The 2016 Election Florida Ballot

Voting involves some tough decision-making despite (sometimes) a lack of information.  I started out putting together a cheat sheet for myself so that I can better understand some of the state and local aspects of my ballot, but decided to share it here in case anyone else can benefit from it (particularly the Amendments down at the bottom).  If your precinct isn’t in Florida, this might not be very helpful.


President

I’m not offering any help here because we have all been bombarded with so much information about the candidates, that this should be the easiest decision on the ballot at this point.  If you are honestly still conflicted over whether Clinton or Trump would be a better fit for the president of the United States, God help you.

Consider voting for Joe Exotic…

That was not a serious recommendation.


The rest of the ballot

Now for the tough part: all the other stuff on the ballot that is also pretty important but seems to get no attention at all until you’re standing in front of your ballot frustrated and bewildered.  Below are some resources and personal recommendations on who to vote for in Florida and Tampa Bay local elections.


US Senate

Marco Rubio is very handsome, but he notorious for never showing up for work.  He apparently has admitting to not really liking his job as Senator, so I don’t think he should be re-elected.  Sometimes when you really hate your job, you just need a kick in the pants to move on.  Just vote for someone else.

Patrick Murphy has been described as a “super liberal,” but that’s honestly hardly the case.  He’s actually moderate and will probably break from other Democrats when voting on most issues.  Regardless of how you feel about any of that, he’s still likely a better choice than Marco Rubio.


Florida State Senate District 20

Tom Lee – is the only one running, so you should just vote for him unless you would like the position instead.


Judges

I voted YES to retain all judges except for Charles Canady (who even conservative Supreme Court Justice Scalia overturned some of his decisions, calling them unconstitutional).  A NO vote for a judge means that the judge is ejected and Governor Rick Scott appoints a new judge.  So if you vote no, make sure you think that this dude’s gonna find a better guy for the job:

05052015_074127_rickscottt_8col


School Board Member District 7

Cathy James
Qualifications: somebody’s mom.  likes going to PTO meetings

Lynn Gray  (also see LinkedIn)
Qualifications: extensive teaching experience


Soil and Water Conservation Districct Group 2

This is a coveted position for Hillsborough County.  It’s difficult to make a decision here because of so many candidates and so little information.

Some General Information

Christopher Carlos Cano – seems like a concerned citizen with no relevant experience.  I found this terrible video interview and his facebook page  He does seem to want to use the position to hold agencies and corporations accountable for polluting our water supply, and he definitely does care about making a difference.

Erik Challenger Sr – has a facebook page.  It has no information other than encouraging the public to do what they can to conserve water…. the Democratic Party recommended this guy

Kim O’Connor – all I know is that she’s affiliated with the Green Party.  I suppose this is the one position that we can agree a Green Party candidate is appropriate.

David R. Phillips Jr.  – A blog I found notes that David R. Phillips Jr would be the progressive choice but I honestly don’t know where he got that info.

Deborah Tomargo is a real estate broker so…sounds like a serious conflict of interest


Soil Conservation Group 4

Nicholas Tobasco Bissett – his LinkedIn shows no relevant work experience….

Joshua S. Knezinek is a Libertarian and wants to basically take the board down because he thinks it’s a waste of time and money so….not the best candidate for actually conserving water.

Susan Dumke is apparently involved in blueberry farming.  The Democratic Party of Florida recommends Susan Dumke


Tampa City Council District 7

This position is apparently contentious, and the candidates appear to sort of be on equal footing as far as likelihood of getting elected.  Since the position requires a 50% majority, this will probably have a runoff election, so you may have to vote again come December.  They actually all seem pretty qualified; their positions on how to handle city growth vary.  This is a nonpartisan position, but candidates have gotten support from parties.  The Tampa Bay Times has a good write-up on the candidates and recommends

General information – http://saintpetersblog.com/tampa-city-council-district-7-candidates-disagree-stormwater-tax/

* = candidate has been endorsed by a current council member

 

Jim Davidson – emergency room physician, supported by the GOP,

*Orlando Gudes – former Tampa cop, seems to really care about improving Tampa and increasing police presence (particularly in New Tampa for some reason)

Avis Simone Harrison – ex-teacher, has a strong agenda to improve schools.  Supports educating police before increasing their presence

*Gene Siudut – assistant editor of La Gaceta, promises to be a voice for New Tampa

Cyril Spiro – a physician

*Luis Viera has a vision for improving mass transportation and supports balancing investment in both downtown and north Tampa.  He notes that North Tampa has the bulk of the jobs but a deficit in amenities to support those jobs, which is a very good point.  Former attorney, young, comes highly recommended by the Tampa Bay Times and the Democratic Party of Florida.


