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Meet Harrison

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In this climate, we have to be fearless.

 

I had to be fearless as I was arrested for defending the right to bodily autonomy; fearless when I was assaulted by far-right extremists; fearless when I spent day after stressful day in Tallahassee lobbying our government to do the right thing.

 

Every time that I see millions of dollars pumped into culture wars, I think about the families, the disability programs, and the infrastructure that suffer from lack of funding. When I watch politicians center their policy around their reelections, I imagine the families who are behind on their rent or insurance payments, while their legislator turns their back on them.

 

But I’m grounded by the image of the Florida I want to leave behind. That’s why I organize. That’s why I educate, and why I believe change can happen. Things may be stacked against us, but I’ve overcome daunting obstacles before — and this time, I’m not doing it for myself, but for our neighborhoods and for all Floridians. A better Florida is possible.

My Roots

I was born in Encinitas, California, where I was immediately put into the foster care system and was fortunate enough to be adopted by the first parents who took me in. I was born with Cerebral Palsy, and my condition rendered my legs unusable and in constant pain, but I was fortunate enough to have access to therapy as a toddler. My family and I moved to Texas when I was still very young, and then we moved to Florida a few years later when my family was prepared to retire in Riverview. We purchased a house in a newly developing neighborhood, across the street from a local farm. 

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None of us could’ve predicted that years later, we’d be navigating an onslaught of real estate developments, commute times that nearly tripled, and the feeling that we may suddenly not have enough money to make payments.

I never thought I’d run for office. My household was always a political one, yet the opportunity to run for public office always seemed out of reach for me. But when I started organizing, it felt natural; it felt like I had always been doing this. I spend my time educating people about local issues, local candidates, and local solutions. And after seeing, in recent years, the onslaught of attacks on Florida families like mine, I decided in 2023 that it was my time to run.

ORGANIZING WORK

Raised in a family of disabled veterans and former union members, I was always affected by politics to some extent. As a family, we would talk about what we saw in-person or on the news; so many of our conversations ended up discussing how many of us felt we were given the short end of the stick when it came to government assistance on both state and national levels. 

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Like a lot of young organizers, my politics went from being aware to being activated in 2020, during the Black-led antiracism movement following the murder of George Floyd. Even though I knew injustice existed that affected myself and others, I also knew there was more I needed to do to fight violence in all forms in my community.

Following 2020, I started educating myself on local and national issues by attending protests and rallies — working with organizations like Dream Defenders to register young voters and pass that education onto others. Following a desire to organize my workplace, I partnered with Central Labor Council and Working Families Lobby Corps in 2022 to speak with state legislators about the attacks on labor in our state. The anti-union legislation died that year, but several troublesome laws still passed, most notably the the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the 15-week ban on abortion access. 

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In response, I dug deeper into on-the-ground organizing. I worked as a field organizer on a number of election campaigns, including Richie Floyd for St. Petersburg City Council, Lynn Hurtak for Tampa City Council, and Janet Varnell Warwick for HD61. I got to talk to voters and lead phone banks across Tampa Bay to engage voters by discussing different issues affecting our communities. Even if we disagreed on some issues at the door, we mutually understood the urgency of issues like our climate crisis, infrastructure, and healthcare access.

ACTIVISM WORK

Over the last few years, I’ve worked with groups from all points on the political spectrum that fight for Florida families. I’m proud to have worked with youth-powered organizations to enact change for Tampa Bay. We brought attention to inefficient infrastructure practices in Hillsborough County; we put pressure on the City of Tampa to address racial and economic disparities in their housing and law enforcement; we stood in solidarity with workers from across the state advocating for equal representation and fighting to unionize. Most importantly, we took action and got results.

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During the 2023 legislative session, I joined Women’s Voices of Southwest Florida as their Public Policy Director, where I researched legislation to inform and advise the organization on what actions we needed to take. I talked to legislators from both Democratic and Republican backgrounds to advocate for bills like HB39/HB783, which hugely expands narcan access in public colleges and universities to address Florida’s opioid overdose crisis. We fought for months against the passage of HB7, which further restricted the ban on abortion access from 15 weeks to only 6 weeks. I worked with Planned Parenthood as a lobbyist to talk to representatives about the effects this bill has on Floridians.

When HB7 passed, I helped organize OccupyTally, an occupation protest that comprised activists from across the state & political spectrum, all of whom were in opposition to restricting reproductive healthcare. In a peaceful protest, I was arrested alongside State Sen. Lauren Book and Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried, and have since been a loud and strong advocate for other arrested protestors, appearing at events to support the Tampa 5 at USF. Occupy Tally has since expanded to all parts of Florida, to form Occupy Florida. 

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Currently, I am part of the ballot initiative led by Floridians Protecting Freedom. Along with the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Florida Rising and Women’s Voices of SWFL, we are unifying Floridians around one message: opposition to government overreach into personal medical decisions. An overwhelming majority of Floridians, from both sides of the aisle, support protecting patients’ rights.

BELIEVING IN A BETTER FLORIDA

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Running for office is never an easy decision. As a Gen-Z organizer, it’s much harder. The current fiscal and political landscape makes it hard for young people and workers to run, but when I think of my age, my color and my identity, I never feel limited — I feel empowered. These things never happen without community, and despite the path laid out for us, I feel empowered enough to run. Despite what Florida leadership might say about folks running, it’s more than how much money you have, where you went to school, or how old you are. Instead, it’s about your commitment to serving the people you represent, your passion for justice, and your endurance in the fight for equality for all.

 

I’m running on more than just power and more than just party; I’m running for the people. Full stop. It’s time to put the power — and freedom — back in the hands of Floridians. The freedom to pay for a place to live, a doctor to visit or clean air to breathe shouldn’t be one person’s decision. We have the power to transcend party politics and give Floridians the freedom to believe in a better Florida.

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