In an effort to help you make informed decisions during the General Election, ABC Action News has reached out to dozens of candidates running for office. The following statements have been submitted to ABC Action News by the candidate. Every candidate was given the same set of questions. These are their responses in his/her own words.
Name: Allen Ellison
Office: US House of Representatives
I graduated from Florida Southern College in 2007 with my Degree in Political Science with a concentration in Business Administrations. I am the 2018 and 2020 Democratic Nominee. I am the former Chairman of the Center for Economic & Policy Development, Inc., where I worked on global economic development initiatives and policy. I am currently a business owner in Highlands County.
Why should voters vote for you?
The voters of Florida should vote for me because I am the best chance at getting them what they need to live the best quality of life possible. Voters should vote for me because I will listen to their concerns and take direct actions to address those concerns. Voters should vote for me because I understand that my obligation is not to the President of the United States, it’s to the people. Voters should vote for me because I actually care about their well-being. Voters should vote for me because my entire family lives in the district, so the issues that affect the voters affects my family and friends and so, I will do whatever is necessary to protect them and bring the resources home. Voters should vote for me because I will not work against their interest unlike the my opponent, the current Representative who has voted “No” on the Hurricane Michael Tax Relief Act of which the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a $19.1 billion for disaster supplement that brought aid to Floridians and other communities rocked by hurricane catastrophes. It is good to know that your Representative has your back when it matters. It is bad feeling knowing that your Representative will place party or ideology over the better interest of the people.
If elected, what are your top priorities?
Living in a pandemic that has claimed 210,000+ lives and disrupted countless others, my top priorities will be strengthening healthcare, the economy, job creation, eradicating COVID-19, comprehensive immigration form, criminal justice reform, veterans care, securing social security, protecting the environment and Americans living with disabilities.
What are three key messages of your campaign?
In this race to become Florida’s newest voice in Washington, I would like my constituents to know that I am the strongest candidate on protecting the environment, the only candidate that has a platform to improve the quality of life for all American citizens and the only candidate that cares about increasing benefits for our seniors and our brothers and sisters living with disabilities.
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
I am passionate about all areas of public policy as it relates to the issues that affect the people of my district and the United States. I have a vision for the future of our district and America. My vision is centered around improving the quality of life for all citizens. This means protecting our environment, securing social security, healthcare, the rights of women, veterans care, increasing disability benefits, making improvements to infrastructure and our educational system. It means creating good paying jobs, sustainable agricultural development and green solutions for a stronger, cleaner and safer environment for everyone to enjoy. It means bringing families back together and healing the social divide and conquering this pandemic.
As it relates to the role you are seeking, how has that governmental body handled the Covid-19 pandemic? What would you do differently/the same in handling both the public health risk and the economic recovery?
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, is a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the U.S. Congress in response to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the United States. The spending primarily includes $300 billion in one-time cash payments to individual Americans, $260 billion in increased unemployment benefits, the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program that provides forgivable loans to small businesses with an initial $350 billion in funding (later increased to $669 billion by subsequent legislation), $500 billion in aid for large corporations, and $339.8 billion to state and local governments. This was a great first step to helping mitigate some unforeseen circumstance of the pandemic.
As Covid-19 began to get worse, unemployment claims began to skyrocket and the economy crashing, House Democrats drafted new legislation known as the Cares Act #HR6201, which includes about $1.13 trillion of emergency supplemental appropriations to federal agencies, as well as economic assistance to governments at the state, local, tribal, and territorial levels. There would be about $485 billion in safety net spending, including the expansion of unemployment benefits, increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, increased funding utilities payments and job training for low-income individuals, and a 25% increase in aid to disabled veterans.
There would be about $435 billion for additional rebates, which would include an additional $1200 stimulus check per individual. There would be about $382 billion for health care, which would include reimbursing health care providers for lost revenue, covering the COBRA premium costs for employees laid off between March 2020 and January 2021, increasing funding for testing and contact tracing, eliminating cost-sharing for coronavirus treatment, and increasing funding for health agencies and centers. Employers would also need to implement infectious disease control panels.
There would be about $290 billion to support small businesses and employee retention, with modifications to the Paycheck Protection Program. This would expand employee retention credit, provide credits for employer expenses, extend and expand paid leave (such as paid sick days, family and medical leave), and provide a 90% income credit for self-employed individuals. There would be about $290 billion to reduce income taxes and $191 billion for student loan relief and funding for higher education. There would be about $202 billion for housing-related costs and expenses, including the establishment of an emergency rental assistance fund and a homeowner's assistance fund.
Some eviction and foreclosure moratoriums would be expanded as well, being extended for up to another year and expanding the moratorium to cover all renters and homeowners rather than specific cases as previously done in the CARES Act. There would be about $190 billion for hazard pay for essential workers. In addition, there would be $32 billion for communication systems (such as the U.S. Postal Service), $48 billion for pensions and retirement relief, $31 billion for agricultural spending, and $254 billion for a limited business loss deductions.
My opponent Greg Steube, the current Representative, voted “No” for both the Cares Act and the Heroes Act. I would have voted for them both and in addition to that I would have used my public office to promote the importance of wearing masks and eye protection to reduce health risks.
In the role you are seeking, what will you do to address issues of racism and inequality?
There is and has always been an extremely low regard for the lives of people of color in America. This disdain, hatred, disregard, disrespect and lack of empathy towards people of color is the primary reason why race relations in America have been strained for so long. One can literally see the erosion of the fabric of our society in every aspect of life whether it’s in our relations with one another or thought the policy that we enact. I will hold community forums such as town halls to discuss the issues of race relations and work with law enforcement agencies to create better relationships with communities of color, I will work to fix our broken immigration system as many aspects of the policies that exist are predicated upon race, I will work to improve race relations in American through comprehensive education reform to make sure that everyone is depicted in history books in the proper light and celebrated for their contribution to America and the world. I believe that this will teach people to have a better appreciation for one another. I will advocate for and support the Justice in Policing Act. I will work toward criminal justice reform to reduce the minimum and maximum sentencing guidelines, and make them more proportional to the crimes committed by a 25% cut as a starting point for the 5 major crimes including aggravated assault, drug trafficking, non-violent weapons offenses, robbery and serious burglary) that make up the bulk of the nation’s current prison population. I will encourage more people color to go into law enforcement, social work, law, politics and medicine to help change the narrative and level the playing field and I will encourage leaders to begin to speak with love and unity instead of divisive language that denigrates our society.
What motivates you to run for public office?
What motivates me about running for public office is the fact that in our society, there are haves and there are have nots. Those that have not make of the majority of our country men and women and they are in desperate need a representative who will fight for the issues that matter to them. It bothers me that undocumented immigrants hiding in the shadows have no voice in within the leadership of our district. Women who are fighting for their rights have no representation from the representative elected to represent their interest. The veterans who are committing suicide at the rate of 22 per day or those that are contemplating it have no representation from the representative elected to represent their interest. Black Americans who feel under-appreciated, over-looked, disregarded and made to feel that their live do not matter have no representation from the representative elected to represent their interest. Struggling families laid off from work due to covid-19 and job loss have no representation from the representative elected to represent their interest. Of the 61 million disabled Americans, there are over 252,000 Americans living with disabilities in our district and they have no representation from the representative elected to represent their interest. The babies ripped from their mothers and living in cages like animals have no voice or representation within the leadership of our district. The 170,000+ residents living in our district without access to healthcare have no voice in our Congress. So, when I think about the haves and the have nots in my district, I know that it’s the have nots that need and deserve a champion who will fight to make sure that they too can have an effective representative who will work to give them a better quality of life. These things are what motivates me to run for public office.