Chardo Richardson is a Progressive running in the Democratic Party - in the 7th Congressional District of Florida. He was interviewed by #WeThePeople on November 6th, 2017. He is up against a Democratic incumbent Stephanie Murphy and 3 Republicans.
Chardo introduces himself to us in a video. He is 37, a devout single-father and an air-force veteran who served honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan, before pursuing a law degree and fighting for civil rights and social justice. Why? It’s because I strongly believe in our Constitutional rights – he says. So why am I now running for Congress? The citizens of Seminole County, Orange County and America deserve better. They deserve better wages, access to tuition-free education and to be given opportunities to enter into a new 21st century economy. Chardo is endorsed by both Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats. As a Justice Democrat he will serve alongside other extraordinary ordinary people committed to 100% renewable energy, rebuilding the economy, criminal justice reform, Immigrants’ Rights, Women’s Rights and LGBTQ Rights. Our campaign refuses to take corporate lobbyists’ money because we are an organization of, for and by the People – he tells us.
The interview opens to gentle laughter. Chardo is live from Brand New Summit – which we will find out about later. John thanks him for making time for the interview. Chardo in turn says he appreciates the opportunity to chat with us all and thanks the Uphill Media team for their hard work and efforts in championing causes for the People. You guys are doing a great job – he comments. John is happy and adds that the audience are a big part of the team, as is Laura Livengood.
Chardo – who is also visiting family, is in D.C. with many other BNC candidates and had a summit today (11/06/2017). He’s in a great mood and has clearly made memories that will last a lifetime. We were at the Lincoln Memorial too, where we took some great photos and got to meet all the new candidates – he says. I already knew Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Paula Swearengin, Cori Bush, Anthony Clark and (of course) Mike Hepburn – who is running in Southern Florida. It was a phenomenal experience. The people that came; the panels we had; the speakers … It was truly inspiring to see all that that courage in one room! The new candidates are amazing too. They are all committed to the same issues … issues that serve the People. They are ready to start legislating for the People. John introduces Laura and says hi to the audience. Chardo waves to all. I’m impressed with what we are beginning to see from BNC – John says. What are your thoughts regarding 2018 based on what you’ve witnessed today with them? I’m (fueled) Brother - Chardo replies! All of (the BNC candidates) are committed to things like equality when it comes to women’s pay; ending mass incarceration; Medicare for All … We aren’t backing down on these issues, not wavering, not compromising! He continues talking while John shows the slides mentioned below. Chardo clarifies. We may compromise on how to get these things done, but we are not going to compromise that they must and will be done. That’s the good part about having individuals that are selfless, courageous and committed to the People of this country. All of us have had some sort of community involvement. We weren’t politicians, even if there were a few candidates who were running prior to joining our slate. (Audio issues) I truly believe we are all going to affect our children’s children’s future.
Slide: Chardo’s face with the words - Justice is here.
Slide: #Equality for All. “Currently I am a Director of the Public Schools Educators and Education Support Professionals Union in Seminole County. I represent the individuals who shape our future generations. I’m proud to say that Seminole County is an A-rated school district largely because of the individuals I serve.”
Continued from above: We have to get together and show (ourselves) what kind of power we have in community – John comments. We (don’t exactly) have MSM behind us. Your summit is encouraging to hear about. It also presents different challenges given that you’re up against an incumbent who is taking some serious cash from the Establishment while claiming to be a Democrat ... This is true - says Chardo. CNN just did a report (11/06/2017) saying that my Primary was one of 9 to watch in 2018.
Slide: CNN: A lefty longshot “Chardo might just pull off a win in Florida’s 7th district. (He) is a bold progressive activist and former ACLU of Central Florida board president. (…) He’s running against Stephanie Murphy, a “Blue Dog” Democrat who continues to vote in favor of the Trump-Ryan agenda. She voted for an unconstitutional anti-immigrant bill to equip Trump’s deportation regime. (…) At a time when many Americans are calling on Congressional Republicans to join the resistance against Trump, Murphy - a Democrat, chooses to enable this radical administration instead.”
