It’s been a great election cycle for interviews and if you’re running for office, I want to talk to you!
Recently, I had the chance to ask Sean Ashby some questions about his campaign for State House in District 50. Ashby was one of the candidates that participated in the Florida’s people, Florida’s promise forum earlier this week. Here’s what he had to say
FT: How is the campaign going? What is the number one concern you’re hearing from the voters?
Ashby: The campaign is going great, largely due to to the amount of people who are tired of the current special interest driven lawmaking in Tallahassee. People continue to tell me that they are looking for representatives who are there to look out for the middle class, and not just create polices which benefit the few. So many of the concerns which I hear, focus around jobs and the economy. Voters are looking for leaders who place job creation near the top of their priorities, and vote out incumbents who have voted for job and small business killing policies such as my opponent.
FT: You’re running for State House. What did you think about the last session? What did you like? Was there a law passed or initiative that bothered you?
Ashby: The last two sessions (2011-2012) were extremely troublesome, and policies passed set the state back 20 years. Recently, Florida was ranked the #1 most corrupt state in the US. This was not an opinion poll, but a rank determined by shear numbers. This is a troubling trend, and one which is based on the extreme amounts of money flowing from special interest groups. To prove my point let’s look at two examples. The first is the push to privatize prisons. Millions of dollars have been given to candidates to vote to privatize the prisons, under the auspices that it will save taxpayers money. We only need to look to Arizona, which conducted a study a few years after prisons were privatized, and determined that it actually cost taxpayers more to privatize the prisons, and reduce the public’s safety at the same time. Fortunately the bill was voted down, but the republic leadership hid it in the budget which was passed, and now is being fought in the courts with taxpayers paying the legal bills. The second example, is Associated Industries, an extremely powerful business PAC in Florida. They are passing out millions to candidates to ensure votes in the next session. The president of AIF leading this charge is former Congressman Tom Feeney, three times voted as “one of the most corrupt politicians in Washington”. If Tom was corrupt in Washington with the nation watching, one could only wonder what deals he is making in back rooms with candidates who are accepting his money.
FT: The main reason I wanted this interview was your answer on the state of FCAT testing and education in general from “the Florida’s people, Florida’s promise forum”. You’ve got knowledge on the topic. Can you try to rebuild that answer?
Ashby: Sure, as I mentioned at the forum, standardized testing is a mainstay in education. However the FCAT takes testing to a new level, and has been a huge detriment to our education system. Standardized testing is to determine strengths and weaknesses of a student’s growth, and allow the student’s teacher and parents to craft a plan to raise the students proficiency. However the legislature over the past few years have placed a much higher emphasis on the results. The FCAT is now used many times as the sole tool to determine the effectiveness of teachers, the school, and the district. As such, the teachers, schools, and districts have been forced to emphasize the importance of it, forcing them to eliminate programs that students need to become qualified employees in the workforce. Another serious problem with the FCAT, is the changing criteria which is set after the test is taken to determine the grading scale. Is it fair to our students to require them to take a test, and tell them afterwards how they will be scored? This has led to disastrous results this past school year and must be changed. Florida’s education system needs to return to the idea that we are producing young adults to enter the real world, and at this time we are not. We must focus more on giving students opportunities to see what awaits them outside of the school house gates. Not every student can or will go to college, but we are treating them as such. Public education should be about giving kids opportunities to learn and be better adults, but sadly the current legislature feels differently, and this must change.
FT: Simple question. Why should the voters choose you and not you’re opponent?
Ashby: This election, I hope people look beyond the “D’ or “R” next to somebody’s name and vote for the candidate who is best for the district and for the state. I have dedicated my life to public service, to ensure that all people are able to accomplish their dreams. I am middle class, my opponent is anything but. I am for creating jobs, my opponent killed thousands of jobs in Florida by voting to reduce Florida’s GDP by $1.2 billion in the last 12 months, and counting. I refuse to bow to special interests, my opponent has taken thousands from these groups, including the one run by “One of the most corrupt politicians in Washington” three times running. How many favors does he have to pay off now? I am for assisting small businesses, my opponent voted for an illegal monopoly while on the Canaveral Port Authority preventing the creating and growth of small businesses ending with a $700,000 fine. And finally, I live in the district and have for many years, my opponent does not.
FT: I always like to end interviews with an opportunity to tell the voters something they may not know about you or your campaign. What might that be?
Ashby: As a native Floridian, I have always had a passion for exploring Florida’s opportunities. Whether it’s fishing out of Port Canaveral, scuba diving all up and down the Atlantic, or playing golf virtually in every corner of the state, I am ready to protect it lands and it’s citizens in Tallahassee.
Ashby faces opposition from Tom Goodson.