Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Q&A with Sean Shaw

sean_shaw On Wednesday September 12th, Florida Netroots hosted a live chat with Sean Shaw candidate for Florida House of Representatives District 8.

The seat is currently occupied by Democratic Representative Curtis B. Richardson who is term limited. Other candidates running for this seat include: Hubert R. Brown (D), Rodney S. Moore (D), Anthony "Dr. V" Viegbesie (D), and Alan Williams (D).

District 8 is made up of most of Gadsden and parts of Leon County in the big bend region of Florida.

Florida Legislative District 8

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sean Shaw, candidate for Florida House District 8 covering parts of Gadsden and Leon Counties in the big bend region of Florida, and here is the transcript from our conversation:

[Jennifer] So, to get started ... what do you think the voters in District 8 should know about you?

[SeanShaw] That I am qualified and well-prepared to fight for the interests of those that often get pushed to the bottom

[SeanShaw] I want to live in a state where we place education, health care, state workers and law enforcement as TOP priorities

[SeanShaw] Florida is a prosperous state - and it is for this reason that we should be appaled at...

[SeanShaw] Education Spending

[SeanShaw] Teacher Pay

[SeanShaw] Law Enforcement and Firefighter pay

[SeanShaw] State Worker benefits

[SeanShaw] Health care for the uninsured and various other kinds of social programs

[SeanShaw] Florida consistently ranks in the bottom (nationally) in almost all of these categories

[SeanShaw] It's a matter of commitment and changing priorities...that is what this campaign revolves around

[SeanShaw] :-)

[Jennifer] Are there some unique concerns in any of those areas that are specific to Gadsden/Leon Counties?

[SeanShaw] Definitely Health care... the infant mortality rate in both Leon and Gadsden counties for black babies is at a third world level

[SeanShaw] And infant mortality is something that can be treated with proper health care, it is not complicated

[SeanShaw] There is a large population of state workers in the district as well that certainly deserve more than a $650 (after taxes) raise...

[Jennifer] absolutely ... I was shocked when I learned about that ... I'm not sure enough people realize that infant mortality is a problem anywhere in the U.S. - let alone right here.

[SeanShaw] Exactly. Terrible statistics in such a "progressive" state...

[SeanShaw] Florida needs to make a commitment to these sort of areas...economic incentives to big businesses will do nothing if we don't have healthy people to take advantage

[SeanShaw] and if we don't have an educated work force

[SeanShaw] The question is "What does our state value?"

[SeanShaw] Do we value our k-12 students? Teachers? Firefighters? Police? Uninsured?

[SeanShaw] Apparently not, when you look at our spending in these categories vs. the national data.

[Jennifer] exactly

[SeanShaw] I want to live in a state that values these basic needs

[SeanShaw] That is my vision.

[Jennifer] Is that why you decided to run for the Florida Legislature?

[SeanShaw] These are the first budgets to get cut, and the last to get a bump

[SeanShaw] It is, this is a district that needs a strong voice. And it must come from someone who believes in these inequities, and is not just spouting a slogan. But that is what campaigning is about, to convince the voters that you mean what you say are are ready and willing to fight.

[SeanShaw] I have always been very involved in the community and my involvement brought me face to face with a lot of these problems. I wanted to do something about it.

[SeanShaw] In addition, I always wanted to give back to my community in this way-through public service.

[Jennifer] Describe the kind of community work you've done.

[SeanShaw] I am on the Board of Directors for the Bond Community Health Clinic, NAACP, Capital Area Community Action Agency, Communities in Schools of Leon County, Tallahassee YMCA Minority Achievement Program, Leon High School Alumni Assoc., Tallahassee Bar Assoc, Young Lawyers Section...

[Jennifer] impressive list

[SeanShaw] I have been a mentor in various capacities as well, most recently through the Leon County Schools

[SeanShaw] thanks...

[SeanShaw] I don't have a wife or kids yet, so I have some time

[Jennifer] What sets you apart from the other candidates? I think there are 4 other Dems running for this seat.

[SeanShaw] I believe my community involvement for one - I have been working in the trenches with respect to these issues. In addition, it always helps to have a lawyer making the laws right? ;-) But to be serious, I can back to Tallahassee after College and Law School because specifically because I wanted to fight for those segments of the community that are too often ignored. I have shown that commitment for the long hall, and I have an understanding of the issues involved.

[Jennifer] It's one of the few safe Democratic seats in the Legislature. One of my main concerns is redistricting ... the gerrymandering in this state is ridiculous ... what needs to be done for the Democratic Party to gain more seats in the Legislature to ensure we have a say in drawing the maps next time around?

[SeanShaw] Non-Partisan Committee to Re-draw the Maps

[SeanShaw] but since that won't happen...perhaps a committee with appointees from all branches of Gov.

[SeanShaw] But you are exactly correct, the gerrymandering that has taken place (on both sides admittedly) is unfortunate.

[SeanShaw] You know, the democratic message is simply a better message. We just need to build a bench of strong young candidates that can articulate it

[Jennifer] its definately not limited to Republicans ... but its certainly drawn in their favor at the moment.

[SeanShaw] The Rep. have young strong leaders who will be around for a while. We should find strong candidates as well.

[SeanShaw] Correct, they are certainly benefiting from the current configuration!

[Jennifer] Those of us in the Netroots (and grassroots) are certainly working to help get out the Democratic message, but is there anything we can do to help encourage more people like you to run for office?

[SeanShaw] You know, all candidates who are not heavily involved in the political "process" as opposed to politics are intimidated by $$

[SeanShaw] The connections and contacts to raise the requisite $ to finance a campaign can be daunting.

[SeanShaw] I believe that we need to get young Dem. involved in campaigns early so that they know what yo expect. When you don't know it can be daunting, however once you get a feel for it, it's doable.

[SeanShaw] When a candidate that appears to be a good one rises up, offer the grass roots support and other intangibles that can negate $$

[SeanShaw] That's my advice.

[Jennifer] Is there anything you wanted to let people know that I didn't ask you?

[SeanShaw] Well, my contact info. in on your site, but I would encourage them to go to to get a feel of my campaign. And to certainly contact me to learn more.

[SeanShaw] And yes, I attended the University of Florida in Gainesville for Law School. That got me killed in my most recent internet interview!

[Jennifer] I have two brothers who are Gators ... so I don't hold it against you.

[SeanShaw] But I certainly want the people to know that I know the issues, am prepared to fight, and will work tirelessly to advocate on behalf of District 8.

[SeanShaw] Go Gators!

Jennifer] It was a pleasure chatting with you and I wish you the best with your campaign.

[SeanShaw] Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed.

Mr. Shaw was also interviewed by our friends over at Florida Progressive Radio, you may want to listen to his interview there as well.