August 28 is Election Day for the 2018 primary elections. The Alachua County Democratic Party hosted a public forum for Democratic cabinet member candidates Wednesday to discuss their campaigns.
The Q&A forum was at 6 p.m. in the Thelma A. Boltin Center at 516 NE Second Ave.
The five candidates answered questions until 8 p.m. from an audience of about 100 people as well as prepared questions from the committee. The candidates were allowed one minute long opening and closing statements.
R. David Walker, a candidate for the Commissioner of Agriculture, emphasized a science-based approach to his campaign due to his environmental biology background working with the U.S. National Park Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Walker’s campaign supports natural solutions for Florida climate change and citrus greening disease, more background checks for concealed weapons licenses, funds to improve public education and restoring felon voting rights.
“I cannot promise a cure, but what I can promise you is I will use science-based policies to make sure that we’ll be a step in the right direction,” Walker said. “As Commissioner of Agriculture, I will make sure there is science-based evidence to protect Florida all around our state.”
Commissioner of Agriculture candidate Nikki Fried discussed her support of medical marijuana, innovative agriculture for future generations, protecting Florida beaches for communities and the tourism industry, income inequality solutions and recruiting young people to vote.
“Most importantly, I reach out to you all because we cannot do this without you, the voters here in Alachua county,” Fried said. “You are one of our strongest Democratic counties in the entire state. And with your help, we will turn Florida blue come November.”
Jeffrey Porter, the third candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture, did not attend.
Attorney General candidate and Florida Representative Sean Shaw said the role of Attorney General is to be a lawyer for the people. Shaw said, if elected, he plans to sue the Immigration and Customs Enforcement administration, continue the lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and protect the Affordable Care Act.
“I am running for Attorney General to go after the legislature in large part,” Shaw said. “I’m going to use the word that the Republicans are trying to brand me with, and it’s called ‘activist.’ And guess what? I am going to be an activist Attorney General.”
Attorney General candidate Ryan Torrens said he is running a pro-consumer platform that will not take any corporate money. Torrens discussed his personal experience with alcoholism to explain his support of decriminalizing addiction in the country.
“I am the only candidate in this race on either side of the aisle not taking one penny in big corporate money,” Torrens said. “And that’s the kind of Attorney General Florida needs.”
Two candidates for governor, Chris King and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, both sent video messages about their campaigns instead of attending.
Candidate Jeff Greene said as governor, he would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, raise teacher wages, create a mandatory two-year pre-kindergarten program and combat the Trump administration.
“I look forward to fighting with (Trump) on behalf of the people of Florida a lot,” Greene said. “Believe me. We’re going to have to.”
Chris King’s campaign addresses gun safety reform, affordable housing, local jobs and businesses, college and trade schools and gender and LGBTQ equality.
Andrew Gillum said his progressive platform is demanding affordable healthcare, an assault weapons ban, a $15 minimum wage and a $50,000 starting teacher salary.
“I’m running for governor for anyone who has ever been told that they don’t belong,” Gillum said. “For anyone who has ever been told that they don’t deserve a chance.”