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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

November candidates talk conservation, future plans at forum

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Jason Haeseler remembers waiting in the hospital, hoping his daughter would be all right after surgery to fix her congenital heart defect.

He and his wife could afford to help their child, but there were families in the waiting room alongside him who couldn’t.

Less than a decade later, Haeseler stood in front of a room of about 70 people and said his No. 1 priority if elected to the Florida House of Representatives is to expand Medicaid.

The Alachua County League of Women Voters hosted the General Election Candidate forum Sunday at LifeSouth Community Blood Center on Newberry Road. 

County Commission District 2 candidates Libertarian Gregory Caudill, Independent Scott Costello, and Democrat Marihelen Wheeler, started off the forum.

Candidates were asked if they supported the half-cent sales tax, which would raise money for public schools, or the Children’s Trust, a board that oversees funding for children’s programs. While Costello and Wheeler support both,

Caudill said he doesn’t support the Children’s Trust because of the wording. He said there are no clear goals and he doesn’t agree with how the board is set up.

“We’re taking money away from taxpayers and moving it to people who don’t answer to taxpayers,” he said.

For the House of Representatives portion, only Democrat Jason Haeseler attended. His opponent, incumbent Republican Chuck Clemons, declined the invitation to participate, a moderator for the forum said.

Aside from expanding Medicaid, Haeseler spoke to attendees about the importance of protecting the environment and public schools.

“Public education is the cornerstone of democracy,” he said.

Although he believes scholarships to private schools had good intentions, Haeseler said he doesn’t support the scholarships that take money away from public schools.

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Following Haeseler, Independent Charles Goston spoke as a candidate for the Florida Senate District 8. His opponents had prior obligations and couldn’t attend, a moderator said.

Along with supporting efforts to protect Florida’s natural resources, Goston also supports regulating automatic weapons, he said. 

Goston also plans to give state workers a raise, fight against Stand Your Ground laws and expand Medicaid. A couple of years ago, Goston lost his daughter to cancer. His family could afford treatment but not everyone can, he said. 

“People shouldn’t die from lack of coverage,” Goston said. “We’re not all going to die from natural causes, but we should strive for that.”

Contact Jessica Curbelo at and follow her on Twitter at @jesscurbelo

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