This past Saturday the Lake County Democratic Black Caucus hosted a wonderful event at Hickory Point Park in Tavares.

Great food, great people and great ideas. Several local leaders and candidates joined us to discuss issues that impact Lake County. The kids had a great time playing with one another and the face-painters did a wonderful job. If you missed it here is an overview of what the speakers shared with us.

Bill Bone. Mayor of Leesburg

Mayor Bone discussed the proposed expansion of The Villages and the impact that it will have on the City of Leesburg. There would be a significant increase in the taxes collected which could be used to move forward some of Leesburg’s future plans. He also shared that area residents can look forward to new road improvements on Dixie Ave. and also at the 441/27 intersection.  Leesburg recently gave city employees a 5% raise. 
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Captain George Whitaker, Leesburg Police Department

Capt. Whitaker gave us information on what the Leesburg Police Department is doing to combat crime and build relationships in the area. One of the programs recently implemented is “Police Pop-Ups”. The police dept. recently acquired a trailer that they take to areas around the city where young people gather. Once they pull in with the trailer they pull out a grill and start to BBQ hot dogs and hamburgers to be shared with everyone. This is a great idea to help build a relationship between our young people and police  They also have Community Officers who are assigned throughout the area to serve as a liaison between the residents and the police department. This is another great way to build trust and lines of communication. He aslo mentioned that the current officer shortage is in the progress of being addressed and how the department is working with other local municipalities and the sheriff department to address area burglaries and the opioid epidemic. 
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Perry Berkowitz, Candidate for Lake County School District- District 1

Candidate Berkowitz has 50 years of experience in education and he pointed out that he does not think that school principles should not have the ability to decide if there is access to art, music and other enrichment programs offered at the school. He also discussed that we should ask how a student’s economic future would be impacted by the schools curriculum decisions. He believes that it is imperative that we work to build students’ self-esteem.
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Debra Kaplan. Candidate for Florida State House-District 31

Candidate Kaplan discussed how the needs of our area are not being met and that we need we must address our roadways that are in disrepair, especially non-toll roads. She drew attention to the fact that we need to bring good-paying jobs into the state, not just service related jobs and that the jobs should provide a living wage. 
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Candidate  for Florida Senate Robert Doyel -District 22

Candidate Doyel was one of 10 kids raised by a single mom with no running water. He went on to serve in Vietnam, become a judge, a law school professor and more. He understands that what Florida needs is opportunities, better jobs at a livable wage. He discussed how the “home rule” is being changed and that we need to bring decisions on local issues back to local government.
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Jeff Rabinowitz, Congressional Candidate Florida’s District 15

Candidate Rabinowitz strongly advocated for closing loopholes that protect the wealthy.  He suggested taking $500 billion of that money and apply it to public education, giving each district $1 billion to improve schools and fund much needed resources. One of the goals of rebuilding our public education system is to prepare students to compete in a challenging and evolving workforce. Polk County is #1 in the country for food insecurity.He proposes creating aplace where kids can get meals 3 times a day, every day.
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Susan Fetter, Volunteer Coordinator , Lake County Democratic Committee and Water Advocate

Susan Fetter shared with us that the push for better fertilizer regulation is moving forward at state and local levels. She also highlighted the work that is being done across the county to collect petitions for the various candidates by our wonderful volunteers.
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Lillian Lockette, President of the Lake County Democratic Black Caucus

Lillian Lockette shared with us what she learned at the  Florida Rights Restoration Coalition the progress being made in this very important endeavor. She also discussed the important work that the Lake County Democratic Black Caucus does across our area.
We would like to thank the Lake County Democratic Black Caucus for providing such a wonderful event and for bringing in such a thoughtful and engaging group of speakers. If you would like information on how you can become involved you can do so HERE. You can also like their Facebook page HERE.