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Florida state House District 12

District covers East Arlington and parts of old Arlington and the Southside

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Two Democrats and a fellow Republican are running against an incumbent lawmaker in this district which stretches from East Arlington and parts of old Arlington and the Southside south to J. Turner Butler Boulevard.

Clay Yarbough is being challenged in the Republican Primary by Colin McArthur. Democrats Emmanuel Blimie is facing Spyros “Speed” Chialtas in the August primary. The two winners will appear on the November ballot.

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

  DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES

Emmanuel Blimie

Party affiliation: Democratic

Age: 35

Candidate’s family: (no response)

Occupation: Music Executive/Consultant

Education: MBA Management/Information Systems

Political experience: Student Body Vice President/Campaign Organizer

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

  • Jobs
  • Education Funding
  • Youth Progress

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

By not taking salary and stacking up Tax Payer's tax bill. I believe Lawmakers should serve based on passion. It is time that Lawmakers are paid stipend based on hour worked because they are pretty much looking out for themselves, lining out their own pocket and getting deals on almost every bill that they write, introduce or pass. Like my opponent, incumbent Clay Yarborough's bill giving away one million dollars of Tax Payer's hard earned money to one Charter School that belongs to one Donor when Clay could have introduced a bill funding all Schools across the board. That right there, is not a Republican thing or a Democrat thing to do. And, sadly, Clay's not the only Lawmaker out there looking out for him or her self. That is why my first week as your State Representative for District 12, I will be introducing "Benefit to a Bill" legislation to bring about transparency, so Tax Payer like yourself can see whenever a Lawmaker benefits off of a bill that s/he writes, introduces or passes.

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

From experience, success in one area tends to duplicate itself or apply into another areas. But I will certainly be remembered as the guy who harnessed the strengths of Congregations/Nonprofits to stir our Youth with high propensity for crime in the right through Mentorship where these Youth will be paid Stipend for successfully completed assigned tasks. And for incentivizing businesses to come and invest into poor communities and create good jobs.

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

I will introduce legislation that forges a strong Community-Police partnership so that Police Officers aren't just visible at crime scenes, arrests and pullovers.

I will Introduce legislation for a Statewide database on Police Officers so that those few racists Officers that are disguised behind the badge and are giving good Police Officers bad names are documented for re-training or termination.

The honest truth is, there are also few racist not only disguised behind the Police badge but behind Judges' robes as well and that too will need to be addressed with an independent review board.

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

One of those challenges is Citizen participation. Pretty difficult to go out and meet folks and hear first hand their views on issues.

Campaign website: flemmanuel.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook


Spyros “Speed” Chialtas

Party affiliation: Democratic

Age: 48

Candidate’s family: Danette (Wife) Athena (Daughter) 2 dogs; Jasmine and Dori 2 cats; Little and Tiger Lilly

Occupation: Realtor

Education: Professional Certification

Political experience: Volunteered for Obama in 08 & 12, Staff Data and Turf for Darren Mason 2019

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

  • Fixing Florida's Unemployment System
  • Equality for all
  • Properly investing in our public school system.

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

As the only military Veteran running in Dist 12, I can bring the discipline, structure and ability to work as a team. Dist. 12 needs a representative that will first listen to the constituents thru Town Halls. Not just when it's election time but all the time. Dist. 12 needs a representative that has lived in the community for over 15 years. One that has volunteered time and skills with schools, community organizations and non-profit organizations. Not one that recently moved from South Florida just to run for office.(Blimie) Dist. 12 DOES'T need representatives to propose Healthy Marriage Handbooks that are required prior to getting a marriage license. (Clay FL H0319) Instead we need a representative that WILL propose legislation similar to this but for gun ownership.

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

I would hope to be remembered as a State Representative that listened to his constituents. As an honest State Representative. A Representative that was able to not only look at short term solutions for our schools, that are great for getting re-elected, like more computers, laptops etc. But investing in the long-term solutions by rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure of our public school system. Building new energy efficient buildings that will save our school boards money. As a Representative that worked hard and had the discipline needed to follow thru on issues that benefited all Floridians, not just my base.

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

We need to amend the Florida Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights to ensure all law enforcement agencies had a civilian review board with subpoena powers. Such boards will aide in the process to review all cases and complaints filed against an officer. They would have the ability to recommend no action, retraining of an Officer and even termination.

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

COVID-19 is a challenge for everyone. It is changing the way we all conduct our day to day duties. We need to do everything possible to keep our citizens safe. We need to motivate everyone to take every precautionary measure with regards to social distancing and wearing PPE. We need to show our constituents by uniting together using ourselves as an example, that we are taking this seriously.

Campaign website: Speed4Jax.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Twitter | Facebook

  REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES

Colin Ross McArthur

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 27

Candidate’s family: Single

Occupation: Small Business Owner

Education: Kenyon College B.A.

Political experience: Outsider

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

  • Economy
  • Education
  • Increased Individual Liberty

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

As a small business owner who is not a career politician, I can bring a fresh, practical perspective to creating bipartisan solutions to local issues.

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

Acting as a public servant that best represents my constituents' needs.

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

Help ensure equal opportunity and justice for everyone. Put into practice Dr. Martin Luther King's dream of equality.

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

Ensure economic growth while maintaining public health and safety. Proactively adjusting government's response based on scientific developments as we learn more.

Campaign website: colinforjax.com

Campaign’s social media pages: tbd


Clay Yarborough

Party affiliation: Republican (incumbent)

Age: 39

Candidate’s family: Married, four children

Occupation: Business Development

Add Tag to Answer

Education: Bachelor of Business Administration, UNF

Political experience: Jacksonville City Council Member 2007-2015, Council President 2014-2015; Florida House of Representatives 2016-present

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

We are living in unprecedented times. The global pandemic has separated us in many ways, from how we view the crisis to what should be done as we ease into a recovery model. Therefore, the top three issues are:

  1. How we as a state and community ensure our economy does not further suffer while ensuring our people are safe
  2. At the Federal level, we have seen an explosion of spending and increasing deficits. As a state, we are Constitutionally-mandated to have a balanced budget, but we need to ensure that in our rush to “normalize,”--and understanding that revenues will be down significantly this year--that we do not eat too deeply into our rainy day funds.
  3. Some will call for a tax increase to offset decreased revenues. This is the wrong time to even consider something like that.

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

Having grown up in District 12 and now raising a family here, I understand the needs of our community. Also, with experience from City Council and now in the Florida House, I have a working knowledge of the balance it takes to effectively serve and reach solutions for constituents.

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

I hope it would be said that I worked hard to make Jacksonville and Florida even better than how I found them and that I was always accessible to those I represented, no matter the issue.

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

A daily and lifetime goal of mine is to treat others the way I want to be treated. When legislation seeking to negate injustice comes before me, I will view it through that lens.

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

Since March, my staff and I have worked every day to assist Floridians with challenges they have faced in obtaining unemployment assistance. This has been our number one priority. When the Legislature reconvenes, policy and budget changes due to the virus are expected to be at the forefront. My commitment to District 12 constituents and all of Florida remains unchanged. If re-elected, and I hope to be, I pledge to well and faithfully perform the duties of the office and maintain their trust as their representative and voice in Tallahassee.

Campaign website: clayforjax.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Twitter | Facebook