Anna Eskamani

Anna Vishkaee Eskamani (born May 20, 1990) is an American politician who is the member of the Florida House of Representatives from the 47th district in Orange County. She is the first Iranian American in the Florida legislature. A Democrat, she is pro-choice and pro-union, she supports gun control legislation, public education, and environmental regulations such as a ban on plastic bags. She has worked for Planned Parenthood.

Anna Eskamani
Anna Eskamani.jpg
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 47th district
Assumed office
November 6, 2018
Preceded byMike Miller
Personal details
Born (1990-05-20) May 20, 1990 (age 31)
Orlando, Florida, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of Central Florida (BA, MA, MPA)

Early life and educationEdit

Eskamani was born in Orlando, Florida, to parents who immigrated to the United States from Iran.[1] Eskamani has an older brother Arya and a twin sister Ida.[2] In 2004, Eskamani's mother died of colon cancer.[1]

Eskamani attended University High School in Orlando, Florida, from 2004 to 2008, where she participated in after school technical theater and graduated in 2008. She received two bachelor's degrees in 2012 and two master's degrees in 2015 from the University of Central Florida (UCF).[3] She also earned two certificates and taught at UCF as an adjunct professor. She is pursuing a PhD at UCF in public affairs.[4]

In 2020 she was selected by the University of Central Florida (UCF) as a member of their Distinguished Alumnus, the highest annual honor UCF Alumni bestows upon a graduate.[4]

Political careerEdit

Planned ParenthoodEdit

According to Eskamani, she first became involved with Planned Parenthood as a patient in 2008. With abstinence-only education at her public school, she turned to Planned Parenthood for information about family planning and reproductive health. From there, Eskamani began volunteering at her local Planned Parenthood affiliate, and in 2012 was hired to serve as a development coordinator. She worked at Planned Parenthood for six years, rising to become the organization's senior director of public affairs and communications for the merged affiliate known as Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.[1]

2018 Florida House of Representatives campaignEdit

 
Eskamani being sworn in as a member of the Florida House of Representatives in 2018

On July 3, 2017, Eskamani announced her candidacy for the 47th district seat in the Florida House of Representatives. She ran for the open seat vacated by Republican Mike Miller, who had served two terms in the district before announcing a run for Congress. On December 20, 2017, Eskamani faced two Republican opponents in a primary and one Democratic opponent who did not live in the district, and would eventually withdraw from the race after Eskamani filed a lawsuit[5] challenging his legitimacy as a candidate.

Over the course of her 2018 campaign, Eskamani received endorsements from prominent community leaders, organizations, and politicians. This included President Barack Obama, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, Equality Florida, AFL-CIO, and the Florida Professional Firefighters State Association.[6][7][8][9][10]

Eskamani identifies as a progressive Democrat, and focused her campaign on enhancing public education, protecting the environment, ensuring health care access and prioritizing gun control legislation.[11]

During her campaign, Eskamani gained national media attention for her advocacy on women's issues and gun control legislation. Pulse nightclub is located in Florida's 47th district, and Eskamani often spoke about gun violence. She was featured on the cover of Time magazine,[12] in The Atlantic,[13] the New York Times,[14] the Independent,[15] by MTV News,[16] Teen Vogue,[17] and in a Vice News[18] documentary series.

The Orlando Sentinel described Eskamani's as one of the most contentious races[19] in the area. Her Republican opponent, Stockton Reeves VI, sent out at least twenty-five pieces of mail alongside three television ads that were negative towards Eskamani. Eskamani addressed each attack directly.[20] Despite being a first time candidate, Eskamani raised more than $522,000 for her campaign.[21]

Eskamani prevailed in the general election on November 6, 2018, winning 57 percent of the vote over the 43 percent for Republican candidate Stockton Reeves.[22] Eskamani became the first Iranian-American to serve in the Florida Legislature.[23]

 
Eskamani debates a measure on the House floor in 2019

2019 Florida legislative sessionEdit

Eskamani was appointed to serve on four legislative committees in the Florida House of Representatives: Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommittee, PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee, and Ways & Means Committee.[3] During the first week of legislative committee meetings in Tallahassee, Eskamani made a public decision to not attend a freshman reception hosted by Associated Industries of Florida.[24] Eskamani was quoted as saying, "I didn't come here for ritzy parties".[25]

During the 2019 legislative session, Eskamani was featured by the Tampa Bay Times as being on the front lines of the abortion debate.[26] She was also a leader for the failed attempt to run out the clock on legislation that would define sanctuary city policies in Florida law.[27]

