Fourteen candidates running for various local offices responded to a request by the Oasis Center for Women & Girls for position statements on issues affecting women and girls. The unedited information is offered to the public as an educational resource. Oasis does not endorse any candidate, and supports informed participation in civic life. We cannot and do not make any assertions or assurances regarding the validity of the information provided by the survey respondents.

Candidate: Suzanne Van Wyk

Running for: Leon County Judge, Seat 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the 2017 Leon County Community Health Assessment, approximately 1 in 4 people live in poverty. Single parents are 4 times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households. Forty percent of children live in single parent households, and 80% of single parent households are headed by women. What policies or programs do you propose to reduce poverty and improve financial stability for single mothers in Tallahassee?

As a judicial candidate, I am not in a position to propose policies or programs. However, local judges should be cognizant of the impact of imposing court costs and fines on all persons of low income. A single parent who has to choose between court costs and feeding their children, will always choose the latter. Court costs and fines will accumulate and the problem snowballs to a debt the mother cannot satisfy. The tools available to the judge include community service and certain diversion programs. Where that flexibility exists, it should be allowed.

Leon County ranks 38 out of 67 counties in Florida with a Gender Earnings Ratio of 84.1%, meaning that women earn $0.84 to every dollar earned by men in comparable positions. This figure is down from five years ago when the ratio was 89%. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap, and what are your ideas for eliminating wage disparity?

The ideal solution to wage disparity is to have more women in management and other positions with authority to control wages, merit increases, hiring, and promotion. Organizations like this one are in the trenches supporting young women and girls – empowering them to strive for leadership positions now that will prepare them for leadership in business and government. Without this organization and its Women Can Run conference, I would not be running for office right now! Every woman in a management or leadership position must keep one hand out to bring other women along. Mentor a student, young professional woman, or colleague. I mentor law students on an ongoing basis. The most meaningful way I help the is to make introductions to practitioners in the practice area they want to pursue. I encourage them to follow up and to ask for internships and clerkships; and I edit resumes, help draft cover letters, and set up lunch meetings. Support your female colleagues and celebrate successes.

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

Again, I am not in a position to propose policies and programs. As an administrative law judge, I have presided in numerous discrimination and harassment claims. If harassment is not addressed in the early stages, it is likely to escalate to more serious, even violent, offenses. Generally, I have observed management in the larger employers take these claims seriously and follow the established procedures to address them early on. Smaller employers seem to have more difficulty dealing with harassment complaints, partly because the don’t hire professional HR staff or “put their head in the sand.”

Silence is the enemy! I often observe women hesitate to come forward with their complaints for fear of being labeled as difficult or not a team player. We must empower women to speak up when their rights are violated. Furthermore, we should do a better job of educating all employees how to spot indicators, directly address the abuser, and speak up on behalf of the abused.

Domestic abuse remains a significant threat to women in our community, one that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. What are your ideas for protecting women from abuse, in all forms, in their homes?

That is a tough one and one that is personal. Having grown up in a violent household, I have seen firsthand the power the abuser exerts on the abused. My mother was a professional woman with a career and means to leave her abuser, yet she did not. Law enforcement has come a long way. In the early 1980s, when my siblings and I finally got up the nerve to call the police, they appeared, took my Dad’s word for it that everything was ok, and left. Knowing that law enforcement now actually will protect them, women should be empowered to get help. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Our public service agencies, neighbors, teachers, and employers must remain ever vigilant to the signs and be ready to intervene. Education, education, education is the key. Then,when a woman does leave, the community must be prepared to support her. We are blessed to have Mag Baldwin and the Refuge House in our community. This and other organizations must be fully-funded, embraced, and celebrated for their work.

Bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide is rising for girls in our community, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. What are your ideas for protecting girls and improving their well-being?

I have three girls of my own and have struggled with raising them in this digital age. Their access to harmful images, messages, and potential predators, is unparalleled and frightening. The responsibility must begin at home. We must set the rules and enforce them, have access to our girls’ devices, know who they are talking to, all while developing their trust so they will confide in us when they are suspicious and when things go awry, but before they spiral out of control. To that end, establishing a relationship with a therapist or social worker early can be advantageous. If your daughter has a trusting relationship with a professional, even a teacher, they will have someone to confide in when they will not talk to their parents.
I believe in talking to my kids honestly about alcohol, smoking, and drugs. Kids are going to experiment. They must have the tools to say no when they don’t want to try something, and to keep safe when they do.
I would like to see more resources for children’s mental and emotional health in our community. We have very few counselors for children and maybe two psychiatrists, one of whom may be taking new patients at any one time. It is a serious problem.

Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a serious and pressing issue in our community. How do you propose to address this form of exploitation?

Again, I am not in a position to propose policies and programs. Public education is key to identifying victims of trafficking and removing them from the situation and into a safe place. We need more support for programs like STAC, which provide both education and direct support. The public must learn the signs to identify persons being trafficked and be willing to speak up and direct the individual to the correct services.

The LGBTQ community is underserved in Tallahassee-Leon County and one of the most vulnerable to economic and housing discrimination, and physical violence. What policies or programs do you propose to protect and support this segment of the population?

Again, I am not in a position to propose policies or programs. But, from the perspective of an administrative law judge who has presided in numerous discrimination claims, there is a lack of clarity in this area of the law. The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, but not gender. There are so many unanswered questions (e.g., whether it protects individuals from discrimination based on gender identity), individuals do not have a clear understanding of their rights. I had one case before me earlier this year wherein the Petitioner alleged disc imitation based on gender non-conformance. I was looking forward to hearing from counsel on this cutting edge issue, but, alas, the case settled.

Safe, quality, affordable childcare and housing are increasingly out of reach for families in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are your ideas for addressing the widening gap between essential services and residents’ ability to pay for them?

As a mother of three, I can attest to struggling with the high cost of childcare, as well as the stress of calling out of work to stay home with a sick child who is not allowed in childcare and for whom other options are unavailable. As a judicial candidate, I don’t have policies to propose. However, our judges have to be cognizant of these issues when scheduling hearings, deciding on pre-trial detention, and excusing potential jurors.

What ideas do you have for improving access to quality, comprehensive healthcare (including mental health) for women in Tallahassee-Leon County? Also, do you support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights?

I am disturbed by the lack of health care options for all persons diagnosed with mental health issues in our community, and for those whose issues go undiagnosed due to a lack of resources. It is a shame to have only one child psychiatrist accepting new patients in Tallahassee, and only one or two child psychologists or social workers taking new patients at any one time. The problem locally is even worse for adolescent patients.

I know from personal experience when I suffered from post-partum depression after my daughter’s birth, it can be hard to find the right help. I don’t know that these issues can be addressed legislatively. Based on solely anecdotal data from my conversations with mental health professionals who have left the profession, the insurance programs are a huge factor.

How do you propose to improve public transportation, which could include reducing transit time, extending schedule hours, and increasing stops and/or routes?

Again, I am not in a position to propose policy solutions. I know our city made a change from central route to the hub routes a few years ago. I do not know if that has improved efficiency or timeliness. Sorry, I don’t have substantive feedback on this one.

 

 

Candidate: Howard Kessler

Running for: City Commission, Seat 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the 2017 Leon County Community Health Assessment, approximately 1 in 4 people live in poverty. Single parents are 4 times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households. Forty percent of children live in single parent households, and 80% of single parent households are headed by women. What policies or programs do you propose to reduce poverty and improve financial stability for single mothers in Tallahassee?

Poverty is a large question well beyond the ability of a city to fix. Although there are things a city can do to help those living in poverty or who are homeless, the major solutions resides at the state and federal levels. Assuring an affordable wage and making sure the city’s growth plan includes construction of affordable housing are good starting points for the city.

Leon County ranks 38 out of 67 counties in Florida with a Gender Earnings Ratio of 84.1%, meaning that women earn $0.84 to every dollar earned by men in comparable positions. This figure is down from five years ago when the ratio was 89%. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap, and what are your ideas for eliminating wage disparity?

There should not be a wage gender gap. Equal work deserves equal pay. When there is outstanding performance of an employee, a bonus or wage increase is appropriate. What is not appropriate is a policy of or the process of paying one employee more that another with the same job description, with equal performance, different wages, skewed by gender preference.