Amendments

I voted NO on all amendments except for Amendment 2.  These are always worded in a way that is confusing and not clear, so I’ve tried my best to make sense of them:

Amendment 1 allows companies to monopolize solar energy.  I feel like it’s important to keep renewable energy as accessible as possible to the average consumer.  I do believe it is the way we should be using solar energy as much as possible being that sunlight exists as a virtually inexhaustible source of energy for us to harness.  As astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson put it, “If aliens did visit us, I’d be embarrassed to tell them we still dig fossil fuels from the ground as a source of energy.”  (Vote No)

Amendment 2 allows people to use medical marijuana in Florida if they have a debilitating disease and a prescription.  I find it really odd that the only options available to people to manage pain and other ailments are extremely addictive and have a multitude of side effects.  This very specific legislation allows doctors to give Floridians a healthier option for various illnesses.  (Voted Yes)

Amendment 3 gives property tax exemptions for disabled first responders.  I wasn’t 100% sure about this but I eventually voted no.  I don’t think this is the best way to alleviate disabled persons, especially since it singles out one particular occupation for .  Also, Florida doesn’t have a whole lot of tax revenue sources so I think it should try to maintain the property tax.  A yes might mean raising taxes elsewhere, although some supporters argue that it wouldn’t have that great of an impact on tax revenue.  Regardless, I feel like a better way of alleviating the burden of disabled persons in general is to offer them other benefits (e.g. some better health coverage perhaps) instead of trying to cut corners here and there, making taxes more complicated.  It’s somewhat of a cop-out if you think about it.  It’s like saying, “Oh, you got shot while working for the county?  Well….good news – you won’t have to pay property taxes anymore!”  instead of  “Oh, you got shot while working for the county?  Here’s some decent health care treatment for you.”  Also, keep in mind that a property tax exemption wouldn’t benefit first responders who don’t own a home.  (Voted No)

Amendment 5 gives property tax exemptions to senior citizens who own homes.  This is a huge source of income for the state of Florida which already has plenty of benefits and an income tax free economy that senior citizens enjoy.  If we cut this tax stream, we’ll have to find a way to replace that revenue.  Florida is and is continuing to be a retirement state, largely because of low taxes and the many amenities that retirees get for living here.  I think it’s only appropriate that, if they own a home, they pay taxes on it just like everyone else. (Voted No)

 

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Disney’s Storytelling Tradition of an “Imperfect” Family

My sister pointed out to me that most Disney and Pixar protagonists have one parent (if any at all).  The other parent is either killed off, lost, or completely absent during the entire film.  Any film that you come up with off the top of your head (with only one exception that I’ll let you ponder about) lacks the model two-parent setup: Jasmine only has the Sultan as her Dad, Snow White has an absent father and an evil queen stepmother, Belle only has her father, Ariel only has King Triton as her dad, and Toy Story’s Andy has a single mom.  According to what my sister’s read, Walt Disney himself started this trend in Disney’s earliest films: Snow White, Cindarella, even Bambi.  Disney apparently felt that no one really has a perfect family life, so having both parents present in a story represented an unrealistic and idealistic image with which his audience would have trouble relating.  This may be true and even noble in its own respect; in a time where the American family was a particularly hyper-idealized image of a smiling couple with two kids and a dog, Disney sought to portray different types of families.  You could say that it broke down that idealized image.  It also showed that an “imperfect” family is something that is acceptable and normal.  It also addresses the pain Bambi felt when he lost his mother (and the horror that the rest of us felt) as something that can be overcome.

But I think there is something more important that we gain from Disney’s decision to consistently present us with single parents: it is much easier to digest the relationship between a child and one parent than it is to digest the relationship a child might have with a pair of parents.  Let’s take a look at this recent animated short, for example.  This 6 minute short film features a little bird and its mother bird during a pivotal time in its development; the film has no dialogue.

http://www.koreus.com/embed/piper-pixar

There’s a lot to examine in even this short, 6-minute clip.  You can acknowledge immediately that Piper has just one parent (and somehow through the magic of Disney animation we understand that it’s a mother).  The relationship between Piper and mother is very specific.  There is a moment at around 5:15 where the mother smiles lovingly at Piper playing on the shore.  There’s a bond there and a deep connection between two characters.  We aren’t distracted by a couple reacting here but instead just one character reacting to another.  And that simplicity does a lot.  Imagine two parents here; we’re already forced to question the relationship between those two parents before we can even begin to think about the relationship of the two individuals to Piper or the collective pair to Piper.  On top of all that, our own personal biases come into play – some might begin to compare and create judgments based on personal experiences with family life (which may or may not include two parents).  By eliminating all of that and keeping it to just one parent, Disney keeps the storytelling simple and straightforward.  It allows us to focus on that relationship – that loving bond that Piper has with mom.  All of the pretense and the overanalyzing fades away because it’s really more about this one relationship which was expertly conveyed by Pixar.  Perhaps there’s a better reason or maybe my sister’s original understanding of Walt Disney’s preference for the single parenting trend is accurate.  But there’s no denying that this element does, in fact, simplify and improve the storytelling.