When a woman who alleged domestic violence was charged with armed burglary and grand theft for entering into her husband's locked apartment and taking his guns into the Lakeland, Florida, police in June 2019, Eskamani tweeted that an arrest was "ridiculous" in this kind of situation. She sent a letter stating to State Attorney Brian Haas stating "Prosecuting Ms. Irby sets a scary precedent that if someone seeks help to escape abuse, they will be punished for it."[28] The State Attorney's Office dropped all charges for both parties who were involved in a highly emotional contested divorce action in order for them to resolve their issues in a family law court.[29] Eskamani also filed legislation in 2019 to eliminate statutory limitations for a minor who experienced sexual assault, legislation that ultimately became law in 2020.[30]

Eskamani is an advocate for public education,[31] school safety,[32] and environmental protection.[33] Eskamani sponsored ten bills herself and co-sponsored more than sixty.[34] She also succeeded in securing $80,000 for a Central Florida nonprofit focused on human trafficking prevention called the Lifeboat Project.[35] She was also successful in working across the aisle to increase arts and cultural funding statewide by 800%.[36]

2020 Florida legislative sessionEdit

Eskamani continued to serve on Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommittee, and Ways & Means Committee but was removed from the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee likely for being "too vocal" on her support of public education.[3][37]

On November 5, 2019, during Committee Weeks for the upcoming 2020 legislative session, Eskamani and Senator José Javier Rodríguez were successful in preventing Investor Owned Utilities (IOU) in Florida from having lower energy efficiency goals under the Florida Energy Efficiency Conservation Act (FEECA).[38] Eskamani spoke before the Florida Public Service Commission in support of higher energy efficiency goals than the proposed goals and more emphasis on renewable energy sources. Eskamani also spoke for the need for Florida to establish new cost-benefit measurements versus the current use of the Ratepayer Impact Measurement (RIM) Test.[38] Eskamani has tried to raise awareness on the role the Florida Public Service Commission plays in the lives of everyday Floridians.[39]

During the 2020 legislative session Eskamani played a leading role in seeking an investigation of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a state organization whose CEO received more than $7.5 million in compensation over a three-year period, including millions of dollars in paid time off. The investigation ultimately led to the State of Florida ending its contract with the organization.[40]

Eskamani also worked with Senator Randolph Bracy to file the legislation to end the school-to-prison pipeline. Filed in honor of Kaia Rolle, a six-year-old black Orlando girl who was arrested by police. The legislation Eskamani introduced would set a statutory limitation on the arrest of minors. The bill took shape as several amendments between the House and Senate chambers and did not pass in the final hours of the legislative session.[41]

One of the biggest debates during the 2020 legislative session was focused on education. Eskamani filed legislation to prohibit public dollars from going to any voucher school that discriminate against students or parents for identifying as LGBTQ+.[42] She also supported public school teachers receiving a pay raise but pushed for additional funding than what was provided.[43]

Another issue Eskamani championed focused on corporate taxation. During the 2020 legislative session Eskamani sponsored numerous amendments to remove special interest tax breaks from the main tax package. She also filed amendments for Florida to implement combined reporting in an effort to close corporate tax loopholes.[44] In addition, Eskamani worked with the Minority Caucus members to file several amendments to repeal a corporate tax refund of $543 million, stating that those dollars could be spent on essential state services versus be sent back to major corporations. No amendment passed.[45]

2020 Florida House of Representatives campaignEdit

In 2020, Eskamani won her re-election bid with a greater vote margin than she did in 2018, receiving 59 percent of the vote.[46]

Much of her campaign consisted of virtual events and her constituent services, particularly for unemployed Floridians. On the campaign end, the team hosted numerous virtual phonebanks, and events, including one event with actor Mark Hamil.[47] During the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Eskamani suspended her campaign field activities from March until June, focusing on relaying public health information.[48] Additionally, during the year of 2020 and 2021, Eskamani's legislative office fielded thousands of unemployment claims, earning her national recognition.[49] The Tampa Bay Times, and other news outlets reported on how her office helped countless claimants navigate the unemployment website established by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.[50] This propelled her campaign forward locally, earning her the endorsement of the Orlando Sentinel,[51] and a nomination from the newspaper's board and readers for her work helping unemployed Floridians. [52]

