ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – On Tuesday, December 6, 2016, Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap filed paperwork with Orlando City Clerk’s Office to run for the coveted District 5 seat currently held by incumbent Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill.
Orlando native Dunlap, 34, was the first African American woman to be crowned Miss Florida and rose to national acclaim when she was crowned Miss America 2004. She was a contestant on season 15 of “The Amazing Race,” finishing third place, and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida (UCF).
She is also the founder of the Crown Jewel Foundation, an organization that invests in the lives of young women and encourages them to strive for excellence and overcome obstacles in achieving their goals. “I was born in District 5, and currently live here,” Dunlap told FNN News in an exclusive interview as to why she chose to run for the seat. “I’m concerned about where it’s going, and I want to preserve the quality of life of the people who live here.”
Former Miss Americas Turned Politicians
Dunlap is among several former Miss Americas who tossed their tiaras into the political ring. Miss America 1944 Venus Ramey was the first Miss America to run for public office, according to the Miss America Organization’s website. In addition, Miss America 2003 Erika Harold ran twice for Illinois’s 13th congressional district unsuccessfully.
Dunlap won the Miss America crown on a platform of “United We Stand, Divided We Fall Behind: Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion.”
Miss America 1944 Venus Ramey (left) and Miss America 2003 Erika Harold
Dunlap’s high profile and following could potentially bring national media attention to the Orlando City Commission election from the likes of Inside Edition, E!, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, and others, which will greatly benefit the Commission’s ambitious vision to increase Downtown Orlando’s imprint as the premier sports and entertainment destination for the U.S. In Mayor Buddy Dyer’s 2016 State of the Downtown Address, he detailed the Commission’s plans to create a sports corridor that will run from the Amway Center, to the soccer stadium, which will be completed early 2017, to Camping World Stadium. All of these venues are in District 5, which is what makes it such a highly contested seat, not to mention the prestigious Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center.
Dunlap speaks with FNN NEWS at 2017 Miss America Pageant
Dunlap has not slowed down. She made sure to support her “sisters” at the 2017 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City and was also present for the 2016 Florida Blue Florida Classic festivities at Camping World Stadium in November.
Dunlap spoke to FNN NEWS about the 2017 election
When FNN News asked Dunlap what her first project would be if elected, she provided an honest assessment, hearkening back to her Miss America experience. “I knew I would be good for Miss America, but had no idea what it really entailed until I was in it.” In the same way, she is currently “working on a variety of projects that will qualify me before I step into the [District 5 Commissioner role],” but she noted that she will not have a clear idea until she is in the role. She exclusively told FNN News that if elected, she will do everything that she can in the parameters of the role, and added the she knows “how to build teams of people to get things done efficiently.”
Districts 1, 3, and 5 seats are up for election in November 2017, and District 5 is currently the only seat contenders have filed to run for thus far. Candidates Jibreel R. Ali and Cynthia Harris also filed paperwork to run for the seat. Incumbent District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill has not filed at this early point to run for re-election in the November 2017 general election.
Written by Editor Mellissa Thomas and Publisher Willie David, who report on local, national, and international news for Florida National News.
Florida House Democratic Leader-Designate Fentrice Driskell Announces Leadership Team
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida House Democratic Leader-Designate Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) today announced the appointment of the following Democratic Representatives to serve on the House Democratic Caucus leadership team for the 2022-24 legislative term:
- Leader Pro Tempore: Representative Dotie Joseph (D-Miami);
- Policy Chair: Representative Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton);
- Floor Leader: Representative Michael “Mike” Gottlieb (D-Davie); and
- Whip: Representative Christine Hunschofsky (D-Parkland).
“The House Democratic Caucus is made up of some of the strongest, most fierce champions of the people in the entire state,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “It is an honor and great pleasure to work with these individuals in this new capacity, and all of them are prepared to lead the Caucus in the face of the challenges that lie ahead of us.”
