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Florida state House District 16

District covers Lakewood, San Jose, Baymeadows and Mandarin

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Incumbent Republican state Rep. Jason Fischer is facing Democratic challenger Ben Marcus in this district that runs east of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville from Lakewood south to the St. Johns County line and east to include Baymeadows and Bayard.

Because there is only one candidate from each party, this race will only appear on the general election ballot in November.

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

  DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE

Ben Marcus

Party affiliation: Democratic

Age: 36

Candidate’s family: Wife, Roxy (36); Children, Judah (9), Elijah (7), Emilia (4)

Occupation: Nonprofit consultant, small business owner

Education: AA Sociology, Santa Fe College; BS Social Sciences, Jacksonville University; Master of Public Policy (expected Aug 2020), Jacksonville University

Political experience: First time candidate. Have volunteered and worked on local, state and federal campaigns

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

  • Fully funding traditional public schools
  • Securing resources to improve infrastructure, particularly with regards to drainage and flooding
  • Getting special interest money out of public policy debates

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

As the child and spouse of nonprofit professionals and as a small business owner I understand the everyday struggle working class people face and the hustle to pay the bills. I have spent my entire career working with diverse groups of people to improve effectiveness and results. This job is about working directly with constituents to improve the quality of life in the district. I will work as hard as I can to bring people together and into the process through town halls and advisory boards instead of just hiding away in some office taking money and draft legislation from special interest groups.

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

Ethics, accountability and inclusion. State legislators should be open, honest and available to constituents and I intend to lead by example. The office will be located in the district and a resource for constituents. I will actively reach out to ALL constituents and provide a variety of avenues to leverage the natural talent of the district. Policy making should not happen behind closed doors and I will do everything I can do change the culture behind it.

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

All people need to feel included and respected in society. Period.

- As a Jewish man I will never stand for effigies of people or the proliferation of ideologies which have oppressed my, or anyone else's people. Images of the Confederacy should find it's own place in a museum with similar context. Our public squares, buildings, roads, parks are places of honor to evolve with the People who pay for and use them.

- Law enforcement must be held to account by those they are charged with serving. While police officers do a hard and sometimes dangerous job it is never ok to racially profile, use excessive force on, arbitrarily arrest or harass people. Those who do must face swift consequences including removal from office. Just like there's no room for pilots who struggle to fly a plane, there is no room for police officers who don't respect every single resident and treat them as such. I support legislation requiring continuum of force policies, allowing for citizen oversight boards with real authority and incentivize dispatching other, unarmed resources to respond first or along side law enforcement to assess and handle calls which does not require an armed response. Additionally, body cam footage should be released in a timely fashion and officers who have broken the law must be held responsible, not have their actions swept under the rug.

- Investment into schools, roads, water and sewer and other public assets must be increased in historically marginalized parts of town still waiting for unfulfilled promises.

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

Budgeting will be one of the biggest challenges any elected body will face these next few years, especially here in Florida. Our state budget was already under significant pressure before COVID, let alone now that we have experienced billions of dollars in lost revenue from widespread suspended tourism. I have been calling for a special session since the end of the regular one to get our budget in order for this year to no avail. While I have pledged to work to keep taxes low we must find every single penny we can to ensure essential services like public education and safety trampoline programs like food stamps and direct assistance are stable and able to be covered at the very least. We cannot afford to give huge tax breaks to major corporations, for one, and should also take a hard look at private organizations which have been contracted to handle government functions (like education) to ensure public dollars aren't simply going to line private pockets. The People's budget should be accountable, transparent and absent of waste and graft. For too long the real cost of government has been hidden from view with trust funds being raided and pork barrel spending. We must build trust with taxpayers with honesty about what it really takes to ensure a high quality of life for Floridians. This job is about representing and working directly with the People to do their work, not sitting in an office filing bills you've been handed by big dollar donors or powerful party members.

Campaign Website: VoteBenMarcus.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

  REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE

Jason Fischer

Party affiliation: Republican (incumbent)

Campaign website: jasonforflorida.com

This candidate has not yet responded to our News4Jax questionnaire.