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

An atmosphere has to be immediately put in place that protects the whistle blower from retribution. Annual education on sexual harassment needs be instituted. This may be decrease in frequency once the problem has been essentially eliminated. A full investigation of the complaint needs to happen by an impartial party or board. Sexual violence is totally unacceptable. I define violence as beyond saying an infrequent sexual joke or comment. Those inappropriate comments, I think, can be remedied with education and HR counseling.

Domestic abuse remains a significant threat to women in our community, one that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. What are your ideas for protecting women from abuse, in all forms, in their homes?

This is a difficult social problem because until the spouse really wants to leave their abusive environment, it is difficult for the best meaning and most resourceful people to help. Letting those facing this situation know that there are people and agencies willing and able to help and keeping that information readily available is a good start.

Bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide is rising for girls in our community, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. What are your ideas for protecting girls and improving their well-being?

SWAT discussed this in Leon County and it was discussed at Youth Summit. A better out out-reach and education on these issues. Suicide in young people is a tragedy that effects many. Education and support services are very important in trying to reverse this statistic.

Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a serious and pressing issue in our community. How do you propose to address this form of exploitation?

This is a law enforcement issue. Law enforcement should have the tools and the resources to carry out this mission.

The LGBTQ community is underserved in Tallahassee-Leon County and one of the most vulnerable to economic and housing discrimination, and physical violence. What policies or programs do you propose to protect and support this segment of the population?

All people should be treated equally in housing and all aspects of our society. If there is discrimination against the LGBTQ segment of our citizenry, that discrimination should be rooted and prosecuted. We have laws that are supposed to assure equal treatment under the law. If this is not happening, then the elected officials should be voted out of office or otherwise disciplined. This may take extraordinary measures as were needed in trying to gain equality for African-Americans.

Safe, quality, affordable childcare and housing are increasingly out of reach for families in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are your ideas for addressing the widening gap between essential services and residents’ ability to pay for them?

Private industry will address these issues when they seriously effect their ability to find and hire workers. Private industry is profit motivated and they will do what it takes to make a profit. Government, especially at the local level, and probably would have to raise taxes and do other unpopular things that would result in a political reversal of elected officials and a probable reversal of any laws passed. In my opinion, ONLY if the community’s will is there to accomplish these things and the citizens voted to tax themselves to accomplish this would this stand any chance, in the present political climate.

What ideas do you have for improving access to quality, comprehensive healthcare (including mental health) for women in Tallahassee-Leon County? Also, do you support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights?

An ordinance would only be symbolic and would not really protect women’s reproductive rights because state and the federal government’s laws would preempt any county ordinance. I have volunteered free medical care in two clinics in Tallahassee for now over 16 years.

How do you propose to improve public transportation, which could include reducing transit time, extending schedule hours, and increasing stops and/or routes?

At present I see may buses travel at commute and other popular times that are under-utilized. The present mass transportation system, Starmetro, appears to offer the public a reasonable option. How tax dollars are spent determines much of how we decide to transport ourselves. Spending tax dollars supporting the use of the individual auto ride will assure a continuation of the same. If there is a will to utilize mass transportation more, then the dollars have to be there to support that. It is not just cost savings but mass transportation has to be convenient (It save the hassle of finding a parking spot or paying for one). More frequent mass transportation trips and adaptation of size of vehicles to actual need would help. I would suggest a study, if one has not already been done, to evaluate the potential demand of increased hours.

 

 

Candidate: Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda

Running for: Mayor (City Commission, Seat 4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the 2017 Leon County Community Health Assessment, approximately 1 in 4 people live in poverty. Single parents are 4 times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households. Forty percent of children live in single parent households, and 80% of single parent households are headed by women. What policies or programs do you propose to reduce poverty and improve financial stability for single mothers in Tallahassee?

We have a low unemployment rate in our region. Our biggest employers are government and health care. The jobs are simply not paying well. As a member of the Florida Legislature, I knew there were too many families with full-time employment with the state of Florida who were also on food stamps. I worked every day of my eight years in office to ask for higher wages, and to keep health care and pensions viable for state employees. I am familiar with this issue.

We have the most educated and talented people in the state and our workforce rivals that of some highly competitive cities in our nation and around the world. Somewhere there is a disconnect: with all that we have, we should be one of the most prosperous and healthy cities in the country. We have all the ingredients to be such a wonderful community.

We have an enthusiastic and vibrant non-profit community in our city and region that we must inventory and find ways to multiply its force by working together. We need to leverage our resources of well educated people, our many non-profits who are focused on helping those in need, a National Magnetic Field Laboratory, FSU/FAMU’s wonderful engineering school, The Electric Ship Research and Development Consortium, The Center for Advanced Power Systems, and a beautiful natural environment, in the national and global marketplace to bring more business to our city.

If we bring in high paying jobs and make sure that the competition for our talent is brisk, then a higher standard of living is possible for all. We must make sure that we are creating ways for those who may have barriers to education or opportunity to be mentored into successful careers or lifestyles. In addition, financial literacy programs sponsored by our banks, community of financial advisors, our places of worship, and our schools would be an important part of bringing those who are not enjoying prosperity to begin to thrive.

Leon County ranks 38 out of 67 counties in Florida with a Gender Earnings Ratio of 84.1%, meaning that women earn $0.84 to every dollar earned by men in comparable positions. This figure is down from five years ago when the ratio was 89%. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap, and what are your ideas for eliminating wage disparity?

We can start with an inventory of city employee pay . Are there any disparities that need to be corrected there? Leading by example is important.

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

Our city/county has a very high crime rate and has been noted for its high crime rate for a number of years now. There are positions that remain unfilled in our Tallahassee Police Department. There are about 30 officers ready to retire. Officers are overworked and stressed. Across the nation, competition is tough for law enforcement. First priority: We need to competitively recruit well trained officers with a heart for public service for the Tallahassee Police Department to fill vacant positions and fill positions of soon-to-retire officers. The presence of well-trained, well-equipped officers on the streets is fundamental to fighting crime and lowering the crime rate.

We also have a chronic problem at the Leon County/Tallahassee Consolidated Dispatch Center. Dispatchers are underpaid, overworked, and stressed and have lacked permanent national quality leadership for far too long. 911 dispatchers are on the front lines when a woman or girl calls to report a sexual assault, domestic violence, or other incidence of violence. If dispatchers are stressed, lack leadership and training, help may not come or reports may be inadvertently discouraged, or further trauma may occur.

First things, first; priorities are important to get right. The Leon County/Tallahassee Dispatch Center and the a fully functioning TPD could have been made a priority by sitting county and city commissioners but sadly they have not been and we pay the price. The most tragic price is the trauma of crime on victims. A hidden price is to our reputation with economic consequences that leads to more crime.

Another critical approach is for the city government to be a place of employment that is a safe place free of sexual harassment and abuse. An incidence inventory to reveal any problems and appropriate discipline to include firing, and training to make sure a culture of safety for all must be put in place. This is how to lead by example within our city.

In addition, bus stops, parks, and any other area under city government control must be inventoried for common sense solutions for safety.

Work with our public and private universities and colleges to make sure that students and faculty and staff are part of our outreach to make Tallahassee a safe and welcoming place for all.

Domestic abuse remains a significant threat to women in our community, one that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. What are your ideas for protecting women from abuse, in all forms, in their homes?

Inventory the non-profits in the city that are working on this issue and listen to what they may need from each other, from private enterprise, and how government leadership might help leverage solutions.

Bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide is rising for girls in our community, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. What are your ideas for protecting girls and improving their well-being?

In 2010 with the help of constituents and other community leaders like the late Sheriff Larry Campbell, Dr. Rachel Sutz-Pienta, and Dr. Jay Reeve. I initiated the Big Ben Anti-Bullying Task Force. We held panel discussions, roundtables and went out into the community to discuss the damage bullying does to the mental and physical health of the bullied and the bullies and the consequences for increased violence and long-term harm and costs. I also initiated and hosted state-wide Anti-Bullying Roundtables to find legislative solutions to bullying in our schools. I proposed bills and helped increase funding for anti-bullying initiatives. I offer my record of leadership while in the Florida House of Representatives on this issue as evidence of my recognition of the critical nature of the effects of bullying, suicide, and other violence and my record of finding creative approaches to help to solve these long-standing problems. I will have the same approach to leadership in the mayor’s office. I will roll up my sleeves, find others to work with, listen to those who are experts, those who are on the front-lines, victims and even perpetrators to find ways to help us to do better, be kinder to one another so that we all have the opportunity to reach our full potential.

Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a serious and pressing issue in our community. How do you propose to address this form of exploitation?

Work together with community leaders, private enterprise, and non-profits to find ways to stop this scourge. I was member of the Human Trafficking Working Group led by Rep. Ross Spano in the Florida House. We found legislative approaches to improve the lives of victims, to catch more perpetrators, and help bring this scourge out of the shadows and into the light. For at least two legislative sessions under Speaker Will Weatherford, bills to fight human trafficking were high priority and some of the very first bills passed. I am grateful to have been part of that work.

During that work, we were made aware of the creative and focused work of the Tampa Junior League on human trafficking. I would like to help our city do something similar.

The LGBTQ community is underserved in Tallahassee-Leon County and one of the most vulnerable to economic and housing discrimination, and physical violence. What policies or programs do you propose to protect and support this segment of the population?

Similar to the work mentioned above for bullying, safety, work-place safety, welcoming and kind culture of our city listed above.

Safe, quality, affordable childcare and housing are increasingly out of reach for families in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are your ideas for addressing the widening gap between essential services and residents’ ability to pay for them?

I would start with city employees by taking inventory of their needs. I would also lead by assessing the vibrant and strong non-profit, faith based, and charitable culture we already have in our community to see what can be done to leverage their resources. I would look for ways to connect those entities to private enterprise and to draw down additional grants and funding from state and federal sources and national non-profits.

What ideas do you have for improving access to quality, comprehensive healthcare (including mental health) for women in Tallahassee-Leon County? Also, do you support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights?

While I believe a woman’s fundamental right and natural right over the dignity of her body and of privacy and found in our U.S. Constitution, I do not believe that expressing this right is a function of local government-.

As to mental and physical health of our community: I will take a similar approach as expressed in all my answers: Find out what resources we already have, make sure each resources is fully leveraged and connected to other resources, find creative ways to lead and solve problems that make common sense, and find funding sources when funds are needed through working with state and federal leaders and national non-profits. Also, make sure that the city government employees have what they need as a way to lead by example.

How do you propose to improve public transportation, which could include reducing transit time, extending schedule hours, and increasing stops and/or routes?

I want a complete evaluation of Star Metro to find out how to improve ridership, inclusion, and safety. I would also like to make a review of how other livable cities of our size are having success with public transportation. The issue of accessible, affordable, safe, clean, efficient and effective public transportation would be a high priority for me as mayor. I think public transportation is an important key to knitting this city together. One of my “Moonshot” ideas involves public transportation.

One of my daughters moved to NYC instead of Los Angeles to begin her career in television and film production in order to access good public transportation options. When our family vacations, we always look for ways to avoid single car transportation. I have taken Star Metro to get to places and would like to do more.

I also think we must continue to press on train travel to and from our city. I worked on the Amtrak issue while I was a legislator and will work on it again, if I become mayor. Sometimes in politics and policy it is patience, persistence, the right players and influencers, and timing. I intend to keep trying to get the train here again and to work on rail transportation. Rail travel is not only good for the environment but can mean freedom and safety to travel for elders, students, the alternatively abled, families, and certainly women.

 

 

Candidate: Lisa Brown

Running for: City Commission, Seat 3

 

 

 

 

According to the 2017 Leon County Community Health Assessment, approximately 1 in 4 people live in poverty. Single parents are 4 times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households. Forty percent of children live in single parent households, and 80% of single parent households are headed by women. What policies or programs do you propose to reduce poverty and improve financial stability for single mothers in Tallahassee?

We know that when we empower women, we empower families. My credit union was one of 23 in the country to receive a $1.8 million grant to provide affordable financing for low income families. This has provided $15 million in economic vitality and helped our citizens have access to affordable transportation to get to and from work. More than 70% of these loans have been granted to women.

Additionally, I was on a team that started the IOAvenue program as a part of Tallahassee’s TechHire status. This program partners local employers and trainers to prepare participants with technical skills to fill job openings. I will continue to support innovative programs that provide good paying jobs for the women in our community.

As a community, we need to make specific efforts with women and girls in STEM to prepare them for the jobs of the future. My vision for Tallahassee in 10 years involves partnerships with the Universities to bring more research and development jobs here.

Leon County ranks 38 out of 67 counties in Florida with a Gender Earnings Ratio of 84.1%, meaning that women earn $0.84 to every dollar earned by men in comparable positions. This figure is down from five years ago when the ratio was 89%. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap, and what are your ideas for eliminating wage disparity?

I have advocated for equal pay for women across the country and around the world as a part of the Global Women’s Leadership Network. I’ve worked with women across Africa, in the Ukraine, and the Philippines. I also work with many women’s organizations here locally, including Oasis Center, and I am the Treasurer for Ladies Learning to Lead. One of the first things that I would do would be to adopt best-in-class policies at the City to assure that employees are compensated equally for the same experience and duties. I would request that these policies be made available to the public and business communities. They will be written in a way that any Tallahassee business or organization could adopt them.

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

I will propose comprehensive policies that allow for support for City employees that are involved in violent situations. I will request that these policies be made available to the public and business communities so that they may be adopted city-wide. Additionally, I will take steps to be sure that we continue to support Victim’s Advocate and Crime Prevention programs. I will assure that we have best-in-class training programs for law enforcement personnel.

Domestic abuse remains a significant threat to women in our community, one that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. What are your ideas for protecting women from abuse, in all forms, in their homes?

I will extend awareness training programs for all City Employees. Awareness shouldn’t lie exclusively on the shoulders of law enforcement. Any employee that interacts with the public – customer service, utility workers, and parks and recreation staff to name a few – will be aware of warning signs and the appropriate steps to help stop domestic violence situations early. I will request that this training also be provided to the community.

Bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide is rising for girls in our community, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. What are your ideas for protecting girls and improving their well-being?

I will propose programs through the Parks and Recreation Department that will partner with local mental health providers to focus on preventive techniques like problem-solving skills, a sense of belonging, social support, and resilience. Additionally, I will assure that law enforcement personnel has the best possible training for interventions when responding to citizens thinking of suicide.

Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a serious and pressing issue in our community. How do you propose to address this form of exploitation?

During my time volunteering with Capital City Youth Services, I became made aware of a situation where 14 year old girls were brought here from Guatemala for the purpose of prostitution during football games. It is horrifying that this is happening right here in Tallahassee. We MUST do better. This will be another situation where awareness is key. Proper training for all City employees that interact with the public – customer service, utility workers, and parks and recreation staff to name a few – will be aware of warning signs and the appropriate steps to help stop this issue in Tallahassee. I will request that this training also be provided to the community.

The LGBTQ community is underserved in Tallahassee-Leon County and one of the most vulnerable to economic and housing discrimination, and physical violence. What policies or programs do you propose to protect and support this segment of the population?

My 20 year old daughter came out to me when she was 15. I have watched the struggles that she has had and it is heartbreaking. I will propose that the City of Tallahassee adopt best-in-class policies and procedures that protect LGBTQ rights. I will require that the City of Tallahassee use the standards adopted by the Human Rights Campaign to assure that we are holding our people accountable to promote diversity and inclusion. We will hold benefits providers accountable for providing services to domestic partnerships. We will share this information with the community so that these best practices can be adopted across our city.

Safe, quality, affordable childcare and housing are increasingly out of reach for families in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are your ideas for addressing the widening gap between essential services and residents’ ability to pay for them?

As the mother of two children that works full-time, I understand these struggles. The cost of quality child care is stifling. We need to look for innovative ways to solve this problem. We need to expand our programs through the Tallahassee Parks and Recreation Department, incorporating programs that support community initiatives, like the one partnering with the Tallahassee Police Department. Additionally, partnering with others in the community will prove beneficial. My credit union has hosted a summer camp for children for the last eight years, teaching the value of a dollar with a complete financial education. Two years ago we partnered with the City to bring this education program to the Parks and Recreation camp programs. This year, we reached almost 800 children teaching concepts like budgeting, entrepreneurship, taxes, and basic financial services.

Additionally, partnering with local Universities and health organizations, I would propose that the City explore to pilot a child care facility for City employees. We could use this as a pilot program to look for opportunities to offer better and more affordable child care to Tallahassee families.

I have sat on Affordable Housing Boards. I will continue working on innovative solutions like land trusts and will push for initiatives to improve Section 8 and other affordable housing solutions. We should be using CRA money to promote Affordable Housing initiatives.

