As he runs for Congress in 2022, the Democratic representative from Pinellas County promises to “create an economy that gives every working Floridian a fair shot at the American Dream.” This is why and how he plans to deliver on that promise.
If Florida Rep. Ben Diamond has an overriding message, it is this: “Invest in people, not the powerful special interests.”
The Democrat from Pinellas County, who lives in St. Petersburg with wife Christina and their three children, was first elected to the Florida Legislature in November 2016. He has since been recognized as a champion for Democratic values and promises to keep fighting for everyday Floridians as he runs for Congress in 2022.
“We need to have an economy where people have opportunities to live and create a better life for their children and grandchildren,” the Yale graduate told Floricua. “And that means having not only economic opportunities, but for their children to have access to a great public education, and for their families to have access to health care.”
However, Florida comes up critically short in those areas. More than 800,000 Floridians lack health care, and the state ranks 49th in education funding in the nation. For this reason, Diamond believes in prioritizing the state’s investments, as well as establishing what he calls “common-sense policies” that reward hard work.
“We have a lot of people in Florida that are working but are not making ends meet. We need to raise the minimum wage,” he said. “In Congress, I’ll work to create good-paying jobs. We must also focus on helping the small businesses that drive our local economy.”
Working for the People
One thing that the Democratic representative finds frustrating is the many missed opportunities to help those in need across the state, simply by accepting the federal funds available to Florida.
“We have had a public health crisis in Florida, we have had an economic crisis, and the governor has turned his back on those programs and opportunities that would most help us in our recovery,” Diamond said, adding that Florida is one of about a dozen states that have not expanded this health benefit under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
He attributes the situation to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whom he calls out for “putting ideology ahead of common sense. I think the governor is focusing on running for president in 2024 and is trying to appeal to this very right-wing base of voters.”
As a result, almost a million Floridians are not able to access health care, “[even though] it should be available, but we have a state actor that’s blocking it, and that is a big problem. We are in a position where we can help those people and we’re not doing it, and it’s wrong,” added Diamond, who also advocates for investing in infrastructure and protecting land and water.
Looking Out for Puerto Rico
In fact, Diamond was part of the legal team that led a successful campaign to amend Florida’s Constitution to provide funding for land and water conservation. He has also been an ardent advocate for resiliency efforts to prepare Florida for the impacts of climate change. For this reason, Diamond strongly believes in investing in clean, renewable energy that creates good-paying jobs, as well as protects Floridians from flooding caused by sea-level rise and extreme weather. And this effort is extended to the Puerto Rican communities in Florida.
“We have had some significant storms hit Puerto Rico, we have had some significant challenges there in terms of infrastructure and investment, and it’s had a real impact there,” he said. “A lot of people in our Puerto Rican communities here in Florida are very concerned about that, and for their families on the island, and we must make sure that Washington DC continues to support and invest in the island. That’s a real priority.”