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Democrat Carollyn Taylor to challenge Republican Rep. Andrade in state House

Courtesy photo

For the past three years, Carollyn Taylor has spent most of her time organizing and campaigning for local and state races. Now, she wants to put that energy into her own race for Florida House District 2.

The 29-year-old Democratic candidate faces an uphill battle against incumbent Alex Andrade in a heavily conservative district, but she says she wants to be a representative for “every voter in the district.”

Taylor started in politics running Dr. Jennifer Zimmerman’s campaign against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz in 2018.

“I saw her speak at the (inaugural) Pensacola Women’s March and I wanted to be a part of her campaign,” Taylor said. “Here was someone who looked like me running for office.”

Although Zimmerman won the primary, she lost in the general election. But Taylor was instantly fired up. She changed her voter registration from Republican to Democrat and lent her time and expertise to the U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign in the 2020 primary.

In a recent video called“Tea Time with Taylor,” the candidate sat with Zimmerman to discuss issues facing candidates in the state. Zimmerman said she was proud of the work they did on her 2018 campaign and she was pleased to see more women carrying the torch.

“We should try, we should all try,” Zimmerman said in the video. “We all have a voice and we all have a seat at the table.”

At the beginning of this year, Taylor volunteered with the Georgia Democrats Voter Protection Team during that state’s Senate runoff elections. It was then she decided she wanted to run a campaign for herself.

“I’d be doing all the same work, except now it’s for me,” the Pensacola native said with a laugh. “I want to take the power I have to Tallahassee. I’m ready to represent.”

Carollyn Taylor and her wife, Kate Kasten.
Peter Pryharski
Courtesy photo
Carollyn Taylor and her wife, Kate Kasten.

Taylor is among the growing number of millennials running for office. According to the Millennial Action Project, an organization that tracks young people running for public office, a record number of people under the age of 45 ran for office in 2020. There was a 266 % increase from 2018 to 2020 in millennials running for Congress.

One of Taylor’s big concerns is the environment and protecting the area’s natural resources. She said she tries to practice what she preaches by recycling, composting, and volunteering at local beach cleanups. Health care is another big issue. She believes in equal access to quality care for everyone. She’s also a proponent for legalizing cannabis and has her medical marijuana card.

“It’s more than just legalizing but also decriminalizing marijuana,” she said.

Another main focus in her campaign is serving military and veterans. Her wife, Kate, is a medically retired Navy veteran. Taylor said she has not yet mapped out specific policies and plans but anything she aims to do she wants to be “very bipartisan.”

Taylor engages with people in the district by way of her job as a driver for Grubhub. She joined the gig economy after leaving her job in insurance so that she could have more flexibility to organize. And it might be a great way to canvass.

“I’m out in the community, and because I’m an independent contractor I can wear my Democratic gear,” she said.

Working alongside the food industry has also given the candidate some perspective about the challenges many have been facing. And how those challenges have been exacerbated in the past two years.

“I’ve seen firsthand the effects the pandemic has had on restaurant businesses,” she said. “They’re facing staff shortages, low wages. And a lot of these workers don’t have health care. It’s given me an inside peek into what people are facing.”

Since she launched her campaign two weeks ago, Taylor has collected about 100 signatures of the 599 needed to be on the 2022 ballot. She said she’ll be hitting the pavement soon to go out and listen to people.

And in such divided times, Taylor said she doesn’t want to run on labels.

“Saying I’m a Democrat should be at the end of my introduction,” said Taylor. “I’m a concerned citizen interested in solutions. And I want to represent every voter in this district. I want people to see me as the best choice.”

Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.