Activist Robin Denise Harris has filed to run for the Orange County Commission, challenging incumbent Victoria Siplin in District 6.
Harris, 51, of Orlando, said she hopes to be able to energize marginalized communities within District 6’s predominantly black population to get interested and involved in public activities.
Her activism signals a progressive politics approach to the race, as she has worked with progressive community organizers including Ida and Ana Eskamani and Chardo Richardson in various causes in Orlando. Ida Eskamani now is legislative aide to Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith. Her sister Anna Eskamani is running for the Florida House of Representatives in House District 47. Richardson is running for Congress in a primary battle, challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy from the left.
Harris was among the “Rubio 10,” protesters who were arrested for trespassing in June 2016 while holding a sit-in demonstration in the office building of Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, challenging his positions on gun law reforms following the Pulse nightclub massacre.
She is a native Texan who arrived in Orlando, via Detroit, about five years ago. A former short-distance track runner and long-jumper, she views the political race from the eyes of that track competitor: she can admire her competitor but still run all-out to win.
“I love Orlando. Because of it, I have a lot of passion around some of the things I’m interested in. I feel a fresher voice needs to be heard. I think our city and county councils are kind of established, and may not be as engaged in some of the issues in the marginalized communities. It’s definitely not,” Harris said.
She’s particularly concerned about the county becoming engaged in dealing with future effects of climate change. She cited Hurricane Irma, and noted that many communities in her district were not just without power for a long time, but without food. Her district also includes the Orlo Vista community, which suffered some of the worst flooding in Central Florida. They all must be better prepared, she said.
“I hope this is a campaign of me activating other voices… to hold elected officials accountable, to build power where people feel powerless,” Harris said.