Last night, 5 of the 7 Candidates for Florida House 31 participated in forum, where they talked about a variety of issues stemming from Education to Healthcare in front of a crowd of about 70 parents and students at the Liberty Christian Prep.
Health Care Exec Randy Glisson, Businesswoman Terri Seefeldt, Youth Development Leader Jennifer Sullivan, Business Owner Betty Hensinger, and Former Teacher Union Leader Belita “B” Grassel were in attendance and covered a lot of ground.
Here are some of the questions asked:
Why are you the best candidate for the Job?
Randy Glisson said his experience running a business and having to provide for 18 employees gave him a leadership edge.
Betty Hensinger said that she built a business from the ground up and she had “a skill set unequaled by her opponents.
Terri Seefeldt mentioned that she had been all over the country talking to audiences about Obamacare and that she had also been a business owner in the past.
Belita Grassel described herself as a moderate who “believed in a hand up not a hand out” and listed jobs shes had such as an RN, Guidance Counselor.
Jennifer Sullivan warned the audience not to let her age fool her and that she had been working since she was 8. She also told the crowd that she was from their generation and new of the challenges ahead. “It’s up to you to decide what you want in a candidate”.
What was the main cause of the shutdown?
Each candidate went at the question from different angles. Seefeldt brought up the contrast between the parties and called the barricading of Veterans from National Memorials “Sinful” and “Disgusting”. . Glisson focused on Obamacare and used his healthcare background to point out that it will change the Doctor/Patient relationship. Sullivan blamed a “Culture of Corruption” and that we had grown complacent electing officials that weren’t up there to represent the people. Grassel said like it or not Obamacare is the law.
Do you feel Common Core will have a Positive or Negative Effect on Education?
Hensinger said it would have a negative impact. Sullivan said our students were in competition with the rest of the world and she wasn’t convinced it would work because of the ties to the Government. Glisson also brought up Geography “What works in NYC won’t work in Tavares”. Grassel said that we need the standards but the curriculum needs to be local. Sullivan said we needed a “Student Centered” program and that it infringes on the rights of the homeschooled and private school students.
What are your thoughts on the standards between Private and Public Schools being the same?
A lot of the candidates had ties to Private or Homeschooling. Sullivan herself was home-schooled and warned of clumsy standards hurting the higher education application process. Hensiger home-schooled her 3 sons. Seefeldt’s Son went to Private School for a part of his education and she believed their standards were tougher. Grassel said Private Schools had their own boards and had to be regulated locally but felt school choice was important. Glisson said he was a believer of educational choice and would not like to the current standards pushed into all of the systems.
What is the most pressing issued in District 31?
Seefeldt said a reduction of the Tax Base that effects businesses. She says %60 of people that live in Lake County don’t work in Lake County.
Hensinger said putting people back to work so they can take care of their families and raise their kids. She praised Florida Governor Rick Scott on his progress.
Grassel said it was the Economy and that Education and Environment were job creators. She had a problem luring jobs from other areas of the country and bringing them to Florida.
Glisson said he wanted to be a job creator and to ensure we got ahead of the upcoming Health Care Problems.
Sullivan said Job Creation and Sustainability. “Government can’t create jobs and it’s not their role”.
An Audience Question was “Can you stand your ground while working with the other side”?
Hensinger praised the intentions of Texas Senator Ted Cruz but pointed out that he missed the mark and did not sacrifice what he believed in.
Randy Glisson said “It’s up to us to make a change. We can bring more American on-board and show them our Conservative Values work” but also pointed out “It takes a real person to walk across the aisle”
Sullivan and Seefeldt both pointed to the example of Congressman Daniel Webster.
Sullivan pointed out the relationship he had with Toni Jennings in the State Legislature “We need to make sure every bill gets heard and have a healthy debate”
Seefeldt brought up the Webster methodology of Bi-Partisanship and following that example.
Then Belita Grassel launched into a flurry of very “Alternative” Debate points for someone running in a Republican primary in a Conservative area.
In a very nervous tone she said..
“Mike Clelland and Castor-Dentel. I made campaign donations to them because if I believed half of what the Orlando Sentinel said that man (Chris Dorworth), with that past, could not be our House Speaker. Now, I don’t agree with everyone but I believe their logical. I believe we can work with them”.
Now, I understand the gravity of a remark like this one in a primary. While Dorworth lost in the most Conservative District in Central Florida, both Democrats, Castor-Dentel and Clelland are unpopular with Republicans from all over.
After the debate, I followed up with her and when asked to elaborate, she said “He’s not the kind of representation dealing with my money in Tallahassee” and said she made her decision on what she read in the Newspaper. When asked if her continued support of Clelland and Castor-Dentel would hurt her relationship with the Republicans running against them, she said no.
And she also said she supported Daniel Webster.
It was a fine event for a race that is still several months out. This will continue to be one of the more competitive races in the region with all of the candidates filing competitive fundraising numbers and continuing to campaign aggressively. The other Republican Joseph Stephens and the lone Democrat Jake Seymour did not attend. All are running to replace termed out incumbent Bryan Nelson.
The SGA did a great job with this forum and the Students that moderated the debate did better than some of their adult counter-parts. I thank them for their hospitality.
GET ALL OF MY NOTES ON THE FLORIDA HOUSE 31 RACE HERE