ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Politics is rife with promises of change and benefits that tickle the ears of an elected official’s or political candidate’s base, depending on his or her political affiliation, but what happens when a political neophyte runs as an independent…and wins, making history as a result? Tiffany Dziekan, newly elected Orange Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor (Seat 5), was sworn in January 3, 2017 and came into office with certain…idealistic expectations. With the first quarter of the year under her belt, Supervisor Dziekan shared with FNN News the reality she is experiencing so far.
Born in San Diego, California and daughter of a U.S. Navy sailor father, Supervisor Dziekan made history as the first independent candidate–who just happens to be African American–to run for Orange Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor and be elected. As it turns out, she was well positioned for it to happen. During her campaign, “People would always ask me what my political affiliation was, and I always told them I’m a third party member,” she told FNN News in a recent phone interview. “People are more comfortable with a third party candidate for an environmental position [than a political one].” She added that she agrees with aspects of both parties, but has her own ideas.
WHAT GOT HER STARTED
Dziekan admitted that she was originally, like many Americans, not engaged in the political process. That changed for her in 2012. When she began to hear about lawmakers who “knew nothing about the law” because their bills and laws were being struck down for being “unconstitutional,” she was compelled to go to law school as well as thoroughly research politicians’ backgrounds to learn more.
Now the single mother of four is learning firsthand how they tick.
She shared with FNN News that the most pressing issue in her district is real estate development encroaching on wildlife habitats. “You have to look at the big picture,” she said. “Development’s good, but not too much development.”
The other, more overarching goal is community outreach. One of her ideas is to conduct an informal poll of the community to learn what constituents expect of their Soil & Water Conservation Board and how best to serve them, using Board funding. Additionally, she is working with elementary schools to inform children of what the Board does, and wants to teaching the community about working with fertilizer.
A related issue, which the Board is currently working on, is streamlining and updating its resources, like its website and record keeping, making it more accessible to the public with a clearer message. “[We need to have] more frequent events so that people know what the Soil & Water Conservation Board is and what we do, who they are. The Board’s profile has been so low for so long.” She added that part of her vision is for the Board to have more influence with City and County Councils to create collaborative solutions for the community.
And she wants to accomplish all this in her first year.
THE TRUTH ABOUT POLITICS AND GETTING THINGS DONE
“There are a lot of personality differences,” she observed, chuckling. She added that politics appears to be more about building alliances or crassly trying to get your way. “I’m starting to see why things don’t get done quickly or at all in government.”
This complicated landscape has forced her to ask herself how she plans to get her ideas accomplished–which are many–but despite the present challenges, she is still optimistic. “Everyone has a lot of things on their plate but if we get together and focus, we can get things done.”