Tavares, FL August 4, 2014
Florida House District 31 is partly in Lake County, including the cities of Mt. Dora, Eustis & Tavares, plus Apopka in Orange County. Many other Lake County voters will not be able to vote for them, but are providing grass roots or funding support since this position is one of five Lake County Florida House & Senate delegation members. If your current FL House Rep. is Bryan Nelson, then you will be voting for his replacement in this election.
Five candidates are running to replace termed out incumbent Bryan Nelson. Links to videos of all of them and other articles are at the bottom of this document.
Brief summary of my recommendations for District 31 candidates with more reasons further below:
1. Jennifer Sullivan is my top recommendation. She is the most aware of MANY legislative issues including local legislative priorities and Constitutional issues. Most of her funding is from grass roots efforts and not big money like healthcare, attorneys, insurance industries or unions . Her generation is inheriting a MESS and excessive deficits and they NEED an advocate to fix all the problems caused by the older generations (like mine).
2. Second pick is Randy Glisson - He is local in Lake County, and well liked but funded by big money and would probably depend on lobbyists to write his legislation. He fails some questions about local issues like Schools or County legislative priorities, but has been improving lately.
3. Third pick is Terri Seefeldt - Very smart, but lives outside Lake County in Apopka and is mostly focused on Health Insurance. She fails most questions regarding local issues, like School Board or County Florida legislative priorities.
B. Grassell - If you are a conservative, do NOT vote for B. Grassel. She is a Democrat in Republican clothing, although if elected, she will probably the most effective for the Education system. However, the Democrats have so screwed up this country, I cannot recommend anyone they support.
Joseph Stephens is not serious and does not deserve any votes. See reasons below and link to an article about why he should have dropped out of the race.
Longer Overview of District 31 Candidates and Issues
Here is my longeroverview of the candidates and our recommendation, following by links to our vidoes of candidate forums and other articles so you can make your own choice. I have attended NUMEROUS candidate forums and made videos of many of them (see links below) at my FiscalRangersFlorida YouTube Channel. I have been attending local government board meetings for 8 years and write the blog FiscalRangers.com on local government issues. Thus I know the candidates and local issues pretty well.
The candidates, listed left to right in the above photo, are Belita Grassel, Jennifer Sullivan, Joseph Stephens, Randy Glisson and Terri Seefeldt.
Right now, the new District 31 is based in Bryan Nelson's office in Orange County's Apopka. By voting for a Lake County resident, the odds are higher they will make their primary office in Lake County, rather than Apopka which will benefit Lake County. The current outgoing incumbent, Bryan Nelson is from Apopka and RARELY ever visits Lake County - basically he ignores us. About 2/3 of the District is now in Lake County after district lines were redrawn two years ago, so the new primary office should be here in Lake County and not Orange County.
Ability to understand and discuss local legislative priorities (not just Obamacare) is important for the District. I have given copies of the Lake Schools and Lake County legislative priorities to all candidates and only Jennifer Sullivan and Belita Grassel can discuss them with authority.
Funding by organizations outside Lake County indicate industry lobbyist support. Two of the candidates, Randy Glisson & Terri Seefeldt, have much of their funding from outside Lake (and Orange) counties. Thus you have to determine if they have sold future votes to special interests.
Our Overview and Recommendations in order and why
We recommend Jennifer Sullivan (lives in the Mt. Dora area) - Youngest candidate, but highly experienced as a leader in a youth organizations that focused on Florida State legislation issues and many visits to Tallahassee. My main reason for selecting her is her younger generation needs solid representatives in the Florida Legislature and she is quite knowledgeable on how the legislature works, plus is a solid conservative and follows the Constitution. She also is very approachable, which means she will listen to most voter concerns. Jennifer has raised over $50,000 mostly from REAL people and not industries and lobbyists. She has a big "posse" who help walking neighborhoods, indicating an ability to motivate and attract supporters. To my knowledge, Jennifer or her supprters have NOT sent out any hit pieces or ads against other candidates. Jennifer's Facebook page is HERE.