2021 Florida Legislative SessionEdit

Following her reelection to the Florida State House, Anna Eskamani filed legislation largely focused on the issues witnessed during her campaign. Eskamani filed an Unemployment Omnibus bill HB 207, that would have among other changes, expanded eligibility for benefits, provide greater oversight for the Department of Economic Opportunity that manages Florida's unemployment system, and most controversially, increase the minimum and maximum weekly benefit by more than $100.[53] HB 207 failed to receive a hearing in the State House, however one aspect of the bill (increasing weekly benefit amounts by $100) passed the Florida Senate unanimously.[54] Eskamani matched the senate's proposed increase in an amendment to HB 1463 that would improve the state's CONNECT website, but that amendment ultimately failed along party lines.[55] Additionally she refiled legislation that would establish renewable energy goals,[56] and a bill that would prohibit public dollars from going to schools that discriminated against LGBT+ students or parents,[57] neither bill received a hearing. Notably, she received her first bill hearing this session with HB 409 that would establish the cy pres doctrine for civil cases which would hopefully increase funding for civil legal aide organizations. The bill received bipartisan support in the Civil Justice and Property Rights Committee and Public Integrity and Election Committee. It ultimately died in the Judiciary Committee after it failed to get a hearing before the end of the 2021 session.[58]

Eskamani successfully passed appropriations projects in the house for local organization in her constituency. However, two appropriations that would benefit mental health counseling for survivors of the Pulse Nightclub Massacre, and money to help fund the Zebra Coalition that provides support for homeless LGBT+ youth, both of which Eskamani sponsored.[59] The governor also vetoed appropriations for The Lifeboat Project which helps human trafficking victims and an appropriation for an ADA improvements for Winter Park Mead Botanical Gardens, a park inside her house district.[60]

