Three Democrats are in the running for a state House seat. (File photo)
Three Democrats facing off in the Aug. 28 primary in the state House District 30 race come from a variety of backgrounds — a retired cyber-security engineer, a Maitland City Council member and the owner of a nonprofit organization that provides health services to low-income residents.
The platforms, however, of candidates Clark Anderson, Joy Goff-Marcil and Brendan Ramirez are similar: The state should provide more oversight of charter and nonprofit schools that receive public funding, lure high-wage jobs to Central Florida and expand Medicaid.
The winner of the Democratic primary will take on Republican Bob Cortes in the Nov. 6 general election. Cortes, of Altamonte Springs, was first elected to the House in 2014 and is seeking his third term.
House District 30 straddles the Seminole and Orange county line and includes Altamonte Springs, Maitland, Casselberry, Fern Park, Eatonville and Goldenrod.
Of the 105,541 registered voters in the district in 2016, 37 percent were Democrats, about 35 percent Republicans and 28 percent are registered with no party affiliation or with minor parties.
Who they are
Clark Anderson, 65, retired this year as a cyber-security engineer. He worked for General Dynamics and was embedded with a U.S. military unit in northern Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012.Joy Goff-Marcil, 50, was first elected to the Maitland City Council in 2013 and will step down in November. She is an attorney who specializes in wills and probate law.Brendan Ramirez, 42, owns Pan American Behavioral Health Services in Orlando, an outpatient mental health clinic. He also was a senior Medicaid coordinator at Adventist Care Centers.
Where they stand
Clark Anderson said “we could do a much better job” in attracting high-technology companies that offer higher-than-average wages into the region. For too long, the state and the region have focused on development and tourism, he said.
“I fundamentally believe that our area can grow with technology companies; we have a wonderful environment here,” he said. “But we’ve been driving along in a 1980s economic model.”
Anderson said a big reason is the state’s education system. He wants to focus on creating a “stronger, more adaptable education system” that trains students not just for college but also for technical jobs. He also wants more oversight of charter and private schools that receive state funding.
“We’ve done this experiment with charter schools, and it hasn’t made much of a difference,” he said.
Anderson said the region should focus on mass transit as part of any new developments. He also opposes drilling for oil or gas off Florida’s coast in state waters.
Joy Goff-Marcil — whose three children attended Orange County public schools — agrees that the state is not adequately funding public schools by directing tax money to charter schools or to private schools in the form of vouchers with little oversight.
“They are punishing public schools,” she said. “They should put the money to [public] schools that are not performing well.”
Calling herself a strong supporter of the environment, Goff-Marcil said as a Maitland council member she voted for an ordinance that strengthened protections for wetlands and waterways from development. She also opposed a proposed state law that would have overturned local ordinances that protect tree canopies.
“We can grow but still take of our environment,” she said.
Goff-Marcil also said she is a big believer in expanding Medicaid and helping small businesses.
Brandon Ramirez said the state providing affordable and accessible health care is at the top of his campaign.
“Medicaid expansion is a very necessary first step for the state to take,” he said. “When it comes to health care, accessibility and affordability are the two big issues. A lot of people with private insurance have really high deductibles or co-payments — which they can’t afford — so it’s almost like not having any insurance at all.”
Florida, Ramirez said, lags far behind other states in the amount of money directed toward mental health.
If elected, he said he will work to stop the Legislature from diverting tens of millions of dollars every year from a state trust fund meant to aid affordable-housing developments to other “pet projects.”
“This is money that could go a long way for affordable housing,” he said.
Ramirez said some charter and private schools do provide excellent education. However, all the schools should have the same accountability, he said.
How they differ
Anderson said he had a 35-year career in technology in the business and manufacturing sectors.
“I’ve worked with military, federal and state leaders on large-scale projects and getting ideas understood,” he said.
Goff-Marcil said as a Maitland council member, she has seen how decisions at the state level affect local communities.
“I’ve lived here all my life,” she said. “I know this district. I love this district and I feel very connected.”
Ramirez said throughout his career he has worked to help low-income residents receive health care.
“I have spent at least the last 10 years, every day, helping the most vulnerable,” he said. “I think my experience in the public and private sector, and my advocacy, gives me the knowledge to go to Tallahassee.”