As Leader Pro Tempore, Representative Joseph will assist the Democratic Leader in carrying out designated responsibilities and perform such Leadership responsibilities as are assigned, including stepping in for the Leader as needed.
“I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing Representative Joseph for over 20 years. From the time we were at Georgetown Law to now, she has always been a consistent champion for justice. The issues she advocates for on behalf of all Floridians makes Representative Joseph an invaluable asset in defending Floridians against extremist Republican policies,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “I look forward to Representative Joseph’s leadership as a key member of my team over the next two years.”
In her role as the Caucus Policy Chair, Representative Skidmore will be responsible for ensuring the Caucus continues to champion legislation that positively impacts all Floridians, and will lead discussions about bills before the House at Caucus meetings.
“As the previous Policy Chair for the Caucus, I know what is needed to do this job. Appointing Representative Skidmore as Policy Chair was an easy choice,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “She stood out as a prime member in understanding policy during the last legislative term. Representative Skidmore also brings with her a wealth of experience as both a former House and Senate staffer and House member. Applying her unique skillset to this new role will benefit the Caucus and all Floridians.”
In his role as Floor Leader, Representative Gottlieb will be responsible in interpreting the House Rules, ensuring the Caucus adheres to the agreed upon rules, and working with his Republican counterpart in advocating for fair amounts of time be allotted to the Caucus in debating different pieces of legislation.
“Two things I greatly appreciate about Representative Gottlieb are his refreshing candor and strong fortitude,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “As the minority party in the Legislature, we’re aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us. What we need right now is someone who is unwavering under extreme pressure to help guide our Caucus during difficult moments. Representative Gottlieb is perfectly suited for this role.”
As Whip, Representative Hunschofsky will be responsible for keeping all Democratic Caucus members apprised of Caucus policy on any bills or issues before the House.
“Representative Hunschofsky has an amazing ability to get things done,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “Not only does Representative Hunschofsky possess a wealth of knowledge due to her experience as the former mayor of Parkland, Florida, she is also a champion of many initiatives close to Floridians’ hearts, such as expanding access to quality mental health care. I know Representative Hunschofsky’s knowledge and ability will help prepare our Caucus for the challenges of the next two year.”
The Florida House Democratic Caucus will convene during Organizational Session taking place Nov. 21-22, 2022 in advance of the 2023 Legislative Session scheduled to begin on March 7, 2023.
VIDEO: State Rep. Dianne Hart elected chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – State Representative Dianne Hart (D-Tampa), incoming Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, talks briefly with Florida National News on the importance of the Florida Blue Florida Classic at Camping World Stadium in Orlando Saturday. The Florida Classic is an annual college football rivalry game between Bethune–Cookman University and Florida A&M University.
Hart’s Twitter Statement:
Hart’s statement: “I’m honored to have been elected as the Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus.” “I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support and for trusting me to move this important caucus forward.”
During the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions, Rep. Hart served on the following House committees, including Democratic Ranking Member of the Infrastructure and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee, Judiciary Committee, Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight, Ways & Means Committee, Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee, State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee and Select Subcommittee on Authorized Gaming Activity.
Hart was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2018. She is also the CEO of the East Tampa Business and Civic Association.
Former State Rep. Bruce Antone Ready To Rejoin Florida House
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Former Florida State Representative Bruce Antone served 12 years (six terms) in the Florida House of Representatives and defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Travaris McCurdy during the August primary election to represent Orange County in the newly draw District 41 House seat.
Antone was among eleven candidates seeking election to county, state and Congressional seats participating in a candidate forum hosted by CFABJ, NAACP and the Florida Voters League, Wednesday, October 19, 2022.
Green Party nominee Robin Denise Harris is the only potential road block in Antone’s return to Tallahassee and faces off with him in the November general election. The District 41 House seat has an overwhelmingly Democratic voter base.
During his time in the Florida House, Antone was elected by his colleagues to serve as the Chairman of the 29-member Florida Legislative Black Caucus.
The general election is Tuesday, November 8, 2022.
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