Expenses are only half of the conversation here though. We need to look for ways to support the opportunity for training and better paying jobs.

What ideas do you have for improving access to quality, comprehensive healthcare (including mental health) for women in Tallahassee-Leon County? Also, do you support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights?

I absolutely would support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights. Abortion is not a decision government should be involved in. This difficult decision is one that should be made between a woman and her doctor. It should be safe, legal, and rare. Talking about abortion is only half of the conversation though. We need to provide affordable access to preventative care of all kinds – reproductive and otherwise.

How do you propose to improve public transportation, which could include reducing transit time, extending schedule hours, and increasing stops and/or routes?

The City’s budget for public transportation is staggering, and struggles to provide the kind of service that is required. I will explore innovative alternatives to our current bus system, including but not limited to an Uber-styled service that will respond to individual and shared ride requests.

 

 

Candidate: Georgia “Joy” Bowen

Running for: Leon County School Board, District 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the 2017 Leon County Community Health Assessment, approximately 1 in 4 people live in poverty. Single parents are 4 times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households. Forty percent of children live in single parent households, and 80% of single parent households are headed by women. What policies or programs do you propose to reduce poverty and improve financial stability for single mothers in Tallahassee?

Numerous studies have shown that educating and training girls and women is one of the most effective ways to improve human, economic and social development, and the overall financial stability of the family. With this in mind, I support educational programs that prepare and provide opportunities for single mothers to live successfully, including financial stability.

Leon County ranks 38 out of 67 counties in Florida with a Gender Earnings Ratio of 84.1%, meaning that women earn $0.84 to every dollar earned by men in comparable positions. This figure is down from five years ago when the ratio was 89%. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap, and what are your ideas for eliminating wage disparity?

Pay inequality has far-reaching economic and social consequences and should should not exist. Pay gaps vary among the various segments of our community, based on such factors as age and race, as well as gender. Pay should be based upon qualification and experience. The elimination of wage disparity is an ongoing process that requires equity in hiring and pay.

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

Violence toward women in any form should not be tolerated. Clearly defined rules, regulations and policies must be in place and enforced consistently without regard to organizational status.

Domestic abuse remains a significant threat to women in our community, one that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. What are your ideas for protecting women from abuse, in all forms, in their homes?

Through enforcement of existing laws regarding abuse, women will feel less threatened and safer when reporting abuse. Abuse in any form must not be tolerated.

Bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide is rising for girls in our community, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. What are your ideas for protecting girls and improving their well-being?

First, bullying and cyber-bullying should be continuously addressed in our schools. The safety and welfare of our students and staff is important. These are serious community issues that require parental and community involvement. I propose that the in-school mental health counselors and social workers diligently and deliberately counsel students regarding these issues. Also, schools are encouraged to educate staff so they can identify and refer students who appear to be in danger of any of the above.

Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a serious and pressing issue in our community. How do you propose to address this form of exploitation?

In Leon County schools, we are required by law to report any form of suspected abuse and/or exploitation. All school officials and staff must be observant and report to the proper authorities suspected exploitation.

The LGBTQ community is underserved in Tallahassee-Leon County and one of the most vulnerable to economic and housing discrimination, and physical violence. What policies or programs do you propose to protect and support this segment of the population?

There must be enforcement of the anti-discrimination laws and laws prohibiting violence and assault of any kind. Leon County schools will continue to enforce its non-discrimination policy.

Safe, quality, affordable childcare and housing are increasingly out of reach for families in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are your ideas for addressing the widening gap between essential services and residents’ ability to pay for them?

I propose providing more neighbor-based daycare facilities that are conveniently located in the neighborhoods. Payment would be based upon family income and need.

What ideas do you have for improving access to quality, comprehensive healthcare (including mental health) for women in Tallahassee-Leon County? Also, do you support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights?

Good quality comprehensive healthcare should be available to all segments of our population, including information regarding women’s reproductive rights. Yes, I would support an ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights.

How do you propose to improve public transportation, which could include reducing transit time, extending schedule hours, and increasing stops and/or routes?

I support all of the above so that residents of our community, especially those who do not own motor vehicles, can have dependable access to transportation. Extending hours of available public transportation would be very beneficial. I also recommend increasing the number of buses providing services.

 

 

Candidate: Kyle Frost

Running for: Leon County Commission, District 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the 2017 Leon County Community Health Assessment, approximately 1 in 4 people live in poverty. Single parents are 4 times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households. Forty percent of children live in single parent households, and 80% of single parent households are headed by women. What policies or programs do you propose to reduce poverty and improve financial stability for single mothers in Tallahassee?

I have continually brought up the idea of a temporary housing project that low-income families (including those single mother families) would be able to use in order to create the foundation of a stable home. I believe that having a stable address in order to get started at a job, set up bank accounts, etc leads to stable jobs and incomes, allowing these families to create a stable home environment. This leads both to financial independence and stability as well as provides a home environment that allows children to flourish and grow into productive citizens of our community.

Leon County ranks 38 out of 67 counties in Florida with a Gender Earnings Ratio of 84.1%, meaning that women earn $0.84 to every dollar earned by men in comparable positions. This figure is down from five years ago when the ratio was 89%. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap, and what are your ideas for eliminating wage disparity?

I am proud that our County government continues to set the example in this area by continually being rated as an equal employer. However, in order to ensure that this problem is addressed throughout private sectors, we need to look at ways to incentivize investing in equal opportunities for all their employees.

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

For starters, investing in better street lighting and sidewalks in underserved areas would not only help to start addressing this issue, but a multitude of others. We also need to address this problem starting at a young age. Education programs aimed towards both young boys and girls in the community to shine a light on this issue would help prevent new offenders in the future. The young women and girls in our community shouldn’t be expected to simply learn to defend themselves, we have to teach young men and boys starting at an early age that doing these acts are wrong in the first place, and that respect must be given to be earned. For too long this issue has been addressed by only focusing on teaching women defensive procedures, whereas the burden should fall on the men that perpetrate these acts to begin with. Reaching boys at a young age to prevent this down the road will help reduce this problem at the start.

Domestic abuse remains a significant threat to women in our community, one that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. What are your ideas for protecting women from abuse, in all forms, in their homes?

Ensuring that officers are properly trained to handle situations, or even having abuse experts on hand to go to scenes of reported abuse. We also need to provide plenty of accessible means for victims of abuse to be able to contact authorities without fear of retaliation from their abuser.

Bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide is rising for girls in our community, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. What are your ideas for protecting girls and improving their well-being?

Educational and awareness programs, perhaps in partnership with Leon County Schools (as they are completely separate from the Commission), in order to create anti-bullying campaigns and groups that can help victims of bullying feel comfortable speaking to someone about the issue.

Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a serious and pressing issue in our community. How do you propose to address this form of exploitation?

Working with law enforcement to create educational citizen programs that can teach the signs of trafficking to watch for, as well as then ensuring that law enforcement have the proper staffing and tools at their disposal to properly tackle this problem.

The LGBTQ community is underserved in Tallahassee-Leon County and one of the most vulnerable to economic and housing discrimination, and physical violence. What policies or programs do you propose to protect and support this segment of the population?

Ordinances creating non-discriminatory requirements for employers and housing would be a first step towards ensuring that are given an equal opportunity to get jobs and find homes. Also ensuring law enforcement is trained and staffed to tackle the problem of physical violence against these individuals.

Safe, quality, affordable childcare and housing are increasingly out of reach for families in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are your ideas for addressing the widening gap between essential services and residents’ ability to pay for them?

I am in full support of the Children’s Service Council ballot measure in 2020, and hope to help shape the plain for the Council to be able to address these issues through different programs.

What ideas do you have for improving access to quality, comprehensive healthcare (including mental health) for women in Tallahassee-Leon County? Also, do you support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights?

Working with local mental health advocates to hear their concerns and where we can improve has become incredibly important to me over this campaign. I will be the first to admit that I’m not an expert on these issues, however we do have experts right here at home or are yearning to talk to us and help guide us towards a better future in this field, and we need to listen to them. Yes, I support a women’s right to choose.

How do you propose to improve public transportation, which could include reducing transit time, extending schedule hours, and increasing stops and/or routes?

Increasing partnerships with the City of Tallahassee, and providing funding assistance, in order to expand the bus and public transportation system to more residents of Leon County who live in areas not served by current public transportation options. Additional funding would help to create more stops, increase staff (and therefore hours it can run, as well as the number of busses), and improve the conditions of public transportation to make it a more viable option for people currently underserved.

