Hancock and Tuck square off at Okeechobee political forum

OKEECHOBEE — At the Okeechobee Primary Election Candidate Forum on July 16, Republicans Ned Hancock and Kaylee Tuck each made their pitch to be next to represent District 55 in the Florida House of Representatives.

They’re running to replace incumbent Republican Cary Pigman, who has hit his term limit and can no longer run.

Hancock, a citrus grower out of Avon Park, spoke first at the forum.

“I work with and for local businesses throughout this district,” said Hancock. “We have ties to every corner of this district. I understand what it means to make a payroll and have employees that are dependent on you. I also understand what it means when there are regulations passed by a governing body in Tallahassee and how they impact our businesses.”

Ahead of the forum, Hancock secured a key endorsement from Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel E. Stephen. According to Transparency USA, to date Hancock has raised $204,149 for his campaign from 517 unique donors.

Tuck, a land-use lawyer from Sebring, used her opening statement to explain her reasoning for running for the open seat.

“So why am I running for office?” asked Tuck. “I do not want AOC to be the legacy of my generation. I believe the millennial generation has an opportunity to make an impact on our country, county and state. And I want to be the voice of our millennial generation. I’m 100% pro-life, Second Amendment and conservative.”

AOC refers to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents New York in the United States House of Representatives and came to fame after upsetting the Democratic Establishment candidate Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent at the time, in a 2018 primary.

According to Transparency USA, Tuck has raised $105,098 from 290 unique donors. She has received endorsements from former U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney and former Florida Sen. Pat Neal.

Both candidates have said that they will keep an office location in Okeechobee County if elected.

The issue of charter schools reviving tax dollars was raised near the end of the forum.

“Charter schools aren’t a bad thing if they are run correctly,” said Hancock. “I’m not as big of a fan of the capital dollars that have been siphoned off to charter schools. The concept behind them is good.”

Hancock went on to say that although charter schools aren’t the answer for everyone, they play a role in continuing to look for different opportunities in education.

“As the child of a public school teacher I see the issue with siphoning off tax dollars for charter schools,” said Tuck. “But I do see the need to expand our school choice so that we can cater to every educational need.”
In their closing statements, each candidate highlighted their primary appeal.

“If you look around this district, there are great people,” explained Hancock. “There are people who have done this before us. Mr. Bert Harris did a phenomenal job representing us. Denise Grimsley and Joe Spratt. For years we’ve had great representation. There are good people trying to make a difference. We need to support that in Tallahassee. We need somebody that understands each and every corner of this district. We deserve better than what we got in the last several years. I hope to be able to be the person that supports this area.”

In her closing statement, Tuck said she is running to bring conservative values to the next generation and offered to answer any questions for those who still had concerns after the forum.

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