As a working-class resident of Port Richey, Dan knows what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck. He has been at the same company for 15 years and was only recently able to live on his own financially, and that was only because he made himself indispensable and was able to ask for raises. While hard work is necessary, people should not have to struggle like this to live. Dan supports the idea of a $30,000 minimum annual salary. Less than $30,000 a year is not living, it’s surviving. Dan will fight for a livable wage because he believes that housing, food, and basic necessities are a human right.
The other part of the economic plans that Tallahassee legislators have put forward is the tax breaks for large corporations. Dan is vehemently against these. Large corporations, such as Disney, Universal, and power companies, should not be receiving tax breaks while the individuals in our communities struggle to make ends meet.
Dan is incredibly passionate about the public school system here in Pasco. He is a strong supporter of public education and believes wholeheartedly in spending our funding on the public school system.
According to the annual US News Public High School Rankings, Pasco County doesn’t have a single public high school in the Top 50 in Florida. District 36 doesn’t have a school above #300 (Anclote-#348, Hudson-#316, Fivay-#383, Ridgewood-#455).
He strongly disagrees with the recent legislative decision to fund vouchers while diverting funding from public education. The funding going to these vouchers should be going to programs that improve these schools or programs that assist low income families.
He also believes that teachers have not been given the support they deserve in wage increases. The money allocated for public schools in the coming years must be adjusted to allow long-overdue salary raises for teachers. Because it’s illegal for teachers to strike for better wages and rights in Florida, we need to ensure that their needs and wishes, and those of our students, are being represented in Tallahassee when it comes to legislation related to education.
Dan grew up swimming in the waters off Hudson Beach every weekend. Now, due to pollution and bacteria, that is impossible. Over the past few years, Florida has seen devastating Red Tide blooms. While the algae bloom is not a direct cause of human pollution, once the bloom has started, it tends to feed off of runoff, causing it to expand and remain on our shores. Because this particular algae is always in our waters (at a low rate), we need to be vigilant about our run off, especially from property developments and sugar farms that prevent the natural filtering of overflow through the Everglades. These businesses must be held accountable in order to protect the ecosystems off of our shores. Dan supports strict regulations on these corporations to protect our natural environment.
In addition, Dan believes that we have no excuse to be so behind in solar energy. As the Sunshine State ,we should be leading the charge (no pun intended) in solar power. As of last year, we are fourth in the nation (behind California, Texas, and North Carolina). In order for this to improve we need to increase the incentives for solar. Since Dan will not be taking money from big corporations, it is guaranteed that he will not be bought by big energy companies like NextEra Energy and FPL.
Climate change is priority number one. Articles in papers across the state have proposed that we have lost a decade’s worth of climate change action because the legislature in Tallahassee refuses to address the reality that Florida is ground zero for climate change. Florida is a peninsula and with the sea levels rising, we are going to lose housing on the coasts. We are going to have structural issues with our beach towns, including District 36. Our environment is one of our biggest economic drivers. If we lose our beach towns, we lose so much of our tourism. Businesses will close and we will lose a large portion of our economic system because we didn’t act when we needed to.
Health care is an issue that Dan holds close to his heart.
When Dan was a teenager, his aunt and uncle and their young daughter moved to Pasco to be closer to the family. Dan’s aunt was struggling with addiction, and while his family provided all the support they could, ultimately, they lost his aunt to an overdose when he was 14. Her death shook his family to the core. Losing a daughter, a younger sister, a mother, a person to something so preventable is a pain that is unfortunately not uncommon. Drug overdoses increased within the last few years and mostly from increased access to opioids. Dan believes that the resources that exist are inadequate and will fight for more accessible treatment centers and plans as well as family support. He also believes that the criminal justice system doesn’t help addicts get the help they need to become themselves again and instead locks them away and contributes to the vicious cycle.
Mental health care is also a cause that Dan feels needs more adequate support. After almost losing his best friend to suicide, Dan saw what the mental health care system looked like from the inside. It is often unaffordable and inaccessible. Often, proper psychiatric care is not immediately available and people who don’t have the time to wait can’t get an appointment for weeks. When in treatment facilities, families can pay up to $40,000 (on top of insurance and aid from the facility) to keep their loved one stable and alive. De-stigmatizing mental health is a good first step, but in order to protect our communities, friends, and families, we need to be able to do so much more. Telling people that taking care of their mental health without providing adequate mental health services is empty and asinine.
While creating a better system for mental health care is important, it is also crucial that we create funding for research into mental health. Brain diseases such as bipolar, schizophrenia, autism, depression, and anxiety need as much research and medical focus for cures and treatments as cancer and heart disease.
Dan also understands the pain of not having health insurance. About 7 or 8 years ago, his mother, Holly, was having severe, undiagnosed health problems. When they took her to the doctor, they were told she needed to have a biopsy on her uterus in order to determine what was causing her such immense pain. Because she was uninsured, she couldn’t afford both the necessary biopsy and the anesthetic. She had no choice but to continue the procedure without the anesthetic. She was in so much pain that the nurse told her that the best thing she could do would be to pass out because losing consciousness would be better than enduring the pain of the biopsy. The results of the biopsy showed that she needed a hysterectomy as soon as possible and that without insurance it would cost close to $350,000 out of pocket. They also told her that they could only perform the necessary surgery if she placed a down payment of $85,000. Life-saving medical procedures should not bankrupt families. No one should have to worry about how they are going to pay to be alive. Dan believes that this is not an uncommon issue in an area like Pasco County. We need someone in Tallahassee to fight for coverage for the people of not only West Pasco, but all the counties like Pasco in Florida, by expanding Medicaid.