 

 

Candidate: Emily Fritz

Running for: Leon County Commission, District 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the 2017 Leon County Community Health Assessment, approximately 1 in 4 people live in poverty. Single parents are 4 times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households. Forty percent of children live in single parent households, and 80% of single parent households are headed by women. What policies or programs do you propose to reduce poverty and improve financial stability for single mothers in Tallahassee?

Better economic opportunities can help single mothers, and all women, improve their financial situations. The county needs to create a business climate that will bring more job opportunities to the community. We need to be sure that single women are aware of all the state funded programs that are available to them.

Leon County ranks 38 out of 67 counties in Florida with a Gender Earnings Ratio of 84.1%, meaning that women earn $0.84 to every dollar earned by men in comparable positions. This figure is down from five years ago when the ratio was 89%. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap, and what are your ideas for eliminating wage disparity?

The gender pay gap is a sensitive issue to me, since I have experienced it myself. As a county commissioner I can assure that female county employees are compensated the same as men for the same job. County commissioners are not involved with hiring and firing, but I will encourage the county administrator to hire and promote more qualified women. Performance standards must be the same for women and men. The county has no authority over private businesses but hopefully the county can set an example for them.

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

I will assure that the Sheriff has the resources he needs to protect women. The county can assist with public awareness efforts to make women more aware of how to protect themselves. The county also needs to provide adequate lighting to reduce the likelihood of women becoming victims.

Domestic abuse remains a significant threat to women in our community, one that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. What are your ideas for protecting women from abuse, in all forms, in their homes?

I was introduced to domestic violence in 2003 when a former employee of mine was murdered by her husband. In retrospect, those who knew her realized there were warning signs, but the signs were subtle. Increased public awareness can assist friends and family to notice warning signs and encourage women to leave dangerous situations. I will defer to the Sheriff on how to handle the law enforcement component.

Bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide is rising for girls in our community, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. What are your ideas for protecting girls and improving their well-being?

These are very complicated social issues, and early identification of these problems is critical. Young women are in the custody of the school district most of the day. School personnel and classmates are the best sources of information about which girls are at risk. The county does not establish school district policies, and I need to learn more about what the school district is currently doing to address these problems. I will encourage the Leon County Health Department to apply for grant funds and work with the school district. Encouraging adult mentors to work with these young women can be very helpful. The county needs to assess what the nonprofit organizations that it funds are doing to address these issues.

Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a serious and pressing issue in our community. How do you propose to address this form of exploitation?

I am interested in learning more about this issue. Because it is a law enforcement issue, I will defer to the Sheriff on the best methods to confront this problem.

The LGBTQ community is underserved in Tallahassee-Leon County and one of the most vulnerable to economic and housing discrimination, and physical violence. What policies or programs do you propose to protect and support this segment of the population?

I believe LGBTQ people deserve to be treated with respect and have the same rights as all other people. In 2010 the Leon County Commission adopted a human rights ordinance. From what I am able to determine, the ordinance appears to be comprehensive. If I am informed of the need to review it, I will be happy to do so.

Safe, quality, affordable childcare and housing are increasingly out of reach for families in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are your ideas for addressing the widening gap between essential services and residents’ ability to pay for them?

Leon County is an expensive place to live, and the middle class are struggling to make ends meet. We can lower the cost of living by lowering the costs of businesses to operate in Leon County. When business costs are lower, they will charge less for their goods and services. Holding the line on property taxes will make housing more affordable.

What ideas do you have for improving access to quality, comprehensive healthcare (including mental health) for women in Tallahassee-Leon County? Also, do you support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights?

The county’s primary care program is inefficient and needs to be improved. In 2017, the primary care program had 1,000 fewer patient encounters than 2016. Access to health care will improve when the FSU College of Medicine opens its primary care clinic. The medical school is also adding new residency programs, which will increase access to care. The county has no jurisdiction over women’s reproductive rights, as these are governed by state law.

How do you propose to improve public transportation, which could include reducing transit time, extending schedule hours, and increasing stops and/or routes?

Our public transportation system is not ideal. However, public transportation is provided by the city, and the county has no jurisdiction.

 

 

Candidate: Rick Minor

Running for: Leon County Commission, District 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the 2017 Leon County Community Health Assessment, approximately 1 in 4 people live in poverty. Single parents are 4 times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households. Forty percent of children live in single parent households, and 80% of single parent households are headed by women. What policies or programs do you propose to reduce poverty and improve financial stability for single mothers in Tallahassee?

I’m interested in expanding access to existing vocational training and entrepreneurial resources within our community. While we have a number of excellent educational programs available, barriers to accessing those programs – such as lack of transportation or childcare options – can make it impossible for single mothers to participate. Via the Office of Economic Vitality, I’d like to explore ways to provide wrap-around services that empower single moms to continue their educations and/or seek new certifications in order to secure higher-paying jobs. Additionally, I support the creation of the Children’s Services Council as a way to ensure that more children in our community have access to the resources they need to meet their full potential. Some of these resources, such as access to quality early childhood education, also support working mothers in their quest to go to work and/or seek additional education themselves.

Leon County ranks 38 out of 67 counties in Florida with a Gender Earnings Ratio of 84.1%, meaning that women earn $0.84 to every dollar earned by men in comparable positions. This figure is down from five years ago when the ratio was 89%. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap, and what are your ideas for eliminating wage disparity?

As a major employer in our community, Leon County must lead the way in demonstrating pay equity and establishing policies that private sector employers can use as a model for their own workplaces. To its credit, a recent study ordered by the County Commission found that the median pay among Leon County employees is slightly higher for women than it is for men. This demonstrates that equity is possible, even in large organizations with a robust variety of job roles and functions.

Additionally, broad community education about wage disparity is necessary to ensure that citizens recognize discriminatory practices when they see/experience them and they have the tools and knowledge to challenge those practices. It’s important to increase awareness of how the wage gap is a hindrance to our community’s growth. When workers are discriminated against, it artificially depresses their earning power and has a downward effect on the entire economy.

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

Thanks to the efforts to the Tallahassee/Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, both Leon County and the City of Tallahassee have adopted comprehensive policies with regard to domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence and stalking in the workplace. I would like to see these policies adopted by other local employers and I hope our community can do a better job discussing what we need to do to keep citizens safe.

In addition, bystander intervention training provided to employees within particular businesses – such as restaurant workers, taxi drivers or even hair stylists – can make a significant improvement in providing assistance to women who might not otherwise seek help on their own.

Domestic abuse remains a significant threat to women in our community, one that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. What are your ideas for protecting women from abuse, in all forms, in their homes?

First and foremost, we need a culture change with regard to violence against women. There should be no question that all forms of violence against women, including domestic, are unacceptable and that perpetrators must be held accountable. Local government can play a big role in modeling that norm. We should also ensure that we have adequate policies in place to guide law enforcement’s response to cases involving violence against women.

Bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide is rising for girls in our community, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. What are your ideas for protecting girls and improving their well-being?

If elected as a County Commissioner, I will certainly partner with the Leon County Schools’ Superintendent and School Board, as well as parents, to do everything we can to protect girls from bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide. We must continually strive for policies that minimize or prevent these problems from even emerging among our youth.

I will also be strong advocate for increased mental health care, counseling and addiction treatment. The quicker and more effectively we can address these issues among our girls, the more quickly they can live up to their full potential.

Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a serious and pressing issue in our community. How do you propose to address this form of exploitation?

Our community must do a better job of recognizing human trafficking. Currently, many citizens – and even, in some cases, law enforcement – are unclear about the signs of trafficking and would not be able to recognize a situation in which a person is being forced to work against their will. Although we often associate this problem with other communities, there have been and will continue to be instances of human trafficking in Leon County until we enact community-wide awareness and bystander intervention training. Denying the problem only allows it to continue; we must confront it head-on through multiple means, including: education of citizens and bystanders, proper training and support for law enforcement, and sufficient resources for victims so that they can re-establish their lives away from an oppressor.

The LGBTQ community is underserved in Tallahassee-Leon County and one of the most vulnerable to economic and housing discrimination, and physical violence. What policies or programs do you propose to protect and support this segment of the population?

I am proud to have been endorsed by the Equality Florida Action PAC for my longstanding support of equality and fairness for all citizens. I am also proud to be living in a county that has passed a Human Rights Ordinance.