Awards and recognitionEdit

  • Delta Kappa Gamma, Legislative Friend of Education Award, 2021[61]
  • Florida Education Association, Friend of Public Education Award, 2021[61]
  • Orlando Magazine, Women of the Year, 2021[61]
  • Democratic Women’s Club of Florida, Legislator of the Year, 2020[61]
  • Equality Florida, Voice For Equality Award, 2020[61]
  • Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, Legislative Leadership Award, 2020[61]
  • National Guard Association of Florida, Mr. Charles Maddox Patriotism Award, 2020[61]
  • Orlando Sentinel, Central Floridian of the Year, Finalist, 2020[61]
  • Orlando Weekly, Readers’ Choice Best Local Politician, 2020[61]
  • Run For Something, Virtual Vanguard Award, 2020[61]
  • The LGBT+ Center Orlando, Champion of Equality Award, 2020[61]
  • University of Central Florida, 2020 Distinguished Alumnus, 2020[61]
  • 18 Local Leaders in an Age of Crisis: Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith[62]
  • Equality Florida's 2020 Voice for Equality Honoree, 2020[63]
  • Orlando Weekly Readers' Choice Best Local Politician, 2020[61]
  • The 2020 Mr. Charles Maddox Patriotism Award, 2020[61]
  • University of Central Florida, 2020 Distinguished Alumnus, 2020[61]
  • The LGBT+ Center Orlando, Champion of Equality Award, 2020[61]
  • Run For Something, Virtual Vanguard Award, 2020[61]
  • Iranian American Bar Association Northern Californian Chapter, Distinguished Elected Official Award, 2019[61]
  • Orlando magazine's "50 Most Powerful People," noted as one of the most power people in Central Florida, 2019[61]
  • Orlando magazine's "50 Most Powerful People," noted as a "Powerful Force" in Central Florida and one of fifteen to watch, 2018[61]
  • Watermark Magazine, Orlando's Most Remarkable Person, December 2018[61]
  • Orange County Democratic Executive Committee (DEC), Cannon Porta Award, 2017[61]
  • Orlando magazine's "50 Most Powerful People," noted as one of the most powerful Central Floridians who are shaping Orlando, 2017[61]
  • Central Florida Women's Resource Center, Outstanding Women Award, 2016[61]
  • Leadership Florida, Connect Florida Class VII Graduate, 2016[61]
  • Leadership Orlando, Class 91 Leadership Orlando Graduate, 2016[61]
  • University of Central Florida, College of Health and Public Affairs, Alumni Achievement Award, 2016
  • University of Central Florida, 30 Under 30 Award, 2016[61]
  • Women's Media Center, Progressive Women's Voices, 2016[61]
  • Orlando Sentinel, "Central Florida 100," 2015[61]
  • University of Central Florida, Women's and Gender Studies Program, proclamation May 20th "Anna V. Eskamani Service Learning Day," 2015[61]
  • Emerge USA, Community Service Award, 2014[61]
  • Girl Scouts of Citrus Council, Women of Distinction nomination, 2014[61]
  • SMART Research Grant Recipient, conducted research on student voter apathy, 2012[61]
  • Society of Professional Journalists, Region 3 Mark of Excellence Award, 3rd place General Column Writing, 2012[61]
  • University of Central Florida, Order of Pegasus, 2012[61]
  • University of Central Florida, Top Honor Graduate, 2012[61]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Eskamani, Anna (December 3, 2019). "How I Won a Florida Swing Seat as a Proud Abortion-Rights Supporter". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  2. ^ "Anna and Ida Eskamani". WMFE In-Depth. May 23, 2019. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Florida House of Representatives – Anna  V. Eskamani - 2018 – 2020 ( Speaker Oliva )". myfloridahouse.gov. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "UCF Announces 2020 Alumni Award Winners | University of Central Florida News". University of Central Florida News | UCF Today. September 23, 2020. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  5. ^ Gillespie, Ryan. "Lou Forges drops bid for House District 47, leaving Anna Eskamani unopposed". OrlandoSentinel.com. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  6. ^ Peters, Xander (October 1, 2018). "First-time Florida House candidate Anna Eskamani scores Obama endorsement". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  7. ^ "Buddy Dyer casts backing to Anna Eskamani in HD 47". Florida Politics – Campaigns & Elections. Lobbying & Government. September 5, 2017. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  8. ^ "Stephanie Murphy endorses Anna Eskamani in HD 47 race". Florida Politics – Campaigns & Elections. Lobbying & Government. February 5, 2018. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  9. ^ "Equality Florida endorses Anna Eskamani in HD 47 race". Florida Politics – Campaigns & Elections. Lobbying & Government. October 30, 2017. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  10. ^ "Anna Eskamani gets Orlando firefighters' union endorsement in HD 47". Florida Politics – Campaigns & Elections. Lobbying & Government. January 8, 2018. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  11. ^ "Democrat Anna Eskamani is looking for your vote to send her to Tallahassee as the new representative of Florida House District 47. – Winter Park-Maitland Observer". West Orange Times & Windermere Observer. November 2, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  12. ^ Cordeiro, Monivette. "Anna Eskamani makes cover of Time featuring first-time women candidates". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  13. ^ Graham, David A. (August 9, 2018). "How a Blue Wave Could Crash Far Beyond Washington". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  14. ^ Roose, Kevin; Frenkel, Sheera (July 13, 2018). "4,500 Tech Workers, 1 Mission: Get Democrats Elected". The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  15. ^ "Beyond the House and Senate, more than 7,000 politicians will directly impact Americans' lives – and most have no idea who they are". The Independent. November 5, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  16. ^ Powers, Scott (October 26, 2018). "MTV News contrasts Anna Eskamani and North Carolina young conservative". Florida Politics. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  17. ^ Magane, Azmia. "This Feminist Hero Just Became the First Iranian-American Elected in Florida". Teen Vogue. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  18. ^ "The story of four female candidates trying to make history in 2018". Vice. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  19. ^ Gillespie, Ryan. "Florida House race between Anna Eskamani, Stockton Reeves one of area's most contested". OrlandoSentinel.com. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  20. ^ Wolf, Colin. "The Florida GOP keeps making Anna Eskamani look cool as hell". