LaVon Bracy Davis

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Democratic candidate, Florida House District 40

Public Service

Never held elective office. Legislative appointee to the Florida Council on Arts and Culture

Occupation

Senior Director of Community Programming at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Education

  • Howard University, BFA, Acting, 2001

  • Florida A&M University, College of Law, J.D., 2005

Religion

Baptist

If the name LaVon Bracy Davis sounds familiar, it’s because her family name is synonymous with community activism and leadership.

Her mother, LaVon Wright Bracy, is a civil rights trailblazer, being the first African-American to graduate from Gainesville High School in 1965 as well as a three-time delegate to the National Democratic Convention. Her father, Randolph Bracy, Jr., is the founding pastor of New Covenant Baptist Church of Orlando and past president of the Orange County Branch of the NAACP. And her brother, state Sen. Randolph Bracy, has been a Florida legislator for the last decade, representing Ocoee and surrounding areas.


Now, Bracy Davis is seeking the Democratic nod in the Aug. 23 primary for the open seat in state House District 40 that includes Ocoee, Pine Hills, Clarcona and College Park. She will face off against Melissa Myers. Neither have held elective office.

Her campaign website lists her positions around economic development (job creation, employment and business development); education (arts accessibility, teacher pay and resources); and equity (voting rights, affordable healthcare, criminal justice reform, veterans resources, environmental justice and women’s rights), but provides no detail.

However, in a recent WESH-2 News debate with Myers, Bracy Davis elaborated her positions. On the state’s new 15-week abortion ban that is being challenged in the courts, Bracy Davis was unequivocal in her support for abortion rights. “Elected officials don’t have any business in my body. It’s none of their business. And what I do with my body as a woman should not be legislated, should not be discussed in courtrooms, it should be between me and my doctor,” she said, adding the new state law should be repealed.


Bracy Davis would also support expanding Medicaid as well as strengthen current gun laws to prevent violence and support new ones to remove assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. “I absolutely would,” she said.


Regarding several new Florida laws — such as the “Stop WOKE Act,” which addresses how schools and businesses address race and gender, and the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans classroom disucssion of sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3 — Bracy Davis, who called Gov. Ron DeSantis’ agenda “somewhat racist,” said that the marginalized Black, Brown and LGBTQ communities must be supported. She also said teaching Black history may be uncomfortable for some people, “but it’s time we get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”


When asked how, if elected, she could accomplish anything as a Democrat in a Republican-dominated legislature, Bracy Davis said working across the aisle is “imperative” and she could do that, citing her brother’s bipartisan work in the state House and Senate.

Her top priority, if elected, would be to introduce legislation that would address economic disparity in Florida, including the affordable housing crisis. In that vein, she would incentivize contractors and builders to build more affordable housing as well as work with landlords to address rising rents. She would also prevent further raiding of the Sadowski Fund, established in 1992 to provide a dedicated annual revenue for affordable housing projects across the state. Twenty years ago, the legislature started raiding the fund for other non-housing related projects.


To address the high poverty rate in Orange County, she said she would support incentives to attract companies into the district to provide high-paying salaries, which could also address affordable housing.


Bracy Davis cited her work as senior director of community programming at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, as well as a legislative appointee to the Florida Council on Arts and Culture as examples of what distinguishes her from Myers. She’s not just a longtime community leader, she said, but, In those positions, she’s demonstrated her ability to bring money into communities and work on the state level. She previously worked as senior attorney for the state Department of Children and Families.

During the debate, Myers claimed that Bracy Davis has accepted donations from political action committees, special interest groups and lobbyists that also supported DeSantis and other Republican candidates. “Whose side are you really on? What promises did you make to get these donations?” asked Myers. “Because, normally, when you receive a donation from a campaign that’s a handshake to say you’re on the same page.”

Bracy Davis said she didn’t know what Myers was referring to, but said more than 200 people from the community have donated $10 to $40 each to her “people’s campaign.” “I cannot be bought. My positions are firm. This community knows me. They know what I can do.”

Bracy Davis has received endorsements from Democratic state House Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Anna V. Eskamani. She also received endorsements from Ruth’s List, which backs pro-choice Democratic women, and the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association’s Political Action Committee and Political Committee.

— Dibya Sarkar