But there is much more that can be done, and as a Commissioner I will continually seek ways to protect members of the LGBTQ community from discrimination and violence. I’m also a strong supporter of Equality Florida’s “Equality Means Business” initiative, which increases awareness of the negative economic impact of discrimination in the workplace. As noted by Equality Florida, “Florida employers are losing more than $362 million annually in productivity and turnover costs alone.” Thus, we can strengthen our local economy by encouraging more Leon County businesses to adopt internal policies that protect LGBTQ employees.

Safe, quality, affordable childcare and housing are increasingly out of reach for families in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are your ideas for addressing the widening gap between essential services and residents’ ability to pay for them?

The Children’s Services Council has great potential to increase local access to affordable childcare, and I support its creation as a means to generate additional resources for our community’s kids. I am also open to other ideas and suggestions that will result in more local families being able to access the high-quality childcare they need in order to thrive.

In terms of affordable housing, I am excited about the efforts currently underway to redevelop the Orange Avenue Apartments, and also by community conversations around neighborhood revitalization in some of Leon County’s most economically challenged areas. I support initiatives to increase home ownership as a means of building long-term wealth, but also recognize the value of and need for high-quality, affordable rental housing for our community’s residents.

What ideas do you have for improving access to quality, comprehensive healthcare (including mental health) for women in Tallahassee-Leon County? Also, do you support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights?

The County can continue to support Carenet, the public/private collaboration that provides care to uninsured residents and working families. I will work with Carenet partners such as TMH, the FAMU College of Pharmacy, and Bond to expand preventive care, so the uninsured aren’t forced to seek more expensive medical care later, in an emergency room.

I support the right of all women to make reproductive health decisions free from governmental interference, and I would support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights.

How do you propose to improve public transportation, which could include reducing transit time, extending schedule hours, and increasing stops and/or routes?

While the City of Tallahassee has jurisdiction over StarMetro, County Commissioners can still provide significant input on transportation and mobility within our community via Comprehensive Plan amendments, the Tallahassee-Leon County Long Range Transportation Plan, and the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).

Too often, people with low incomes have limited transportation options, inhibiting their ability to go to school or work. This, in turn, makes it even more difficult for them to lift themselves out of poverty. As a Commissioner, I’ll seek ways to increase public transportation options, such as exploring the viability of a StarMetro route to/from the airport (to assist airport employees) or contracting with the City to provide a route to/from Woodville (to help low-income families in that area).

 

 

Candidate: Dianne Wiliams-Cox

Running for: City Commission, Seat 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the 2017 Leon County Community Health Assessment, approximately 1 in 4 people live in poverty. Single parents are 4 times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households. Forty percent of children live in single parent households, and 80% of single parent households are headed by women. What policies or programs do you propose to reduce poverty and improve financial stability for single mothers in Tallahassee?

I propose paying a livable wage and providing a special leave pool that will allow single mothers to be able to care for their children without having to use vacation time.

Leon County ranks 38 out of 67 counties in Florida with a Gender Earnings Ratio of 84.1%, meaning that women earn $0.84 to every dollar earned by men in comparable positions. This figure is down from five years ago when the ratio was 89%. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap, and what are your ideas for eliminating wage disparity?

I believe in equal pay for equal work and will continue to fight for the approval of this policy. Working to elect more women to be at the table to make these decisions is my strategy to change this policy.

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

I believe that education on what to do if it happens is a factor as well as strategies for how to prevent, such as the buddy system when that uncomfortable feeling arises. I also believe that more convictions would send a message to the perpetrator as well as speeding up the processing of rape kits to get the convictions.

Domestic abuse remains a significant threat to women in our community, one that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. What are your ideas for protecting women from abuse, in all forms, in their homes?

Education, awareness and escape are tools that I would use to help protect women from this societal ill. Making sure that there are safe spaces in our community for women who seek help is also very necessary.

Bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide is rising for girls in our community, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. What are your ideas for protecting girls and improving their well-being?

We need to empower our girls to change this culture of the mean girl syndrome and restore a cultural of being proud to be a girl. This does not mean that girls cannot be expressive and creative, but that we need to do a better job of helping them cope with who they are…beautiful inside and outside.

Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a serious and pressing issue in our community. How do you propose to address this form of exploitation?

I currently work with a non-profit on the forefront of dealing with this heinous crime. We need to identify and embrace more organizations to provide assistance and safe spaces for reporting to help eliminate this problem without judgement or accusation.

The LGBTQ community is underserved in Tallahassee-Leon County and one of the most vulnerable to economic and housing discrimination, and physical violence. What policies or programs do you propose to protect and support this segment of the population?

I propose that we develop and enforce a equal treatment for all regardless of their sexual orientation. As a member of the local Capital Equality organization, I fully support fair and equal treatment of the LGBTQ community and will advocate for this community as with others.

Safe, quality, affordable childcare and housing are increasingly out of reach for families in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are your ideas for addressing the widening gap between essential services and residents’ ability to pay for them?

Making sure that all have access to livable wages, training for jobs with higher wages and access to health benefits and housing will be my focus to help close this gap.

What ideas do you have for improving access to quality, comprehensive healthcare (including mental health) for women in Tallahassee-Leon County? Also, do you support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights?

Low cost or no cost access to healthcare is greatly needed in our community and lack thereof is the cause of so many other negative outcomes in our community. I will continue to advocate for stronger healthcare for all residents and I believe in putting the choice for reproductive rights in the hands of the woman.

How do you propose to improve public transportation, which could include reducing transit time, extending schedule hours, and increasing stops and/or routes?

An evaluation of what currently exists and the projected growth over the next year, 5 years and 10 years is needed to do a real analysis of what is needed. Armed with this information, I will support the will of the residents to improve this situation.

 

 

Candidate: Carrie Litherland

Running for: Mayor (City Commission, Seat 4)

 

 

 

 

 

According to the 2017 Leon County Community Health Assessment, approximately 1 in 4 people live in poverty. Single parents are 4 times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households. Forty percent of children live in single parent households, and 80% of single parent households are headed by women. What policies or programs do you propose to reduce poverty and improve financial stability for single mothers in Tallahassee?

As a single mother myself, I understand the challenges single-parent homes face and how hard it is to escape poverty. It is so important we as a city provide the right resources to end the cycle. For single primary caregivers the concerns are often paying bills, living in a safe area with a safe home, transportation, somewhere safe to leave your babies, and sick leave.
First, we can look at our minimum wage. We first need to discuss this with our state counterparts to deal with the preemption issue. After we can exercise home rule, we need to take a hard look at what the right wage requirement is for a single family to thrive in our community. While we wait on the State, we can first implement the higher wage with our city employees and require any city vendor or contact has the higher wage requirement. We can also do this with paid parental leave and sick leave.
We need to make sure we are providing safe, affordable housing options. This is beyond the traditional low -income housing solutions but providing more assistance to the Lending Consortium to help with the First Time Home Buyers classes and grant programs, working with developers who value single family styled homes, and making sure all neighborhoods has access to the same safe parks, roadways, and sidewalks. I would look into what we can do to attract more kids back to our recreation centers to provide them with after-school activities that are engaging, fun and useful.
We need to look at our bus system and figure out to really make it work for residents and discuss options (such as the city operating or finding existing childcare services willing to take part) for providing childcare services on an income sliding scale that offer after 5pm child care for single parents who often work multiple jobs.
I would work with colleges to put together a program for mothers who work and provide childcare to allow them to gain practical skills to go for higher paying jobs.

Leon County ranks 38 out of 67 counties in Florida with a Gender Earnings Ratio of 84.1%, meaning that women earn $0.84 to every dollar earned by men in comparable positions. This figure is down from five years ago when the ratio was 89%. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap, and what are your ideas for eliminating wage disparity?

Unfortunately, we still face a gender pay gap. I see it first hand in my field and watched as my mother had to go back to school to get her master’s degree to make the same as her male counterparts who only held bachelor degrees. We need to take an inventory of all of our city employees, their wages and job descriptions. We need to make sure that our IT employees are being paid the same as our HR employees to make sure we aren’t creating a wage gap by a difference in pay in the typical male or female positions. We should require the same standards for any business that works with the city or receives public funds. There is no room for pay inequality in Tallahassee.