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  21. ^ Wilson, Drew (October 23, 2018). "Anna Eskamani clears $500K raised for HD 47 flip". floridapolitics.com. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  22. ^ "Florida Election Results". The New York Times. November 6, 2018. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  23. ^ "Democrat Anna Eskamani defeated Republican Stockton Reeves with 57.35% of the votes to win the race for Florida House District 47". West Orange Times & Windermere Observer. November 6, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  24. ^ Perry, Mitch (December 10, 2018). "Taking on the status quo: Freshman Democratic lawmaker says no thanks to attending exclusive corporate-sponsored event". floridaphoenix.com. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  25. ^ "On night of special interest welcome party for new legislators, some Democrats opt out". miamiherald. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  26. ^ McNeill, Claire (April 25, 2019). "Those on Florida's front lines in the abortion battle know change is coming". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  27. ^ Gross, Samantha. "FL Dems say shot at killing sanctuary cities bill fell 10 minutes short". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  28. ^ "Florida woman charged after giving estranged husband's guns to police". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. June 24, 2019. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  29. ^ Berkowitz, Kathy Leigh (August 27, 2019). "State Attorney's Office drops charges in Irby case". The Ledger. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  30. ^ Volz, Brianna (March 11, 2020). "'Donna's Law' passes Florida Legislature, heads to governor's desk". WKMG.
  31. ^ Postal, Leslie (April 29, 2019). "Florida House votes to expand school voucher programs". orlandosentinel.com. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  32. ^ Gancarski, A. G. (May 2019). "House OKs armed teachers in classrooms in school safety vote". Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  33. ^ Contorno, Steve (April 9, 2019). "Publix embraces plastic bag ban in South Carolina, so why not in Florida?". The Ledger, Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  34. ^ "Representative Anna V. Eskamani 2019– Sponsored Bills". myfloridahouse.gov. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  35. ^ "Request Rejected". Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  36. ^ Powers, Scott (May 2, 2019). "Carlos Smith, Anna Eskamani applaud eightfold increase in state arts funding". Flapol.
  37. ^ Solochek, Jeffrey S. (August 30, 2019). "Florida House cuts one education committee, and one vocal Democrat from the fray". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  38. ^ a b Klas, Mary Ellen (November 6, 2019) [NOVEMBER 05, 2019]. "After public outcry, regulators reject utilities' plan to end energy savings program". Miami Herald.
  39. ^ "Rep. Eskamani: Get to Know the Florida PSC!" – via www.youtube.com.
  40. ^ Gallop, J. D. "Florida House targets nonprofit domestic violence agency". Florida Today.
  41. ^ Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board. "6-year-old Kaia Rolle's arrest justified a big change, but lawmakers haven't delivered | Editorial". orlandosentinel.com.
  42. ^ Postal, Leslie; Martin, Annie. "Anti-LGBT Florida schools getting school vouchers". orlandosentinel.com.
  43. ^ "DeSantis signs teacher pay raises into Florida law with bipartisan support". Tampa Bay Times.
  44. ^ Haughey, John. "Florida House's $109.3M tax plan survives proposed amendments, secures preliminary nod". The Center Square.
  45. ^ "Despite coronavirus crisis, Florida House passes $193 million tax cut bill". Tampa Bay Times.
  46. ^ "2020 OFFICIAL RESULTS REPORT-EL45A" (PDF). Orange County Supervisor of elections. November 16, 2020. p. 3.
  47. ^ Prieur, Danielle (October 22, 2020). "Use the Force and Vote: Actor Mark Hamill, Rep. Eskamani and Volunteers Team Up for Florida Phone Bank". 90.7 WMFE. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  48. ^ House 47, Anna V. Eskamani for Florida (March 13, 2020). "Representative Anna V. Eskamani To Temporarily Suspend Re-Election Campaign Field Activities". Anna Eskamani for Florida House 47. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  49. ^ "Two state lawmakers confront a deadly pandemic, a disputed election and a divided, angry America". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  50. ^ Company, Tampa Publishing. "As Florida's jobless website crashed, state lawmakers scrambled to help". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  51. ^ Board, Orlando Sentinel Editorial. "Endorsement: Pandemic response proved Anna Eskamani's devotion to constituents, and her value in Tallahassee". orlandosentinel.com. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  52. ^ Reddick, Jay. "Anna Eskamani: A problem-solver for thousands of jobless Floridians | Commentary". orlandosentinel.com. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  53. ^ "House Bill 207". myfloridahouse.gov. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  54. ^ Mower, Lawrence (April 23, 2021). "Senate unanimously OKs increased unemployment benefit. Fight with House, governor next". Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  55. ^ Turner, Jim (April 21, 2021). "Fla. House Rejects Effort To Boost Jobless Benefits". Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  56. ^ "HB 283 – State Renewable Energy Goals". Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  57. ^ "HB 655 – Private School Eligibility Requirements for Participation in Educational Scholarship Programs". myfloridahouse.gov. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  58. ^ "CS/CS/HB 409 – Distribution of Residual Funds in Civil Matters". myfloridahouse.gov. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  59. ^ Galbraith, Alex. "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoes money for mental health counseling for Pulse shooting survivors". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  60. ^ "2021 Veto List Final.pdf" (PDF). flgov.com. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  61. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj "Florida House of Representatives".
  62. ^ "18 Local Leaders in an Age of Crisis: Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith". October 1, 2020.
  63. ^ "Equality Florida to Honor Representative Anna V. Eskamani, Highlight Historic Elections Program at Virtual Gala | Equality Florida". eqfl.org.