PUNTA GORDA, Fla. -- 4 In Your Corner interviewed both Florida Gubernatorial candidates for about 5 minutes.
Topics included the environment, and political unification. The following are answers given by Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
Q: What policies do you hope to enact to solve the water quality crisis in SWFL?
A: Well, I've visited this area a number of times. I've seen for myself some of the algae blooms that you all have to deal with around here. It's pretty unfortunate. And worse than that, for the past 8 years, we've neglected our environmental protection. Under our administration, one, we're going to convene the best scientists, the best marine scientists, the best biologists to help inform, what we can do in the short term, medium term, and long term to help get a handle on the kind of environmental degradation we are dealing with. I believe, as most people probably know, this problem won't be solved overnight. It's going to require significant resourcing from the state. We will push for that resourcing. It will require us to appoint a new water management districts who will actually believe in science and will, in my opinion, help keep our environment safe and protected. And then it's going to require us to have the backbone that is necessary to stand up against big agriculture and big polluters to ensure that they don't get to run roughshod over our state and our water quality again. It's time that we do something. I believe under a Gillum King administration, we're going to see some real progress on this issue.
Q: Is there a specific policy to begin?
A: Right now we are requiring farmers and big agriculture to subscribe to what is known as best practices as a way to deal with their farming practices. That's insufficient. There are no claws to that system. There are no mandates to that. It basically says 'you tell me what you want to do to deal with pollution and storm water runoff, and we'll allow you to do it.' That's insufficient. We have got to bring an end to best practice as a sufficient means to deal with pollution, and put back into control the regulators who help to keep our environment clean, safe and protected.
Q: How much funding should we dedicate to water quality?
A: I think we need to know how bad the problem is. Right now I don't think we've had truth and transparency coming from our regulators. Exactly how bad is this issue we are dealing with? We know that we've got major storm water runoff, we know we've got major nitrates that are seeping into Lake Okeechobee that when we do these releases it finds its way into the estuaries which then create the blue-green algae effect that we have all become too familiar with. We don't have a full handle, which is the first step we have to take. We have to get a full environmental environmental evaluation on what are we dealing with, and then rely on those scientists to offer up what are going to be the immediate, short term and long-term solutions to help us clean this issue up. Our environment is worth it. Our environment is absolutely worth us taking strong steps to protect our water quality, our air quality, our beaches and our oceans. It's a mandate. It's mandatory and under our administration we're going to get it done.
Q: What is your biggest priority in Florida?
A: It's hard to rank just one. We had 20 year under republican control, and at least the last 8, not strong stewardship around our environment. Environment is a high priority for us. As I talked tonight, I think there are real opportunities. There is an economy in dealing with our environmental challenges. Education is also high up. As is healthcare. There are a number of leading issues we have to address. That's the burden I'm going to have coming in as the first democratic governor in 20 years and having to reform an entire state that's been our of our control for 2 decades.
Q: How do you unite people/how would you work with your democratic colleagues?
A: I've tried to exhibit it in my own campaigning. We've gone to republican areas, democratic areas, split democrat/republican areas of our state and campaigned in those area. We've talked to voters. We've listened to their concerns. It is my hope, and it'll be my job as the governor of the state of Florida to do what is in the best interest for the people of our state. That means that we're going to have to sit down in the instance there is a Speaker Oliva on the republican side, have conversations, and figure out what we can do to solve problems. People don't send us there to bicker. They don't send us there to fight. They send us there to get things done on their behalf. And when we win this race, they can expect that I'm going to be willing to sit down, to listen, to negotiate, and come to cooperating conclusions that benefit the people of our great state.