Sunday afternoon, real estate investor and black bear activist Chuck O’Neal announced his intention to run for Florida House District 29, surrounded by friends and family in downtown Orlando.

O’Neal made the announcement at a memorial held to mourn and raise awareness of the 300 black bears killed the previous weekend during a hunt authorized by the Florida Wildlife Commission to reduce the species’ population.

“We had a memorial service for the Florida black bear and had several hundred people to pay homage to the bears, and the checkpoint monitors that worked at the stations last weekend,” O’Neal said. “My hope is to get into the Legislature and bring it back to reality to accept the fact that we are a democracy and they need to respect the will of the people.”

O’Neal, a Democrat, will be running against Republican incumbent Scott Plakon for the Seminole County seat. He’s a lifelong Floridian who has been married to his wife for more than 20 years. O’Neal was also a first vice president of the League of Women Voters in Florida, but resigned to run for office.

In addition to black bears, O’Neal also advocates for Amendment 1 and opposes “fracking.” He will speak about the issue in front of the House in Tallahassee this week.

“You can classify me as a person that believes in good governance,” he said. “We need to respect what the people of Florida want and not minimize them. My allegiance is to the state.”

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