Strawberry Crest Teacher Runs for State Senate

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Right now, the 2020 presidential election dominates the news cycle. However, we don’t hear as much about the other candidates and issues on the ballot. In addition to voting for a presidential candidate, Floridians will be voting for a federal Senator, federal representatives, state senators, state representatives, local officials, and amendments to the state constitution. Many students attending Strawberry Crest will vote in the 2020 election, and they will hopefully- along with other voters- inform themselves on the people and issues they will vote on. One candidate who might be on your ballot next year currently works as a teacher at Strawberry Crest High School.

 Amanda Linton teaches English as a second language at Strawberry Crest high school and decided to run for Florida’s 21st Senate District last spring as the Democratic nominee. Before running she said that she felt extremely disappointed with the current state of politics and eventually decided “if I’m going to be upset, I’m going to do something about it.” Linton cited Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ana Eskamani from Orlando as two of her inspirations for running for state Senate. In particular, she admired their humble roots and their openness, as well as Ocasio-Cortez’s ability to mobilize ground support in her campaign. 

At the time of the interview, Linton already crossed the threshold of 50 individual donors while her opponent, Jim Boyd, only had donations from 26 sources- 15 of which were PACs. However, Boyd was able to raise more total money at the time. While Ms. Linton believes her opponents will use money to their advantage in the election, she hopes to gather enough public support to counteract the greater funding of her opponent’s campaign. In Linton’s words, “we have more power in people than money, and that’s where our politics should be.” If elected, she hopes to change the perception of politicians in office as unreachable, observing that “candidates and politicians are literally people… (but) when they’re put up on a pedestal they don’t seem like a person that you can just walk up to and shake hands with and introduce yourself to.”  “We should be able to go to their office and see them,” she said. “We should be able to walk up and introduce ourselves.”

Amanda Linton’s campaign focuses strongly on public education. As a teacher, reforming the state’s education system is her top priority. She believes that politicians do not fully understand teachers’ and students’ circumstances, and often make poor decisions based on this lack of information. For example, she opposes recent state efforts to ‘reduce testing’ by only allowing state tests to be taken within a shorter time frame. In her eyes, this only adds more stress on teachers and students since the number of tests is not reduced, but only the duration of the testing period. She also opposes charter schools (privately run schools that receive funding exclusively from the government), stating that they are “sending kickbacks to people that are making (sic) these laws and putting these laws in place to dismantle public education because there’s no profit in public education” and “taking funds from public schools” During her campaign, Linton hopes to better educate community members about the nature of charter schools, believing that many people only see charter schools as an alternative to normal schools. In addition, environmental protection, women’s rights, and immigration will be core issues of her campaign.

Even in the early stages of her campaign, Ms. Linton knows that she will face several challenges, but remains optimistic in overcoming them. State District 21 leans Republican by a significant margin and some may believe it unrealistic that a Democratic candidate could win there. However, Ms. Linton feels “super optimistic” about electoral victory, pointing out “obviously I wouldn’t have started this if I didn’t want to win.” She plans to use the issue of public education to unite Democrats, non-partisans, and some Republicans to vote for her in the 2020 election. But even if she does not win the senate seat, Linton would not feel defeated, saying that “success doesn’t necessarily have to look like winning in November (2020).” She clarified that “being successful also looks like better organizing our community (and) building a movement together (as) we are drawing people out who may not have been politically engaged before because they have a candidate they can believe in.”