Hello Tampa friends,
With all the controversy surrounding the slew of endorsements for State Representative Susan Valdes’ re-election campaign, I will share my perspective on this issue. I first met Susan when I entered the world of local politics as a young nineteen year old forming a countywide campaign for School Board. She took the time to meet with me and discuss my ambitions—I was thankful for the experience as she was among the first locally elected officials I had ever met in person. I appreciated her vote to oust the former Superintendent Elia, and to help ensure student nutrition saw its due with a kitchen to help train cafeteria staff.
I like Susan; though I do not agree with her support and stance on privatization of education. To divert funds from public to private schools is unacceptable. I support school choice, especially in the case where parents need more support for their children with disabilities, or religious preference. Let them choose; do not hurt public education in the process!
I hope that Susan evolves on these issues and presents a comprehensive case to remain in the Florida State House of Representatives. That being said, I know that public school supporter Laurie Rodriguez is going to present a primary challenge, and I believe that will be a net positive for the election. I say stick to the issues, and I would like to see a productive conversation regarding what is best for public education and other issues. I am not prepared to endorse anyone for this race, and others—though I can say I support my friends Councilor Orlando Gudes, Commissioner Pat Kemp, and others in their right to make endorsements without supporting slashes to public education. Perhaps those who have endorsed Susan will be willing to pressure her to evolve on the issue of privatization. I hope so!