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

At the least there needs to be an open door policy for city employees that protects victims and investigated any claim. I would want to work with our Independent Ethics Board on how we could wrap a strong policy regarding workplace sexual violence into our ethics codes. We also need to take careful consideration of protecting our LGBT community from experiencing any sexual violence as they have been left out of the conversation but experience a high rate of sexual assault and battery. I would like to see the city working with our community partners to make sure there are resources to report and heal after something has occurred.
We need to get ahead of the issue and I believe with more community engagement and community policing we will see a decrease in public sexual assault. Lastly, we can not ignore that these incidents happen on our college campuses. We need to have a real community conversation with our university and college leaders to discuss how we can curb the culture that has created the need for #metoo movement.

Domestic abuse remains a significant threat to women in our community, one that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. What are your ideas for protecting women from abuse, in all forms, in their homes?

I believe there is a need for education about services for help, campaign for awareness and education, and we need to think innovatively about how to assist victims of domestic violence in being able to safely report and seek help. We need to make sure we are funding our community partners who assist victims of domestic violence.

Bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide is rising for girls in our community, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. What are your ideas for protecting girls and improving their well-being?

Providing mental health resources has been a pillar of this campaign from the beginning. We need to address mental health in the same way we address our physical health. You do not have to have a mental illness to be mentally unhealthy and I believe all the issues above stem from being unhealthy. Therefore we must provide not only adequate resources but serve as leaders in the mental health field in providing resources to our residents. I have proposed creating a federally funded drop-in center that serves the public who are not quiet yet in crisis but can not wait six months to get in with a therapist or psychiatrist. The drop-in center would have peer specialist, therapist and psychiatrists on staff every day to serve walkins. I want to partner with the Apalachee center and a local pharmacy to provide medication at low costs within or near the facility. The drop-in center would also serve as a community resource for nonprofits to teach a class, host events and host support groups.
I would like to discuss creating a quick transfer line from our 9-1-1 emergency line to our 2-1-1 Crisis intervention line to streamline the process and get individuals the help they need quicker.
Lastly, I want the city to start the conversation between our higher education institutions and our hospitals to put together an apprenticeship and residency program from our Psych Master and PHD students to keep them here and help our shortage to decrease the time it takes to see someone.

Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a serious and pressing issue in our community. How do you propose to address this form of exploitation?

Tallahassee sits in a very critical position with major highways surrounding us, having an airport and heavy agriculture areas nearby. The number to seek help and report trafficking needs to be at every bus stop, in our airport and on billboards around town. We need to make sure we are providing wrap around services for the victims to help them job training, housing and healing and can do this by working with community partners.

The LGBTQ community is underserved in Tallahassee-Leon County and one of the most vulnerable to economic and housing discrimination, and physical violence. What policies or programs do you propose to protect and support this segment of the population?

I was amazed to learn Tallahassee does not have any place to serve as a resource to our LGBT community. During Pride month I would like to see the city engage more and aim to educate the public about our LGBT community. Through this education I believe we will see more support and community led resources. As Mayor I will absolutely uphold our anti-discrimination housing ordinance and see what we can do to strength protections in the workplace.

Safe, quality, affordable childcare and housing are increasingly out of reach for families in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are your ideas for addressing the widening gap between essential services and residents’ ability to pay for them?

I took the Lending Consortium First Time Home Buyers class and fully believe in the work they do. Funding their group would be a top priority for me. Through education on debt, financial planning and buying a home we can get residents in safe affordable homes. Additionally, we need to make sure our low-income housing isn’t just shanty apartments but safe homes where people can feel pride and not like second-class citizens. For childcare I have proposed looking into our recreation centers for programs for our older youth and looking into an after hours child care service for working families.

What ideas do you have for improving access to quality, comprehensive healthcare (including mental health) for women in Tallahassee-Leon County? Also, do you support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights?

Above I have discussed my plan for addressing mental health in our community but it is important to note that mental health disproportionately affects women and having access to quality care in a reasonable amount of time is essential to keep us in the workplace and able to provide for our families. As we all know, we generally take the brunt of family care and the majority of single-parent families are headed by women so it is so important we have access.
Yes, absolutely. Whether I become Mayor or not, I will make sure Tallahassee residents always have access to reproductive health care.

How do you propose to improve public transportation, which could include reducing transit time, extending schedule hours, and increasing stops and/or routes?

As I mentioned in a previous question, we need to take a comprehensive look at our bus system. A very small portion of our population utilizes our bus system for reason. When I tried to ride the bus to work, the normal 15 minute drive would have been a ridiculous two hour ordeal. We need to take a deep dive into our existing system and infrastructure and look to other successful cities on how to plan better routes with quicker times. I am absolutely in favor of extending our bus hours to help our families who work multiple jobs to care for their families.
I have also proposed a comprehensive city app that would include our transportation system (bus, ride share, bike share, and airport) to easily access, plan and pay in one place.

 

 

Candidate: Bill Schack

Running for: City Commission, Seat 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the 2017 Leon County Community Health Assessment, approximately 1 in 4 people live in poverty. Single parents are 4 times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households. Forty percent of children live in single parent households, and 80% of single parent households are headed by women. What policies or programs do you propose to reduce poverty and improve financial stability for single mothers in Tallahassee?

Tallahassee has many non-profit organizations that have passionate leaders, and willing volunteers to help many families. The problem is, they do not have enough funds to reach more. I am an advocate for allocating resources to help these organizations reach more people. We must get programs into our schools to teach young women and men about respect for themsleves, and give the hope for a bright future. We must give single mother’s the tools they need to bring up their children correctly. We must have tough talk with families about the responsability of raising a family and what that really means for the child’s future.

Leon County ranks 38 out of 67 counties in Florida with a Gender Earnings Ratio of 84.1%, meaning that women earn $0.84 to every dollar earned by men in comparable positions. This figure is down from five years ago when the ratio was 89%. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap, and what are your ideas for eliminating wage disparity?

I am a common sense type person, and if there is a company that pays a different wage for the same work based on sex, that should be a company that no one works for. They should be outed as a company that has a wage gap. Let’s teach girls in school that they are not someone who should accept less than a man. I think you elimnate wage disparity by making it known who does it.

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

We need to have programs that allow women the opportuniy to say something. There should be a no tolerance policy when it come to exploiting women in any manner. Women need to feel that their voice will be heard.

Domestic abuse remains a significant threat to women in our community, one that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. What are your ideas for protecting women from abuse, in all forms, in their homes?

Once again, we need tough talk, and serious consequences for offenders. FIlling jails with minor drig offenders is not the answer. In my opinion, when someone hurts someoen else, that is a more critical crime. We need stronger laws against abuse of any kind.

Bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide is rising for girls in our community, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. What are your ideas for protecting girls and improving their well-being?

We need to bring a DARE type program back in schools. All of our youth need to have someoen they can talk to, someone who will teach them about their health, drug abuse, bullying, and social media issues that face the youth of today. Couselors in all schools should help, but it is more critical that teachers recognize the signs of trouble. In addition, we need to create mentor type clubs in every school, so students can talk to students.

Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a serious and pressing issue in our community. How do you propose to address this form of exploitation?

Stronger laws and stiffer punishment for any crime of humna trafficking.

The LGBTQ community is underserved in Tallahassee-Leon County and one of the most vulnerable to economic and housing discrimination, and physical violence. What policies or programs do you propose to protect and support this segment of the population?

Once again, those who discriminate in any fashion need to be outed and held accountable in their community, and with their customers.

Safe, quality, affordable childcare and housing are increasingly out of reach for families in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are your ideas for addressing the widening gap between essential services and residents’ ability to pay for them?

There are so many ways to help with affordable housing. The City should start a land trust so people can affrod housing without having to pay fo rthe land. Tallahassee has plenty of land to build affordable housing on. In addition, what is the largest expense by homeowners? The utility bill. As we grow solar in our community, let’s put solar panels on homes in some of the poorest neighborhoods, and for that service, those customers do not pay for electricity. We must find way to help make owning a home affordable. Childcare is outrageous in every community, and assitance may be an important way to reduce the burden of many families.

What ideas do you have for improving access to quality, comprehensive healthcare (including mental health) for women in Tallahassee-Leon County? Also, do you support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights?

We absolutley need to bring affordable healthcare to everyone. We need to focus on mental health issues wiht action, not more talk. So let’s get the facilities we need to help reach people suffering. I do not think we a seperate local ordinance for protecting women’s reproductive rights.

How do you propose to improve public transportation, which could include reducing transit time, extending schedule hours, and increasing stops and/or routes?

