Allen Ellison, Democratic Nominee for Florida’s 17th U.S. Congressional District, made an impressive showing on November 6th to Greg Steube, an experienced and well known candidate who has served three terms in the Florida House. The youthful political newcomer, Ellison, won an impressive 37.7% of the vote with 62.3 % for Steube. This was a remarkable showing for Ellison, considering that his name was not even placed on the ballot as April Freeman, candidate for this Congressional seat died unexpectedly on September 23, 2018, and Ellison beat out several contenders as the replacement candidate.
It was no small task for Ellison who had only six weeks to run a campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in the largest congressional district in Florida that covers the nine sprawling counties of Lee, Sarasota, Polk, Charlotte, De Soto, Okeechobee, Highlands, Glades and Hardee. Ellison spoke to groups throughout the district that is as much rural as urban, meeting with ranchers and growers concerned with threats from the citrus greening disease that imperils this vital industry. He connected with many of the 1.4 million residents of the district’s suburban communities, including Punta Gorda, Sebring and Bartow, when he spoke about protecting health insurance and finding solutions to environmental degradation.
Ellison told voters that there is a much better way to get things done in Congress than the partisan wangling and ideological divide that has paralyzed Washington. Ellison told voters he wanted to focus on specific issues that are important to Florida residents that he believes both political parties can support. This includes making sure healthcare remains in place at affordable rates for all families, especially those with pre-existing conditions. He told seniors he would work to protect them from any cuts in Social Security, Medicare and keep Medicaid strong. Ellison promised that he would fight against any attempts to take away disability benefits from the 40 million Americans who suffer disabling illnesses, many from birth. Allen met with our military Veterans, the patriotic men and women who served valiantly to keep us safe, who Allen said deserve the very best in health care and benefits. Allen criticised the Veterans Administration, that now takes 200 days to process disability claims for injured vets and he promised to work to streamline the the cumbersome bureaucracy to deliver the very best care in a timely fashion.
Allen Ellison was born in Highlands County and raised in Hardee County. His father is a pastor and mother, a special needs instructor. As a young man, Allen worked on central Florida’s citrus groves and cattle ranches. He graduated Florida Southern College in Lakeland in 2007, majoring in political science. Allen recognizes the importance of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service and the USDA to continue research in plant diseases, especially citrus greening as well as helping to market our state’s crops. Allen met with farmers in other states to identify other food crops that would suit Florida’s climate and soils if the citrus industry declines from the disease.
Like all Floridians, Allen is alarmed at the rapid decline of our beautiful lakes and waterways, especially Lake Okeechobee, overrun with algae from phosphorous run off that contributes to Red Tide on both the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. Allen promised to fight for federal money to pay for a program to restore Okeechobee’s natural flow and reduce Red Tide. During the campaign he refused contributions from the powerful sugar lobby that for too long has impeded restoration of what naturalist, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas described as a “River of Grass,” the most unique ecological system in the world. Major Florida environmental groups endorsed Ellison.
Allen Ellison, our own native son of Central Florida, understands our needs and concerns. Central Florida’s cities and farms deserve an effective and practical approach in Washington and Allen Ellison is the one to watch in 2020.