Vote like your bus ride depends on it

Public transit sucks in Central Florida – really in most of Florida – because most of the politicians on the Nov. 6 ballot don’t care about public transportation.

We know this because we embarked on a month-long investigation to survey federal, state and county commission candidates whose names are on Central Florida ballots.

Through the efforts of researcher Robin Denise Harris, we posed 2 simple questions:
If elected, does the candidate plan to support efforts to improve and expand SunRail?
If elected, does the candidate plan to support efforts to improve and expand Lynx (or Votran for candidates in Volusia County)?

Of the 38 candidates we reached out to (trying several times if candidates did not respond to the first query) 17 candidates answered yes.

Those answering YES included:
U.S. House: Darren Soto, Wayne Liebnitsky
Florida Senate candidate: Melissa Martin
Florida House candidates: Tracey Kagen, Ricky Shirah, Barbara Cady, Geraldine Thompson, Anna Eskamani, Amy Mercado, Carlos Guillermo Smith, Pam Dirschka
Orange County Commission candidates: Christine Moore, Patricia Rumph and Mayra Uribe
Osceola County Commission candidates: Viviana Janer and Cheryl Grieb
Volusia County Council candidate: Barbara Girtman

The other candidates did not respond. One candidate died during the campaign.

We counted no response as a NO because if a candidate running for office can’t or won’t respond to a basic bread-and-butter question about public transportation, then they really don’t care about this community. Don’t they understand that traffic and transportation are major public policy issues that affect the health, future and potential prosperity of this region?

The campaign of Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Orlando said that they don’t respond to surveys. Huh?

If her campaign won’t answer 2 simple questions, then how are people supposed to know what the Honorable Ms. Murphy stands for?

Out of fairness, we’re obligated to report that Mike Miller, Ms. Murphy’s Republican challenger, would not respond to the survey.

Many candidates were difficult to contact because they do not list phone numbers or email addresses on their campaign websites or social media. They want our votes, but they don’t want to hear from us unless we’re donating money.

Here are the candidates who did not respond to our survey.
U.S. Senate: Bill Nelson and Rick Scott
US House: Nancy Soderburg, Mike Waltz, Bill Posey, Sanjay Patel
Florida House: Lee Mangold, David Smith, Scott Plakton, Josie Tomkow, Ben Griffin, Bobby Olszewski, Stockton Reeves, George Chandler, Rene Plasencia
Orange County Commission: Pete Crotty
Osceola County Commission: Wanda Rentas
Volusia County Council: Pat Patterson

The reason SunRail doesn’t run late at night or on the weekends is that most of our elected officials don’t care. Politicians have the power to improve the service.
The reason why Lynx and Votran riders must walk miles to bus stops or wait up to an hour in the pouring rain and under the boiling sun is that our politicians don’t care. The politicians have the power to improve the service.

In a previous article, we noted that Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis opposes SunRail. He calls it a boondoggle. Click here to hear DeSantis talk about transportation.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum supports more investment in public transit. Click here for Gillum’s position on this topic.

Vote for politicians who are #woke and care about public transit.

Vote Tuesday, Nov. 6 because our public transit and future depend on it.


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