices and better products as a result. I have fought for lower costs by cutting the $75 patient ID fee and fought to waive fees for veterans in the medical cannabis program.

I have championed medical cannabis as an alternative to prescription opiates for certain patients and has opposed efforts to impose arbitrary THC caps on products. As the law was implemented in 2017, I helped secure the opening of cannabis dispensaries in Orange County. I also helped to repeal the ban on smoked medical cannabis in 2019.

We should legalize Cannabis for adult use! Prohibition never works and the marijuana prohibition has incarcerated generations of black and brown people and cost taxpayers billions. I support full legalization of cannabis for adult use and have introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Jeff Brandes to do it in Florida.

There’s no question that our criminal justice system is broken and in need of serious reforms. Florida’s antiquated marijuana possession laws are not only costing us money, but they are ruining lives and unnecessarily filling up our state prison system. That’s why I introduced bills to fully decriminalize cannabis in 2017 and 2018 as well as introduced bills to legalize it for adult use in 2019 and 2020.

How would you work to protect a woman’s reproductive health?

Reproductive rights are under attack in the Florida legislature, and have been ever since Republicans took over as the majority party. Personal medical decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor, not by politicians in Tallahassee or Washington. I oppose any legislation meant to restrict a woman’s constitutional right to access a safe and legal abortion.

For reference, read my January 2016 op-ed on the intersection of LGBTQ and reproductive rights.
To reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, Florida should replace abstinence-only sex education in our public schools with practical and comprehensive and inclusive curriculums. We should support women’s healthcare clinics and organizations such as Planned Parenthood that provide free or low-cost contraception to people who need it.

Additionally, I support the Equal Rights Amendment and Equal Pay. I have co-sponsored legislation to finally pass the ERA in Florida and legislation to guarantee equal work for equal pay for women, who on average make $.85 for every dollar made by white men in Florida.

What measures would you advocate to ensure that your constituents have the right to vote?

We need to stop allowing gerrymandering, support any increased measures for voting like automatic Vote By Mail ballots for registered voters, increased voting drop off locations, and allow others to drop off ballots for their elderly family members etc. Voting should be as easy as possible for all registered voters!

“Posts by or about political candidates do not imply endorsement. All posts are created by answers from our Meet the Candidates survey.”

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Story

GIFs and Memes for Women's Rights and Emoji Day

Next Story

Athena Watches the Descent of the Snakes, Frogs and Ants into the FirePit

Latest from Florida

%d bloggers like this: