HD6 Candidate Survey: Brian Clowdus
Two Republican candidates are running to represent Bay County in the Florida House.
The GOP primary election for House District 6 is open to all of the county's voters, regardless of party affiliation, because the only two candidates running for the seat are from the same party: political newcomer Brian Clowdus and County Commissioner Griff Griffitts.
The candidate who wins the Aug. 23rd primary election will represent the county in the state House.
Early voting began on Wednesday and runs through Saturday, Aug. 20. Voters may cast a ballot in-person at any of the county's eight early voting sites between 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
WFSU Public Media sent a list of questions to both candidates. Griffitts didn't respond to three requests to complete the survey.
Clowdus' responses to the questionnaire have been edited for clarity and accuracy.
What do you see as the top issues facing state House District 6 and how would you address them?
After having knocked on 18,000 doors over the past 15 months in every area in Bay County, I have listened to what is most important to the people. Unfortunately, a lot of folks feel they are not valued because transparency, communication and accessibility are not priorities of our elected public servants. It is my top goal once elected to be 100% honest and transparent with every move I make, ensuring that all my decisions are routed in the voice of the residents of Bay County. As during my campaign, I will prioritize communication (every call & email returned & meeting with anyone who would like face time.)
Accessibility goes beyond just returning calls and emails, it means going out in the community and being on people’s door steps, at local events AND bringing back town halls at times where people can be at them ensuring that their voices are heard.
We need to put residents and the environment as our priorities and they should never take a back seat to tourism and development. Affordability needs to [be] addressed. Lots of people can no longer afford their mortgage, rent, property insurance and electrical [sic] bills. We need to stop protecting the big guys and major developers and start advocating for the people.
How should state lawmakers address the issue of gun violence?
We need to tackle the route of this which is mental health. We need to invest dollars in making our school systems just as safe as the buildings that house our politicians. Why are our children not valued just as much? We must make our schools safer. We also need to invest into school counselors and free them up to do their jobs of counseling.
Would you support legislation allowing Floridians to openly carry a firearm without a permit, also known as “constitutional carry”? Why or why not?
Yes. I support constitutional carry. Statistically states that have adopted constitutional carry see a dramatic drop in crime. Criminals will always find a way to break the law. They will find any way to harm people when they are motivated to do so. Again, we need to tackle mental health.
What should lawmakers do about abortion access? Please explain your position.
I am pro-life, but we must, must, must make adoption easier and more widespread. With the heartbeat bill there will be children that are not wanted by their moms so where do those children go? If we are going to save the unborn (which I think should be a priority) we need to make adoption very accessible and a viable option for parents who want to give these children a loving home.
What should lawmakers do to make housing more affordable?
Affordable housing is also a top concern for Bay County (and an issue that a lot of Floridians are facing). Big developers are focused more on luxury high rises than anything it seems these days. How about we provide amazing incentives and less red tape to builders that are committed to building and renting out housing that is affordable to everyone? Let’s give them tax breaks and incentivize them investing into our community so that we can retain our residents. Teachers, first responders, nurses, restaurant employees (among others) barely can make ends meet with their salaries and can’t afford to live here much longer. We must make affordably [sic] a top priority. I would also advocate for increased funding for teacher, first responder and front line medical employee salaries (ex: nurses, EMTs).
What more would you do on the issue of property insurance?
Another issue I hear about a lot from residents. The big problem is that most legislators accept an exorbitant amount of money from insurance lobby firms. What if that money was used to invest in the people and in decreasing rises [in] insurance rates? I think the lobby machine in Tallahassee is at the root of so many issues.
How can legislators advocate for the people in an unbiased manor when they are lining their pockets with insurance lobby money? The major parent insurance firms don’t seem open to salary cuts from their multi-million-dollar CEO salaries. They should. These large firms also are charging large fees that can be in excess of 30% to the insurer. We need more regulation on this fee structure and specifically addressing the black hole between insurers and their affiliates.
Over the past 20 years, Florida has increased options for students, some choice advocates see vouchers for all as the end goal. Where do you stand on school choice?
I am 100% in favor of school choice. We need to empower parents to make the choice that is best for them and their children. I am in favor of school vouchers as well, 100%.
What are some of your top energy, environmental and agricultural concerns and how do you define that?
In Bay County, the environment takes a back seat to big developers. There are major flooding issues all across our community and certain rural areas have been completely forgotten. I have visited homes that have sand bags lining their perimeters and they have just accepted this is how they must live. I am here to tell you that this is not ok.
Hurricane Michael had a devastating impact on our community loosing [sic] tons of forestry. This paired with lack of infrastructure (and outdated infrastructure) basically gives storm water outfall no place to go. We now are proposing building pipelines that will pump this water into the Gulf of Mexico which could potentially have a major impact on our overall ecosystem.
We need to slow down development, be strategic, invest in re-developing areas that already have a footprint and place our environment, along with residents’ quality of life as a top priority. We also need to embrace our local farmers and create more opportunism [sic] for small businesses to flourish. Florida has incredible cottage laws. You can make up to $250,000 untaxed. Let’s promote this and create our next generation of farmers and local artisans!
What should voters know about you that they don’t already?
I am running for office because I firmly believe we need new blood in politics and I have a burning desire in my heart to serve. We need new voices and new perspectives, people who are not career politicians or born into politics. I have never run for office; my family has never run for office and I am not looking to tell people what to do I am looking to serve my community and state. I am here to be a public servant and I am here to learn!
What’s your favorite book? And why? What are you currently reading?
Lord, I know this is gonna come across as potentially cheesy, but The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum is my all-time favorite piece of literature. From a very early age, I used my imagination and the idea that when you need to, you can escape and dream BUT at the end of the day everything you need to be happy is around you and figuring out how to [be] happy in the present moment and at home is the secret to living a fulfilled and happy life.
Current book I am reading (and it’s taking a while since there is little free time in the final stretch of the campaign) is The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson. I know that title is shocking, but this book is incredible and gets to the route of not letting others get in the way of being happy. We cannot control the actions of others, but we can control the way we react to them. The most incredible gift in life is truly getting past caring what others think of you… then you are free to truly live!