Jacksonville is Full of Positivity and Potential
ETHICS AND TRANSPARENCY
It's a shame most people just expect politicians to be tied to less than ethical dealings these days. Many raise ridiculous sums of money through political committees to essentially subvert campaign finance law. Ben will NEVER have a political committee or take money from big money special interests. And once elected he will work hard to end attempts to undermine the law.
Holding our elected and appointed officials to the highest of ethical standards should be a no brainer, especially in the Sunshine State. Ben will lead by example and demonstrate that it is actually possible to be both transparent and effective in elected office. Ben will fight to protect and expand our Sunshine protections, so public agencies and officials can't hide from their constituents or the truth.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Collaborative governance is more than just a nice phrase. It means involving constituents in every step of the decision ladder. Hiding away in an office and writing legislation based on the information from special interests is no way to solve our community's issues. Ben will establish advisory boards made up of experts from across lines of difference to find common ground and build consensus on a host of important issues. Building real solutions to the issues affecting our district can only happen through collaboration.
Constituent services and acting as a resource are two of the most important roles any government office has and Ben's will live up to the highest of standards. Access to those who make decisions on our collective behalf is essential to a functional democracy and Ben will provide regular opportunities to voice concerns, share ideas, or just collect information.
All people deserve respect and dignity, especially in dealing with their government. We see far too many examples of people subjected to violent bigotry by not just their neighbors but those sworn to protect and serve. And while the majority of law enforcement are in it to truly protect and serve, those who are not ruin it. This cannot be in our country. Those who represent the law cannot be known for bending and breaking it with immunity. Ben will work to ensure disenfranchised voices are not just heard, but amplified and listened to. We must confront the reality of centuries of oppression and reconcile all we can.
Citizens must have a say in how their police departments are run to ensure it represents and protects, not harms, the community. And those who are charged with looking out for the rest of us must be held to very high expectations while receiving high support. Ben will work to incentivize police departments spending more of their budgets on mental health mitigation and nonviolent prevention. He will also fight to ensure footage collected from body cameras is released to the public as soon as possible and address the law to make sure citizen-led accountability councils can have real oversight.
Our society continues to struggle with ensuring basic human rights and equal protection under the law is extended to each and every one of us. This includes Black and Brown residents and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Friends, neighbors and family members have been targeted time and again through violence and discrimination at the work place and in every day life. Ben will stand against efforts to reverse recent progress and subject people to different standards because of who they are. He will also fight along side others to ensure no one feels the sting of bias from government agents, be they police, county officials or otherwise.
Open and equitable access to the ballot box for every citizen, including those who have served their time, is essential to having government with true legitimacy to govern. There are far too many attempts to fix the game before it even starts and Ben will work hard to ensure strict penalties are in place for public officials and others who attempt to limit access to the right to vote. He will also work to make it easier for local governments to use innovative ideas like ranked choice voting to save money and increase voter equity at the polls.
INVEST IN OUR FUTURE
Our schools, parks, roads, and libraries are some of the most valuable assets our community has. When businesses look to expand or move into a new city, these are the top line items along with crime rate and cost of living. But our state (and oftentimes local) budgets don't reflect that. Ben will advocate to put at least as much effort into these important, community defining assets, as we do tax incentives.
Our public schools are falling apart at the seams and must be invested in and in a major and immediate way. Not only in our teachers, who deserve a raise and benefits, but in our students, administrators, and the physical buildings. We cannot be giving public dollars away to develop private property. Without a robust public school system which is equipped to empower children and their families, we will continue to suffer as a state. Ben will make ensuring every child receives the high quality education they are guaranteed in the Florida Constitution a top priority issue. We must find consensus and end this crisis.
PROTECT OUR ASSETS
Florida is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, endless rivers and creeks, and coastline views that leave anyone in awe. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates access to our environment accounts for upwards of $42bil a year worth of economic activity across the state. Floridians understand how important this resource is and why it's important to protect it for future generations. Ben will focus on investing in our environment and blocking attempts to start or expand on or offshore drilling.
Jacksonville is facing a bill reaching into the billions from projected sea level rise - potentially the most expensive of any city on the East coast of the US. Not to mention the projections for the state. Yet many elected officials don't seem to understand the urgency of the situation as flooding becomes a regular reality for many in the district. Ben will fight for the resources Jacksonville needs to protect our future.
State legislators should be helpful when the cities they represent are going through big conversations with big consequences. Unfortunately, it's become a trend among some to insert themselves into debates they should play little to no part in, let alone attempt to undermine. Jacksonville deserves state legislators who want collaborate. Ben will work constructively with local elected bodies and voters to solve issues and come to productive conclusions.
The state legislature has a history of meddling in local affairs, especially when it comes to municipal and school district revenue potential, against the protests of local governing bodies and residents. The consequences have been far reaching for our communities from city services and affordable housing to school maintenance. This must end and Ben will actively block efforts to continue the practice.
Development in some parts of town is booming including here in the 16th district. New communities are popping up at increasing rates in the district potentially leading to major consequences for our access to fresh water, in addition to feeding in to existing congestion and infrastructure struggles. Ben will work hard to elevate development with standards respecting the environment and the community.
Florida can be a national leader in green building, water conservation, and solar panel manufacturing and use but we are far behind. With some concerted effort, we can realize the potential and create tens of thousands of stable, well-paying long term jobs. Ben will advocate for incentives to boost the exciting cost saving and job creating technologies this state needs to get and stay ahead.