WINK News moderates virtual debate for SWFL congressional candidates

Reporter: Morgan Rynor Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

As Campaign Central in Southwest Florida, we hosted a virtual debate with eight candidates running for the U.S. House seat representing Florida’s 19th Congressional District Monday.

The candidate who wins would assume the seat U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney plans to step down from upon the end of his term.

During the debated we moderated over Zoom, all the candidates agreed we need to reopen the economy immediately. They have trust in people to do the right thing and continue social distancing practices or staying home if at risk. But they had different approaches on how they would reopen the economy.

WATCH the full debate and the candidates’ responses in the video below.

How do we reopen and move forward?

“I think the first step we take in getting back to work is actually going back to the previous orders,” Byron Donalds said. “These were the orders when restaurants were at 50 percent capacity, when you didn’t have this shut down of non-essential businesses.”

“President Trump’s team, they are focused on medical,” Dan Severson said. “They are not focused on the economy, so what we need to do is do as they laid out, but we need to be aggressive about it.”

“We go area by area,” Darren Aquino said. “There are medical evidences there. We use the evidence. If that area is free of it, we shouldn’t be restricted by it.”

“Most recently, I was advocating for reopening elective surgeries because a lot of people have been putting off important procedures,” Heather Fitzenhagen said.

“We needed to have opened up a week ago, quite frankly,” Christy McLaughlin said. “I have had several rallies online.”

“Small businesses have a right to get back to work,” Dr. William Figlesthaler said. “And with social distancing, with hand washing and with common sense, we need to get back to work, absolutely.”

“We’ve got to open as soon as possible,” said Mayor Randy Henderson of Fort Myers. “We got to open as safely as possible. I’ve overseen the economic revival of our city just prior to our [coronavirus] outbreak.”

“I think we need to stop delaying the inevitable and get back to work immediately,” said Majority Leader Dane Eagle of the Florida House. “It’s time to stop this shutdown, this government-mandated shutdown and allow people to get back to work.”

Cost of Care

Getting slapped with pricey medical bills is all too common. That’s why it’s a top voting issue for people across the country. The common theme – transparency in health care. Watch the snippets of the answers each candidate gave on the topic above.

Southwest Florida Environment

From the blue-green algae crisis of 2018, to red tide outbreaks and Lake Okeechobee concerns, Southwest Floridians are passionate about water quality. Water is the lifeblood of Southwest Florida and its economy.

We asked each candidate what they would do in Washington. Watch snippets form the answers each candidate gave on the topic above.

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