When Rep. Rick Kriseman announced he would not be seeking another term in the Florida House of Representatives, Democrats were forced to find someone able to carry on Kriseman’s progressive legacy. The Democrats certainly found their man in Josh Shulman, an eager, intelligent candidate who certainly appears to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.
Shulman ran and lost last year a campaign for the St. Petersburg City Council and now faces a tough general election fight against the winner of the Kathleen Peters vs. David Phillips GOP primary. Still, Shulman is carrying the hopes of local Democrats who do not want to see this reliably Democratic seat move to the Republican column.
Daphne Street sat down with Shulman for an interview. Here are five questions for Josh Shulman…
Daphne Street: What are three top issues you intend to address in the House?
Josh Shulman: First is education, to make public schools in Florida a quality choice. Also to improve the FCAT to be used as an accountability tool that should be used to identify areas that need improvement and resources to strengthen, not to be used as a punitive tool to punish lower performing schools and withdraw resources they need to be successful.
Second is infrastructure—to develop Florida’s infrastructure through construction projects, which will help get people back to work. One of the most important things about developing construction projects is that they are not outsourced. The workers are right here.
Third is to prioritize the beach communities and protect them. There are two parts to this—one, to protect the environment of these communities and two, to protect the economy of these communities, supporting tourism, economic development and businesses.
DS: How would you describe your leadership style and why is it effective?
JS: My leadership style tends to be collaborative. No one has a monopoly on good ideas, and if we find what we agree on and focus there, we will save a lot of time and do a much better job of managing resources.
DS: Why is your community and public service important to you?
JS: I am not from here, I chose to make Pinellas County my home—my wife is from here. I moved here 14 years ago, and I have made this my home because of the people, the quality of the people here with their diversity of thoughts. There are all different kinds of people here, and that diversity makes for a great community. It is also a gorgeous environment, and things move at a calmer pace than other places—it’s a nice pace here where you can enjoy life.
DS: What sets you apart from other candidates – why should we vote for you?
JS: To be honest, I have not really studied what the other candidates are doing—my campaign is not about running against anyone in aprticular. I understand, of course, that this is an election and that there are competitors, but I am running against the current power structure that exists in Tallahassee for change. We need a balanced government regardless of party—there is more than one idea, and there are truths in the middle and the left as well as right. A government is best with diverse ideas, and I provide a new view to add to the conversation, not one committed to divisiveness.
DS: What does your vision of the future look like—what change will you help to make if elected?
JS: My vision for Florida is to stop fighting on things that are really divisive. There is a current trend in government of pitting class against class and community against community. This does not encourages businesses and families to move here and stay here. I have a stable view of state government that is needed, one that is competitive and fair. We need to give up ideology in favor of practicality, and put differences aside to make things work. I disagree with the conservative versus progressive view—we need both. We need to be progressive in our ideas and conservative with our budget and resources. It’s not one or the other.
Interview with Josh Shulman, candidate for Florida House of Representatives, District 69.