Each of the following candidates have different attributes, so if you do not want to allow the younger generation to have an elected advocate, then find what you are interested in:
Randy Glisson (my second pick - Maybe) - a local with high name recognition due to his business newspaper ads and his father who was in the Florida Legislature many years ago. He lives in Lake County. He is a Chiropractor and mostly has focused on the dangers of Obamacare (which is mostly a Federal issue, and not much State legislators can do about it). He also has focused much time on his Father's legislative record, which is not a real indicator to me of how Randy will work in the Legislature. Randy is very approachable and probably has the most support from locals, and has organized many people to work for him in events and parades, which is a key indicator of support. He is not a strong speaker or debater and has to refer to notes. He most likely will depend more on lobbyists from the attorney and hospital industries to provide laws to implement rather than do his own research on legislative issues. Many of his early speeches only focused on Obamacare, and not state or local issues. Randy has observed the legislative process during the time his father was in the legislature, but may be the least experienced in Tallahassee lobbying (except Stephens). But he is a "people person" who will probably be the most open to listening to local constituents and acting on their issues. Not well versed on local issues like legislative priorities of schools or county governments. Glisson has raised over $100,000, much from large industries like hospitals, health and attorneys. Randy has supporters who have sent out hit mail and TV ads attacking Jennifer. So, you have to wonder why he would accept support from such funders. He has the funding edge. He rarely discusses LOCAL or FLORIDA issues like water, jobs, schools, etc. Randy's Campaign Facebook page is HERE.
Terri Seefeldt (my third pick - Maybe) - Probably the smartest of all the candidates on technical issues, but focused almost entirely on healthcare and Obamacare from the insurance company standpoint. Doesn't network much at meetings. She HAS paid some political dues by appearing at many Lake County events over the last year, so she does know the political groups here. She doesn't seem to have much of a group of campaign workers compared to the other three top candidates. One observer says she is shy, but another perspective could be she is more comfortable dealing with insurance benefit policy makers than routine voter issues because she works as an insurance broker for businesses, not consumers. Not well versed on local issues like legislative priorities of schools or county governments. She has support of the Leesburg political crowd (even though they are not in District 31) behind the old dormant "Right Side of the Lake" blog. One observer says they don't like candidates who take funding from attorneys, thus they picked Terri over another Glisson who does have Attorney funding. Terri has strong experience in legislative actions by many years lobbying for the health insurance industry while working as a business insurance plan broker, so she knows the processes and systems in Tallahassee. She has raised over $35,000 9the last time we looked) and much from outside the county. A new TV ad talked about Obamacare, stopping immigration at the "borders" and another Federal issue . She rarely discusses LOCAL or FLORIDA issues like water, jobs, schools, etc. Terri has supporters who have sent out attack mail against Jennifer. So, you have to wonder why she would accept support from such funders. Terri's Facebook page is HERE.
Belita Grassel - NO (She is supported by the liberal Orlando Sentinel, which is why I say NO to votes for her). She is a Lake County resident. I know Belita from when she was head of the Lake County School teachers union, and she was a VERY effective negotiator representing them. She is really focused. However, she is a RINO (or Republican in Name Only) or "moderate conservative" who doesn't follow several conservative philosophies. She claims that she is a Republican and that running the teachers' union (LCEA) was like running a professional group like nurses (which she also did). Watch the video of a forum debate below to see her answers. However, she is NOT a liberal whacko like some Rinos and also has many local supporters. She has raised some funds, and knows how to run a grass roots campaign. She also has experience lobbying for schools and teachers and nurses in Tallahassee. If she is elected, who would probably be a very strong advocate for fixing School funding and policy problems and some healthcare issues (from being a nurse at one time). Since this is an open election where Democrats can vote for these Republican candidates, I expect them to vote for her) Belita's Facebook page is HERE.
Any of the four above candidates would provide improvements and represent Lake County and Apopka well in their areas of expertise, however, the last candidate is not one I recommend for any votes:
CAVEAT - Joseph Stephens - DON'T WASTE your vote on him. - Lives in Apopka. I wrote an earlier April 23rd column recommending he drop out of the race. Has a very bad organization approach to campaigns. Only raised $1000 the last time I checked and had not spent any of it even though he has circulated petition cards, posted yard signs and had poorly designed collaterals at events. Has had a series of warning notices from the Florida Elections Department due to missing report filing dates, etc. Has no clue about local issues and just seems to talk about issues he read in the paper. NO Tallahassee legislative knowledge or experience. READ my article why he should drop out HERE. Not long ago, the Orlando Sentinel published an article on all the candidates and dug up that he also has filed bankruptcy twice. No one can figure why he is running except to use campaigning as a way to market his name for his business. Stephens is a reason why there should be an elections qualification method to weed out non-serious candidates. Unfortunately, perhaps 5-7% of the voters will be uninformed and vote for him, perhaps because he is one of two males in the race, or that he lives in Apopka. Joseph's Facebook page is HERE. (His last post was May 31).
Other Sources of Information on District 31 Candidates
This is the St. Pete Times poll as shown on Orlando Channel 13's website:
The Orlando Sentinel candidate page with recommendations. Since they are liberal and I am a conservative, I recommend voting for whoever they did NOT pick.