Greg Jackson is looking for a job. He wants to work for the residents of District 45. It’s an interesting district with meandering twists and turns through the Orange County map with stops in Apopka, Ocoee, Orlando, Winter Garden, Lockhart, Zellwood, Pine Hills and South Apopka. A majority of its 162,000 residents are minorities (45% are black and 17% are Hispanic), and two-thirds of its 90,000-plus voters are registered Democrats.
District 45 is in need of a representative in Tallahassee for the Florida State Legislature, and Jackson believes he is the man for the task.
He sat down with The Apopka Voice to participate in the District 45 Candidate Feature series, but before the interview began he handed out his five-page resume’, which includes 14 Professional, Civic and Community Affiliations (including the legal advisor to The Apopka Community Task Force on Violence), 22 Noteworthy Presentations, Lectures and Seminars (including the Master of Ceremonies at the Marvin C. Zanders Humanitarian of the Year Awards Banquet), and 22 Community Service Activities (including his role on the Board of Trustees at his St. Paul AME Church in Apopka).
Jackson is currently an Associate Attorney with the Conroy Simber, P.A. law firm in Orlando, and General Counsel for the town of Eatonville’s Community Redevelopment Agency. He was previously an Intelligence Analyst for the US Navy Reserve, and a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida assigned to Economic Crimes.
His range of experience is wide, and it’s that range that Jackson features as his distinctive qualifications in this election.
"Education is going to open doors to a lot of things, because it not only prepares people, but it also shows employers that they have individuals who can step out of this community and into the jobs that they are looking to bring to this area.”
“When I was an Assistant State Attorney General, I was charged with and given the task of representing and protecting the rights of Floridians. And so having that experience from a legal and legislative standpoint gives me a deep level of experience. Being in the State House of Representatives would be an extension of that experience. I have an intimate understanding of how business works… of how government works. I’ve actually drafted and crafted laws that were put into place in the state of Florida to protect its citizens. I believe I will have a unique view on how to make things work. No one else in this race has my diversity of experience, and District 45 is a diverse region. It has rural, urban, agricultural and industrial sectors. In order to properly represent all their interests, it’s important to have diverse areas of experience, deep-rooted experience at how to handle and deal with a wide range of issues.”
Jackson doesn't live in South Apopka, but his roots to the area are deep, and his service to the community is well known.
"I work quietly, but passionately in the community to ensure that anytime something is needed, anytime resources are needed, I'm there to say ‘tell me what you need’, or ‘here is something I can bring to the table’," he said.
Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer confirmed his quiet service to the community in an endorsement he sent to Jackson in July.
“My friend Greg Jackson has a true servant’s heart,” Kilsheimer wrote in his endorsement. “Over the past four years, I have personally witnessed him invest sweat equity into serving the residents of Apopka, and particularly the residents of South Apopka. I have been with Greg as he organized community clean-ups, served snow-cones to youth at the John Bridges Center and deliver holiday meals to families in need. I am firmly convinced that he has been called to serve in Tallahassee as State Representative for District 45. I have witnessed his skills. I have witnessed his heart for service, and I am proud to endorse him.”
Jackson’s plans for South Apopka and for District 45 are comprehensive. They cover a range of subjects including job opportunities, education, training, and transportation. Jackson believes all of them work together to solve most issues in a struggling community – including crime and violence.
“When you go to the communities and neighborhoods and you knock on doors, and even in South Apopka, violence is not the first thing they talk about – it’s jobs. We don’t have jobs and we don’t have opportunities. The best way to address this is education. Education is going to open doors to a lot of things, because it not only prepares people, but it also shows employers that they have individuals who can step out of this community and into the jobs that they are looking to bring to this area.”
Jackson has specific targets for education and transportation, such as revamping mass transit to better serve South Apopka and West Orange County.
“They say Central Florida has a mass transit system, but if you’ve been to New York City or Chicago, you know we don’t have a mass transit system. We have individuals who are taking anywhere from 2-3 hours to get from West Orange County to downtown Orlando to get to work or school. I want to make sure we have the funding necessary to improve our transportation system whether its mass transportation like we have now or a commuter rail system that they’ve always discussed. I want to bring that into fruition.
His ideas for education include a new college campus for District 45.
"I want to bring a satellite campus from UCF or Valencia to West Orange County. That will help offset some of the travel, and it will also ensure that we have individuals in the community that are prepared for the jobs coming to this area for technology and high-paying manufacturing jobs that are likely to come to this area. Florida Hospital – Apopka is coming sooner than we know. That will prepare people to work in the hospital system as well. In order to address violence in this community, in order to address the disparity in living conditions in the community, you have to be prepared to bring about economic development and jobs to the area."
Jackson is a driven, qualified candidate who has a lot of ideas for his district, and plans to make them work. August 30th is Election Day for District 45, and Jackson is hoping to hear the phrase "you're hired" from his 162,000 employers.
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