Our Issues

These are the issues Connell Crooms fights for

Disability Rights/Language Accessibility

As a person with a disability himself Connell Crooms has long fought to expand Disability Rights and language equity in the workplace and public spaces. Democracy only works when everyone can participate in it, which is why upon seating in the House Crooms will work to file legislation that expands Medicaid/Medicare in the State of Florida and strengthen ADA compliance by creating a State certification process for interpreters. Crooms will also propose that the State of Florida adopt “Lead-K” legislation that focuses on language equality and acquisition for deaf and hard of hearing children in early education so that they may have a fair opportunity to succeed alongside their hearing peers and the workplace upon graduation. In addition we will also amend the Hate Crimes Bill to also include expanded protections for disabilities and gender identity.

 

Rent Control

Over 40% of Jacksonville’s residents live below the poverty line. That is a horrible thing to have to say and read about. But when housing costs are rising faster than income rates and working families are spending more than half of their paychecks on rent and mortgages, we create conditions for homelessness and shelter insecurity. According to Harvard researchers more than half of renters spend 30 percent or more on rent compared with 20 percent in 1960. Housing is an essential part of human survival and everyone should have an opportunity to participate in the experience of owning their own home. It is past time for Rent Control legislation that puts a cap on rent, bans fees that penalize poor people, expands public housing access, and bans ICE raids.

 

Workplace Democracy

As a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Connell has a unique understanding of the difficulties that working people face everyday. Unions have been under attack for decades and public officials have been bought out by billionaires and their corporate donors. We must put power back into the hands of workers because they are the ones who clock in everyday to feed their families while earning less than they deserve. When elected Connell Crooms will wage a long struggle to not only Raise the Minimum Wage in Florida to $15 but also repeal Florida’s Right to Work(for less) laws. An old archaic law that hinders public employees like teachers and bus drivers from fighting for higher pay and better contracts but also keeps wages low in Florida for everyone. We must organize more workers into unions when the government fails but we also must expand the rights of every worker to a job that respects them and their contributions to society. We will also sponsor and advocate for the Florida Competitve Workforce Act(FCWA) that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in education, public housing, and employment.

 

Criminal Justice Reform

For over 400 years Black Americans have been subjected to systemic oppression and marginalization and that storyline continues today in Florida 55 years after Jim Crow ended. In 2018 64% of voters voted YES on Amendment 4 restoring the right to vote to people who have served their time. Since its passage though we have seen Governor Ron DeSantis fight to preserve an oppressive system that disenfranchises voters from participating in democracy. Not only do we need to fight in the Florida State House to restore the rights of returning citizens without obstacles, we also must pass Ban the Box Act. When we win we will file legislation that recognizes the historical record of criminalization and marginalization of Black Americans that gives them a fair opportunity to a job. Over 30% of Jacksonville’s residents are African Americans-with more black people than our sister cities like Miami and Tampa we should especially be leading this fight for decriminalization and inclusion. Not only should we be advocating for a ban on private prisons in the state of Florida we should also legalize marijauna and redirect the State’s budget for more criminal justice reforms, literacy freedoms, and recidivism.

 

Worker Co-Ops

In an era of rampant income inequality where just 26 billionaires can own about as much wealth as half the world’s population and in America the richest 10% hold nearly 200 times more income than the bottom 90% of American households combined. CEO’s are on average making 400 times their lowest paid employees. Inequality has reached its highest levels in 50 years and with a booming Florida economy at the expense of taxpayers and workers we will have to get creative in how we are creating jobs and training displaced workers in a new and rapidly changing economy. We will create more worker cooperatives that close the gap in hiring disparities among marginalized groups while also serving a community good by addressing issues like food desserts. We will also work to expand access to STEM education and employment in poor communities where students will enter into labor apprenticeships and businesses that will be better servants to their communities as we begin the work of transforming Jacksonville’s Northside to becoming the model for upward mobility and uplifting of people from poverty.

 

Mass Incarceration

Jacksonville holds a bad rap for our gun violence and criminalization of communities of color. We saw the issue of Freedom of Speech and surveillance in 2017, a national spotlight in our struggles with gun violence especially in communities of color, and over 50 murders since the beginning of January and an increase in jailings of black women and men. We will invest in education and fight back against the school-to-prison pipeline with community programs that will promote and service the needs of at-risk students. One major way we can take further steps to Criminal Justice Reform is by decriminalizing sex work. The string of recent police raids in gentlemen’s clubs brings up an important question of women’s rights to a healthy and safe workplace. We must recognize that the government’s raids on these establishments further criminalizes society’s oldest profession and furthers the cycle of criminalization and disenfranchisement, not to mention untold systemic assault on women’s bodies with abortion bans and penalties.

 

Community Control of The Police

Over the last decade we have seen Jacksonville struggle with reigning in crime. Under the leadership of Sheriff Mike Williams and establishment officials we as taxpayers have given the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office more than 30 cents per dollar to target black communities. The police are servants to the public and that too includes minority communities who have no power an independent investigation when they are victims of police violence. Recently the city has been rocked by a wave of gun violence since the start of 2020 and police shootings are no different. FAMU student Jamee Johnson was recently pulled over for a seat belt violation that resulted in his death. Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is refusing to release any body camera footage or give an incident report to what exactly happened that fateful evening. These are just some of the few reasons why we are proposing an all Elected Citizens Review Board with the power to hire and fire, amend policies, and foster healthier community relations between the police and the public. Repealing the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights is crucial to our criminal justice reform efforts because we recognize that we cannot arrest our way out of poverty and that people deserve accountability to the power that law enforcement officers hold to impact negatively on the lives they are sworn to protect.

 

Education

This campaign stands entirely on the side of students and teachers who will be most impacted by endorsed bills by the incumbent such as the J-1 Bill which seeks to take away community control of education to the benefit of charter school profiteers. And by last count-according to the Florida Times Union local city leaders seek a per pupil basis for maintenance funding needs of our schools. This would amount to a giant swindle of public education dollars for private charter schools. Jacksonville’s students deserve well maintained schools, smaller class sizes, and an education without religious interference.

Teachers in Florida are some of the lowest paid in the nation. Many teachers tell the story of how they often have to use their own money on their classroom needs to ensure their students are getting the education they deserve. Teachers are also paying some of the highest fees for licensing and certifications that; coupled with the low pay and out of pocket expenses creates massive shortages of teachers in Florida. To build the most brilliant and confident generations of tomorrow we have to begin investing in our teachers and ensure that every child has the best educational environment that they can get.

 

Healthcare

With healthcare being a big issue of debate for many Americans it brings into question our values and how we care not just for ourselves, family and friends, but also our neighbors. From the moment we are born to the moment we die we all will participate in the healthcare marketplace, and a healthy society is a productive society. Connell Crooms believes and supports federal progressive legislative proposals such as Medicare-for-ALL and would fight for universal healthcare in the Florida State House and the expansion of Medicaid/Medicare. More than 60% of bankruptcies in America are because of medical debt and Florida has some of the highest medical debt and uninsured rates in the country. When so many Jacksonville residents are poor and working three jobs to get by they are often faced with the reality of having to choose between paying their rent or falling behind on their medical debt. By finally making corporations pay their fair share and investing in community health centers will we ensure that every person has a right to unfettered universal healthcare access.