Orange County voters need to make the most historic decisions. Do we continue to allow the developers and big corporations to control our politics, destroy our environment and create economic inequality to increase their own profits, or do we fight to take back our government for a progressive agenda that encourages new businesses, creates quality jobs, protects our environment, solves our transportation issues and provides affordable housing? Are we ready to take on the wealthy and politically influential traditional campaign money and of self-interested developers, or do we continue to allow Orange County under a system in which the wealthy controls the government to inflate their net worth at the expense of the rest of us?

These are the most important decisions right now in Orange County and the actions that we take to answer them will determine what Orange County will become in the future.


Lake Pickett Protest

Irresponsible development and unmanaged growth in Orange County is the core for our economic struggles and destruction of our wildlife and natural resources. Other critical areas of concern are observed in the homelessness, decline of health, lack of public services and public safety providers. Public education is also affected, traffic jams, pedestrian and bike rider safety, disability accessibility and many others.

For the last 3 years, I have exposed the issues to my fellow Commissioners with research, and facts. I’m a Commissioner who cannot be bought. I represent the people, and their interests.

All of the issues in Orange County are due to irresponsible development, and they need to be assessed holistically. One issue affects another. I have worked with the Mayor, staff and other Commissioners to change how we do business in Orange County. We still have a long way to go, but slowly we are moving in the right direction.

Economics, Job Market, Homelessness

It is commonly misunderstood and misrepresented by economists and politicians that population growth is the same or equal to economic growth. This is a myth. There is no measured proof of this. Yes, more consumers can help boost economic growth. However, a large population with an economy that doesn’t supply the needed jobs/income stunts economic growth and costs the county beyond what it can afford to support the population. After my presentations of this to the Orange County Commissioners, the Mayor’s Economic Consultant Dr. Sean Snaith admitted to it in a 2016 presentation.

The county needs enough jobs to support the population. Currently the population in Orange County is growing at a rate that the job growth cannot keep up. This is causing low salary rates because competition for jobs is high. Salaries stay low because the employer can offer a job at a low salary and the employee will take it because there are no other options. With the loss of jobs due to the great recession in 2007, our homelessness rate has increased. The local economy may have bounced back, but others are still struggling.

Affordable Housing

The development and real estate industry in Orange County is not allowing for home values to increase because there is too much supply. However, if we also decrease the supply and allow home values to increase that also will decrease the amount of affordable housing available. With low salaries and wages in Orange County, higher home values will make it more difficult to afford a home. As home values increase, so do rents for home rentals. The more people seek apartments because of lack of affordable homes to purchase, the rents for apartments also increase because of lack of supply and increased demand.

There is a vicious cycle and sensitive relationship between the job market, homelessness and affordable housing. How the commissioners regulate businesses and developers affect all of these. Unfortunately, these decisions have been made with each in a bubble, excluding its effect on each other.

Land Use and the Environment

For the economic stability of every resident of Orange County, there needs to be a diversity of land uses. However, the rural and agricultural land uses are being taken over by urban land uses. According to studies done in Orange County, urban land uses cost more in tax dollars than it generates, however on the opposite end rural and agricultural land uses provide a surplus that subsidizes the costs of the urban land uses. Without rural and agricultural land uses the county will not be able to collect enough taxes to pay for all of the expenses.

Urban sprawl doesn’t benefit the county economically or environmentally and I have been actively working to protect Orange County from urban sprawl for the last 3 years. I will make sure that there is diverse land usage across Orange County for people to have diverse living options, to preserve wildlife habitat, to protect our environment and to conserve or economic resources.

In addition to protecting the rural and agricultural areas, I will encourage urban infill, which is filling in empty spaces (not greenspace) and revitalizing the urban areas. There are many undeveloped lands, vacant residential, and commercial buildings that need revitalizing.

Public Safety

Orange County traffic and public safety is out of control. The county has had the same Transportation Planning Manager in charge of traffic since 1997. Since then our situation has worsen with no relief in sight. I have reviewed the traffic studies — his conclusions and presentations to the county commissioners are not consistent. The Planning Manager has also been recorded making a false statement in a county meeting regarding a question that would determine whether another development gets approved. Our commissioner doesn’t read the traffic studies and relies on the Planning Manager for subject matter expertise.

I will work with the cities, state and other counties in fixing our traffic and public safety issues. We cannot let people continue to die because fixing the issues is too expensive. The cities, counties and state all have a responsibility to pay their share to fix the issues and all need to work together. I have been working with the county and the state on issues in my area of Orange County and I will continue to do it for all of Orange County as a commissioner.

Education and Skilled Workers

There are many issues with our current education system. Some are the fault of the “system” and some are the fault of the parents. As a parent, I understand that I have a responsibility for my child’s education. However, the school system that we chose and pay for (through taxes or tuition) have the responsibility to also provide my child with a fair and efficient educational system.

The system must protect my child from themselves and others while under their care, which I entrusted them to. The system must take into consideration that not all children behave or learn the same way and must account for that. The system must be responsible with the funds that we pay for the education and look out for the best interests of the children and parents and not of corporations that want to sell them educational materials or curriculum ideas that don’t work.

In addition to children’s education, we must have continued education options for adults. Technology continues to change and the older generations will be left behind and become unemployable if they are not provided affordable education options.

College students in Florida have lost their funding for scholarships in the last several years. These children are losing the opportunity to attend college if they cannot afford it or will leave college in debt that will take 10-30 years to pay off. They are starting off their adulthood at a disadvantage. I have a plan to help make college affordable for Orange County high school graduates.

Plan Moving Forward

Hold developers to a higher environmental standard when they construct.

Enact quotas of new housing development in proportion to available jobs to bolster wage.

Economic development outreach should be managed by the government – knowing the county itself best, will perform the task better with a higher return on investment.

Break up the private and public road partnerships to allow for more competition in the field of improving roadways for complete streets and accessibility.

Partner with businesses to subsidize our graduates’ college education to keep skilled talent in Orange County to attract higher paying quality jobs.

More to come.