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: Charlie Crist
Office: U.S. House District 13
Former state senator, state education commissioner, state attorney general and governor of Florida. Elected to the U.S. House in 2016.
Why should voters vote for you?
I grew up in St. Petersburg and attended public schools here. This has always been my home. I know the community, I share the values of our friends and neighbors, and I pledge to continue to represent their best interests in the U.S. House – the People’s House.
If elected, what are your top priorities?
1. Ensuring our nation, our state and our region do our best to protect the physical and economic health of our residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
2. Providing top-notch constituent service -- helping veterans, seniors and anyone dealing with the federal bureaucracy.
3. Protecting our environment from offshore drilling and the impacts of climate change.
4. Restoring civility to Washington.
What are three key messages of your campaign?
1. I will continue to fight for you.
2. I will continue to fight to preserve and protect Social Security and Medicare benefits our seniors have earned.
3. I will continue to fight for veterans to ensure they receive the benefits, access to health care and other services they deserve for serving our country.
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
1. I am passionate about helping our veterans, and my bipartisan legislation to expand veterans treatment courts has been signed into law.
2. I am passionate about helping our seniors, and the first piece of legislation I introduced in Congress was to lift the income cap on payroll taxes to make the program solvent or another 30 years or more. The legislation also would end the double taxation of benefits so that seniors who already paid into the system don’t get taxed again when they get their Social Security checks.
3. I am passionate about protecting Florida’s beaches and preserving its environment, and I support a permanent ban on drilling off our coasts.
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?
Our communities, our businesses and our residents are still hurting from the economic fallout triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The stalled negotiations in Washington over another badly needed relief package is only prolonging the pain. I voted for the Heroes Act the House passed in May, which would provide nearly $1 trillion to state and local governments to help cover the costs of fighting this deadly virus. The legislation also would provide a second round of desperately needed direct payments of up to $1,200 per family member. It also would have extended the $600 federal unemployment benefits. That would be a more robust plan than the administration’s modest effort that will not do enough in Florida, where unemployment benefits rank among the nation’s lowest. The House legislation also would encourage employers to keep workers on the payroll, better preserve health coverage for those who lose their jobs and provide housing assistance.
The pandemic’s threat to our health has not been contained, and neither has its economic impact. Florida’s residents and businesses should not continue to suffer the economic consequences of the partisan bickering in Washington, and Congress must agree on another vigorous relief package.
In the role you are seeking, what will you do to address issues of racism and inequality?
I voted for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that was passed by the House and provides for a number of reforms. Those include lowering the criminal intent standard to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution and creating a national registry on complaints of police misconduct. I am a strong supporter of expanding funding for community redevelopment, home loans and loans for minority-owned local businesses.
I also want to ensure every voice is heard and every vote counts. I voted for legislation passed by the House that is named after the late Rep. John Lewis and would restore voting rights protections aimed at protecting the rights of Black voters.
What motivates you to run for public office?
I want to ensure the voices of Floridians, particularly my friends and neighbors in the 13 th congressional district, are heard in Washington and that their best interests are represented.