Our public transportation in under utilized, and we should find ways to fill our buses, and expand routes so more people can access this system. We need to eliminate the downtown trolley that has minimal usage and put that money into hiring ore drivers to create jobs, and eliminate unneccessary overtime.

 

 

Candidate: Alva Striplin

Running for: Leon County School Board, District 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the 2017 Leon County Community Health Assessment, approximately 1 in 4 people live in poverty. Single parents are 4 times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households. Forty percent of children live in single parent households, and 80% of single parent households are headed by women. What policies or programs do you propose to reduce poverty and improve financial stability for single mothers in Tallahassee?

When I ran four years ago, I was a single mother raising three children living on a teacher’s salary of $37,000 a year. When my kids wanted to play sports, I had to say no because we could not afford it, even after I volunteered and tried to raise the money. That is why, in this last budget, we approved an increase of $700,000 for extracurricular activities to lessen the burden on parents.  We also allocated $300,000 to classroom supplies.  I will continue to reduce wasteful spending at the district and find money to increase student participation. We will also continue to support pre-k programs and afterschool programs to help single parent homes.

Leon County ranks 38 out of 67 counties in Florida with a Gender Earnings Ratio of 84.1%, meaning that women earn $0.84 to every dollar earned by men in comparable positions. This figure is down from five years ago when the ratio was 89%. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap, and what are your ideas for eliminating wage disparity?

In the last four years, we increased pay for our support staff, their first raise in over a decade.  This included raises for food service workers, bus drivers, substitute teachers and teacher aides.  Just this month, we raised the lowest wage workers in Leon County Schools from $9.59/hr to $11.09/hr.  We will continue to look for ways to put more money into the pay scale for all of our employees. Raising teacher salaries has always been one of my top priorities, regardless of gender.  I have supported every pay raise for employees that has come before the board and will continue to support raises for our employees. Our teachers and support staff are predominantly women and by getting them these raises, we will help lower this gap.

Another way that we will continue to fight this gender gap is to lobby our legislature to increase funding for public education, a field dominated by female employees. We need to increase funding for education so that we can provide programs that will support families and retain valuable employees with higher wages.

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

In our last board meeting, I proposed that we add policies to address this issue. We will create a clear and concise policy that address nepotism and dating in our work force. This is one way to protect our employees from sexual harassment and violence.  All of our school employees should work in an environment where they know this behavior will not be tolerated.  We are also implementing a variety of mental wellness components in all of our schools so that young students will have someone to reach out to for emotional support. By training our students on how to communicate to others in crisis, we will be able to identify and protect all of children.

Domestic abuse remains a significant threat to women in our community, one that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. What are your ideas for protecting women from abuse, in all forms, in their homes?

Protecting our students and employees is an issue I take seriously and one of my main campaign issues. I will continue to look for ways to address this in our school and in our community. We have increased the amount of mental health care professionals in our district and will have a counselor or specialist at every school. I am constantly looking for programs to help address this issue and discovered a program that we are piloting at Montford Middle School called Sources of Strength.  This peer led initiative engages a large portion of the school community and encourages students to share their feelings that would otherwise lead to possible self destructive behaviors.

Bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide is rising for girls in our community, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. What are your ideas for protecting girls and improving their well-being?

This is part of a greater community issue and Leon County Schools will be a front-runner in addressing these issues under my watch. We will continue to look for funding to help address programs that help students. This year we added $700,000 dollars to the budget for after school programs and extracurricular activities. We are putting counselors in every school, and are constantly looking around the state and around the country for programs that will help students. I also want to work with our city and county to look for ways that we can work together to address these issues.  And as mentioned above, Sources of Strength is a suicide prevention program that is seeing results at schools all over the country and will be piloted here at Montford Middle School.

Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a serious and pressing issue in our community. How do you propose to address this form of exploitation?

In our schools, our teachers will continue to be trained to identify these issues. Under my leadership, we will look for ways to collaborate with our other local governments to address these issues. We will do everything we can do to protect our children and I am spearheading efforts to engage peer-to-peer counseling. Most children, especially middle and high school, are going to first talk to a friend.  We may only get one chance to save these vulnerable children and I want every student to know what they can do to help each other.

The LGBTQ community is underserved in Tallahassee-Leon County and one of the most vulnerable to economic and housing discrimination, and physical violence. What policies or programs do you propose to protect and support this segment of the population?

Leon County Schools will foster an inclusive learning environment for all of our students. With the board, I will always make decisions that will protect all of our students. Our faculty and staff will be trained on how to best serve all students and treat all fairly.  I am proud to be a part of the Leon County Schools Safe Zone program which provides resources within each school to support our LGBTQ+ students. LGBTQ+ Safe Zone Allies are identified by Safe Zone logo on their office or classroom. The logo means that teacher or faculty member’s room is a safe place for all students. It means the teacher or faculty member is a personal contact in whom the students can confide regarding issues related to gender identity or sexual orientation.

Safe, quality, affordable childcare and housing are increasingly out of reach for families in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are your ideas for addressing the widening gap between essential services and residents’ ability to pay for them?

We must continue to advocate for the support of our traditional public schools at the state level.   I will continue to lobby the state to improve funding, reduce testing, and keep tax dollars in our traditional public schools.

Under my leadership, we have eliminated fiscal waste and improved efficient spending during the last four years, but this is a constant vigil. I will continue to ensure that we are using your taxpayer dollars in the best way possible. By focusing on accountability and reducing waste, this will allow us to squeeze every dollar and push that money into the classrooms. We will be providing more opportunities for students before and after school after we increased spending in afterschool programs.

What ideas do you have for improving access to quality, comprehensive healthcare (including mental health) for women in Tallahassee-Leon County? Also, do you support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights?

Leon County uses a community school model. We are looking for ways to provide wrap around services at as many schools as we can. If we can help in preventative care for our children, we can reduce the cost of healthcare and save money and save lives.

I support affordable health care for all. If an ordinance were needed, I would support one that addressed improved healthcare for all children. This issue needs to be addressed at the state level. That is why I will continue to lobby the state to improve funding for all children, including health care.

How do you propose to improve public transportation, which could include reducing transit time, extending schedule hours, and increasing stops and/or routes?

We are going to improve bus routes for our students. My goal is that no child has to stand at a bus stop in the dark.

Students are now allowed to ride the city bus free. We will continue to partner with the city to look for ways to improve public transportation for our children.

 

 

Candidate: Dustin Daniels

Running for: Mayor (City Commission, Seat 4)

 

 

 

 

According to the 2017 Leon County Community Health Assessment, approximately 1 in 4 people live in poverty. Single parents are 4 times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households. Forty percent of children live in single parent households, and 80% of single parent households are headed by women. What policies or programs do you propose to reduce poverty and improve financial stability for single mothers in Tallahassee?

 

 

 

 

Leon County ranks 38 out of 67 counties in Florida with a Gender Earnings Ratio of 84.1%, meaning that women earn $0.84 to every dollar earned by men in comparable positions. This figure is down from five years ago when the ratio was 89%. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap, and what are your ideas for eliminating wage disparity?

 

 

 

 

According to preliminary data collected in 2018 by the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, nearly half of the women surveyed have experienced sexual violence in the past year. What policies or programs do you propose for protecting women in public spaces and the workplace?

Domestic abuse remains a significant threat to women in our community, one that crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. What are your ideas for protecting women from abuse, in all forms, in their homes?

Bullying, cyber-bullying, substance abuse, school disciplinary actions, and suicide is rising for girls in our community, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. What are your ideas for protecting girls and improving their well-being?

Human trafficking, both sex and labor, is a serious and pressing issue in our community. How do you propose to address this form of exploitation?

 

 

 

 

The LGBTQ community is underserved in Tallahassee-Leon County and one of the most vulnerable to economic and housing discrimination, and physical violence. What policies or programs do you propose to protect and support this segment of the population?

 

Safe, quality, affordable childcare and housing are increasingly out of reach for families in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are your ideas for addressing the widening gap between essential services and residents’ ability to pay for them?

 

 

 

 

What ideas do you have for improving access to quality, comprehensive healthcare (including mental health) for women in Tallahassee-Leon County? Also, do you support a local ordinance protecting women’s reproductive rights?

 

 

 

 

 

How do you propose to improve public transportation, which could include reducing transit time, extending schedule hours, and increasing stops and/or routes?