Democratic Nominee, Florida House District 45
Fmr. Chair, Garden Theatre Board
Chair, Orange County Sheriff’s Office Citizens Advisory Committee
Valencia College Peace and Justice Institute Advisory Council,
Secretary of Veteran Affairs Advisory Committee for Minority Veterans
Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for the State of Florida (Central)
Business Management, Diversity Consultant
Webster University, M.A., Human Resource Management
American Intercontinental Technology, B.S., Information Technology
Vice president of Vystar Credit Union, Allie Braswell, a moderate Democrat, faces Republican Carolina Amesty on Nov. 8 to represent House District 45.
Braswell served nearly 12 years in the Marine Corps as a signals intelligence analyst and cryptologic linguist assigned to the National Security Agency. He was also a member of the Secretary of Veteran Affairs Advisory Committee for Minority Veterans. He continues to serve as Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army in Central Florida.
A former Walt Disney Parks and Resorts executive, Braswell had two cast member careers: one in technical services and one in corporate responsibility. That, he told a group of supporters in September, drove him to give back to the community. He fostered diverse and inclusive workplaces at Disney, the Mayo Clinic and Vystar and now as president of the Braswell Group consults with corporations on improving business through diversity, equity and inclusiveness training. Along with his late wife, he helped expand the Innovation Montessori charter school in Ocoee after it moved from its original Winter Garden location.
Braswell helmed the Central Florida Urban League where he expanded the organization’s mission from serving primarily African-Americans and underserved populations to a broad base of Central Floridians, providing affordable housing, jobs that pay a living wage and economic hardship.
Braswell experienced his own economic hardships with three bankruptcies in his life. He has said he paid them off.
“My campaign is about powering people, helping people, bringing people together,” he said.
Here’s where he stands on key issues.
Braswell said voters tell him that the bills passed in the special legislative session didn't go far enough. “You had two sessions in the legislature that solved nothing. There was $2 billion advanced to insurance companies, but rates didn't go down, and there was no guarantee that they were going to stay in the state.”
He said any incentives offered to insurance companies had to be tied to lowering rates. He also wants to see tort reform.
“I don’t think we should ever shut down access to a court system, but I think we can teach our attorneys to utilize the court system for the right things and not just go in and immediately start filing claims that drive costs up. I think it's a collaborative effort between the insurance companies who want to come to the table. I think it's a joint effort between attorneys who want to come to the table. So, let's set the table, invite others and figure out how we bring property insurance costs down and how do we make it more affordable.”
Braswell wants to stop raiding the Sadowski Fund to balance the state budget and use those monies instead for downpayment assistance programs and to encourage developers to build affordable housing.
He points out that there are plenty of homes being built, but most are for the luxury market.
“It’s one thing to continue to build. But if you’re only building luxury apartments that are priced out of most people’s incomes, we have got to come up with another way to incent developers to also build enough affordable housing.
“The way you fix affordable housing is to provide more affordable housing,” he said. “I don't think there's a one-stop solution. I think it's going to take a collaborative effort, listening to developers who want to make a change and listening to the legislators who want to leverage those dollars to incent builders to put more affordable housing properties out there.”
VoxPopuli asked Braswell how to retain and attract teachers amid fear of school shootings and fear of parental lawsuits for teaching controversial subjects.
“Number one, I think safety is paramount for everybody,” he said. “We need to continue to fund our law enforcement into the schools, and we need to look at how do we get guns off the street and make sure that we have safety in the classroom.
“Number two, I don’t agree with that new [Don’t Say Gay] bill that was signed. I’m not supportive of it in any manner. I think people need to be authentically who they are, and I think we need to look at how we reverse that. I do not believe any teacher walks into a classroom with the intention to indoctrinate anyone into any type of belief. I think they walk into a classroom with a desire to teach.”
Braswell added that he wants misinformation that critical race theory is being taught in public K-12 classrooms stopped. “The governor keeps telling people that critical race theory — not cultural relevnce training — is taught in elementary, middle and high school. They're taking the initials and they're totally misinforming people. We need to have somebody that can stand up and say, That's not correct. But you can't do it yelling from the furthest extremes.”
Braswell also favors fast-tracking certifications for educators with master’s degrees along with certification reciprocity so that teachers from other states can start teaching in Orange County without having to get recertified. He also backs incentives like offering mortgage reductions for teachers who teach at Title 1 schools.
Above all, he said, legislators need to talk with teachers. “They know better than anyone what should be done and how to do it in order to keep them here,” he told the Orlando Sentinel.
Braswell says he has “mixed feelings” about school vouchers.
“I think it's what you intend to do with the voucher. If you have the wherewithal to send your child to private school, I think you should bear the cost of doing that. But at the same time, I've seen vouchers work very well for kids who are in schools that are not as up to date, and we need to move this child and give them a different way of learning.”
Braswell said his grandson struggled in public school but did well at a Montessori charter school. “I would've liked to have known that if we couldn't get him to a charter school, we could have possibly used a voucher to take him to where he needed to be. So I'm torn between if it's used correctly, I support it, but, when it's misused and abused, then I have problems.”
REEDY CREEK IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT
A former Disney executive, Braswell opposed Gov. Ron DeSantis’s dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which goes into effect June 2023. In a statement, Braswell called it “a hastily written and wholly unstudied plan in order to score political points.” Speaking to a gathering of Democrats, Braswell said that Disney shouldn’t have been punished for backing the LGBTQ community. “It shouldn’t be a retaliatory move because someone stood up for a group of people.”
SECOND AMENDMENT/GUN SAFETY
“I'm not against the Second Amendment," Braswell said. "I have my own weapon, but I've been trained, I know how to use it, I know how to safeguard it. I know how to protect it so it doesn't get in the hands of children. I also understand the power that it has."
Braswell is against assault weapons and constitutional carry. “I don't think you just give everybody a weapon and say, Strap it on and go out there.”
“When I was in the Marine Corps, they gave me my M16-2, and they gave me my nine-millimeter weapon. The only time I got to use those was when I was headed to war or when I was going to range. Every day I had to check it back into safe storage. If the Marine Corps can have that principle, why can't we have that at our home? I think too many young lives have been lost.”
Braswell also favors raising the purchase age for guns to 25, which is when the brain’s executive functions are fully developed. Even then, he wants to see gun purchases predicated on weapons training that “should not be anything less than the 60 hours of training I received when I was a young Marine.”
Braswell is a strong defender of women's reproductive rights and believes more men should lend their support. “I am pro-choice and pro-reproductive rights,” Braswell said. “That is between a woman, her faith and her doctor. I don’t believe we should legislate that. We have to look at the back-end of that. We turn to some terrible practices and some unfortunate deaths when we don’t do this correctly. So I don’t think an all out ban on abortion is the right thing to do.”
Assisting veterans is a major plank in Braswell’s platform. The former Marine wants to work on providing dental benefits to more veterans. “Unless you are 100 percent disabled, you do not have access to dental in the VA medical system,” he said. “So is there a way that we could draw down dollars from the federal government that would allow us to provide dental care to our veterans who leverage this system but who aren't 100 percent disabled?”