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Florida state House District 11

District covers Nassau County, Northeast Duval County its beaches

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Republican incumbent state Rep. Cord Byrd is being challenged by Democrat Joshua Hicks in this district which covers all of Nassau County and some voters in coastal Duval County including all three beach communities. Because neither candidate has a party opponent, this race will only appear on the November general election ballot.

Scroll down to read each candidate’s responses to News4Jax’s questionnaire, presented verbatim as submitted.

  DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE

Joshua Hicks

Party affiliation: Democratic

Age: 36

Candidate’s family: Phillip Perry (husband)

Occupation: Platform Administrator with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance

Education: Graduate of Florida State University, Class of 2007, Double Major, Bachelor of Science degree

Political experience: Yes. I’ve had political jobs, including on campaigns for Governor and Agriculture Commissioner. Been involved in the Leon County Democratic Party and now the Duval County Democratic Party, and has served as an intern and legislative page in the Florida House. Never held an elected position.

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

So many Floridians are struggling right now and their needs aren’t being represented in Tallahassee. In fact, policies enacted by my opponent in the Florida Legislature have actually made our current health and economic crisis worse. I’m running to undo this damage and pass policies that will keep our community healthy, safe, and affordable. My career reflects my values. I believe we need to expand healthcare access, invest and support our public education system, and grow our local economy, starting with better jobs with higher wages, while supporting small businesses.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I’m a native North Floridian. My brothers and I were raised in a Catholic household by a single mother who worked multiple jobs to provide for us. Because of her example, I’ve always understood the meaning of a hard day’s work. Through my life experiences, I know the power of a good public education and why we need to do more to support working Floridians and their families.After my education, I dedicated my career to giving back and making a difference in the non-profit sector. I’ve worked for the People for the American Way Foundation, the Service Employees International Union, the League of Conservation Voters, and currently with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. I’ve also served on the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence’s Young Professionals Board and am a member of the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus.My career reflects my values. I believe we need to empower young people, expand healthcare access, protect our environment and tackle climate change, ensure equality for all, and keep our communities safe from gun violence. So many Floridians are struggling right now and their needs aren’t being represented in Tallahassee. That’s why I’m running for State Representative. Unlike my opponent, who seems only interested in advancing his own career, I’m committed to placing the people of District 11 first and placing our needs above the corporate interests. Our First Coast community needs someone in Tallahassee who will address our kitchen table issues... not play politics when people’s lives are at risk.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

A consensus builder. Politics in Tallahassee are broken. You have members who are more interested in representing a specific party, or supporting a specific leader, rather than looking out for what’s best for the district they represent. As State Representative, I’ll always want to place the people first and I’ll always seek common ground when it’s available.If elected, I would be the first openly gay State Representative from Northeast Florida. I would hope that my election would further advance society’s acceptance of all people. Equality and justice are at the forefront of today’s political discussions and I would hope that once I’ve served my full term, that I would be remembered as someone who always promoted equality and seeked justice for individuals who are often forgotten.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

Our campaign has been impacted by George Floyd’s murder and the protests. It has made me search for answers about systemic racism in our country. I am gay, so I understand the fight for equality but I do not, as a white male, understand the struggle of our Black and Brown brothers and sisters across the country. So I educated myself, I went and protested, and I’ve been vocal in my support for real reform in America.While I did that, my opponent said nothing. He has still said nothing. In fact, he held a Trump Flotilla during the heart of the protests, where many of his supporters waves confederate flags. He doesn’t denounce that.But this movement has helped me create a clear platform for what I want to see solved in Florida, when it comes to systemic racism and police brutality. I support a ban on “chokeholds”. I support a ban on no-knock warrants for drug cases. I support a system of monitoring our police forces for excessive force use and creating incentives for the departments doing good work. I support an easier claims process system for those who were wronged, harmed or had family killed by the police or law enforcement. I support additional sensitivity training for law enforcement, and would support it being done multiple times a year. But we can’t stop there... Florida needs bail and sentencing reform, we need to stop spending so much of our state’s budget on law enforcement and we need to end the war on drugs.Sadly, systemic racism has been built into our nation’s systems for centuries and it’s up to us to listen, learn, and work every day to address and fix it once and for all.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

It obviously changes how we can campaign. No in-person events like rallies, fundraisers, and town halls. It limits the person to person contact but allows us to get creative in how we campaign and how we get our message out into the First Coast community. But ultimately, it’s not about the campaign but about community safety. This is a public health and public safety issue and we must take this virus seriously. As we work to reopen Florida, we must do it with the public’s best interests in mind. They place their trust in us so that we can protect them and their families.

Campaign website: votejoshuahicks.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook | Twitter

  REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE

Cord Byrd

Party affiliation: Republican (incumbent)

Age: 49

Candidate’s family: Wife Esther Byrd children son Dominic daughter Lexie

Occupation: Attorney

Education: BA political science Univ. of North Florida, JD St Thomas Univ. School of Law

Political experience: 2 term incumbent in the Florida House of Representatives

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

  1. Protection of constitutional liberties
  2. Economic recovery from the pandemic
  3. School choice and expanded educational opportunity for students and families.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

Knowledge, experience and effectiveness. After two terms in office I have a proven record as a leader in the Legislature and advocate for the values and issues important to the constituents of HD 11. I have been able to pass bi-partisan legislation on an issue as contentious as voting/election integrity and have built relationships statewide that ensure HD 11 and North Florida as a region succeeds in Tallahassee.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

I took an oath to the constitution and promised my constituents that I would live up to that oath with every vote. My record proves that I have done that even when it meant voting against my own leadership. I have also had the courage to tackle big contentious issues and the skill to see them enacted into law.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

The same way that I have as an attorney for 23 years. I have represented individuals in cases involving discrimination and civil rights. I have heard the stories of people discriminated against because of the way they look or what they believe. I take that knowledge and experience with me to Tallahassee and have filed legislation to ensure the promise of equal justice for all. The remedy for social injustice is not to abandon constitutional liberty but to ensure that it is equally applied.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

There are two great challenges to this pandemic. First, ensuring public safety while protecting liberty is a challenge in a free society. Second, it is unprecedented in our history that government shut down the entire economy. This has had a devastating impact on individuals and businesses. The financial impacts are far reaching and will likely take years from which to recover.

Campaign website: cordbyrd.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook | Twitter