Continued from above: It’s good – Chardo says, that they notice that BNC (and Justice Democrats) are something to be watched, but you guys have been here all along. You already knew that. Yes, the incumbent is making some bad votes when it comes to people and voting for laws that are going to harm us and expand incarceration. I can’t stand back and watch that. That Kate’s law H.R.3004 is Un-American. Putting billions more dollars into our broken criminal justice system to build more prisons to lock away people – that’s terrible! Another bill (I can’t recall the number) – Chardo says, The Criminal Gang Association Bill - or something … is also bad for immigrants. It puts the burden on an immigrant or an undocumented individual to prove that they are not in a gang! John wonders what happened to “innocent until proven guilty”! And even if you are in a gang – John adds, is that an automatic conviction of being bad? I mean I guess - replies Chardo. It’s basically (a matter of guilty by) association. H.R.3004 was bad enough. People in his district - Chardo tells us, were quite shocked at such a vote especially coming from a Democrat! I’m 47 – John says, and have grown up with white privilege. I was pretty ignorant of much of this until Bernie Sanders woke me up, but (I think) we have a serious racism problem in the U.S. Do you agree? Yes we have – Chardo replies, and we need to understand that while we all have different races we all want the same things! Dividing people up by color, race etc. - that’s a problem! (Unfortunately) in this country (there are) people who want to continue to fuel that, even to the point that we are making laws that are almost discriminatory on their face.
Slide: Photo: Chardo fighting for the release of detainees at Orlando International Airport.
Slide: “I will represent people who are mistreated for any reason, whether it’s their ethnic heritage, their religious practices, their sexual orientation, their gender or how much money they have in their pockets.”
Continued from above: I can’t wait to see some of these challenges that will come from the Supreme Court – Chardo continues, although we may not see them for years. I can’t imagine though that we will make all these completely harmful laws against immigrants and undocumented individuals and assume they won’t be challenged in court … They are going to be! John nods. Chardo muses about the courts and how this will go. Sometimes going (as far as) the Supreme Court is great – he says, because then they can’t make another stupid law like that (11/06/2017). If it wasn’t for the legal system - says John, if Trump had his way, we’d be in a hell of a lot worse shape with deportation and ICE (which is the equivalent of the Nazi Gestapo at this point). Chardo agrees. That’s the level we are at now – John says, with all of the Representation … with ACLU and all the law suits. Yes. That’s our recourse in this country … to be able to petition the courts and to call for redress of our harms. It’s not (down to) one person – Chardo tells us. I think it’s a whole entire thought-process, focused on finding someone “wrong” in our society. It makes us have to take these things to court just to protect people’s rights. John agrees and says - it seems like we are trying to single them out anyway because it is a prison for-profit system. Chardo nods. John quotes from Chardo himself – who joined the military after high school to defend liberty and justice and do his part in giving back to his country. (In) Iraq and Afghanistan … he saw places that were impoverished and full of human rights violations. “It did not fully register then that many of these issues were happening back home in the very same country I was fighting for.” Chardo adds that when he came home it broke his heart to see the level of poverty. I’ll be honest with you – he says, I am honored by my service but when you are in service you are in a bubble. You are around other military folks. You have a steady paycheck. You’re fed. When I got out of the military and no longer had that safety net, my eyes were opened. You walk around any city in America and you see that we have a homeless problem, a poverty problem. People go to the grocery store and have to make decisions they shouldn’t have to make. He refers to the working poor. This is why we need to raise the minimum wage. We are keeping people in prison all across this Nation and it’s costing us – no matter the State you are in, approximately $30,000 per year per person. Yet the people who work for Walmart and the like - who earn minimum wage and can’t afford to feed themselves or their families, are making less than it costs to keep someone in prison. That is a problem in my mind. He tells us that in his district a worker probably needs to earn $20 to $21 an hour to afford to rent a two-bedroomed … if they have a family. And that’s not going to happen – John states, if you work at a gas station or at Walmart, unless you’re the general manager … and we’re subsidizing that. You and I as taxpayers are paying the balance. Yes we are – Chardo replies, corporate welfare needs to stop! I’m sure they’re not happy about not being able to contribute to any of our campaigns and therefore not pulling the strings like they’ve been doing, but it (really) needs to stop. We’re giving them all the tax breaks and they are making money hand over fist off our productivity, while we suffer. We are the ones that have to stay on government assistance because our employers aren’t paying us and aren’t taking care of our healthcare needs in arguably the most prosperous country in the (history of the) world. If we’re so prosperous, then why do we have so many hungry – he asks? Chardo then tells us what John Heenan – a newer candidate from Montana, said and asked of him and a few others at the summit. John H. said that it was tough managing his law practice, (finding time for his) wife and four children and campaigning. He wanted to know what kept them all going. Chardo’s answer was that he kept different situations he had encountered in mind – like the little girl collecting cans on a Saturday morning and putting them into bags in a relative’s truck. She clearly wasn’t just doing it to make some extra pocket-money. It upset him. John empathizes with him and says that they’re gonna talk about that a little more because for him that ties into military spending which seems to be where all the money goes. Yes - says Chardo.
Laura has a question from Melissa in Vermont (who is in YouTube chat) and who wants to know what Chardo thinks about the people coming from Puerto Rico to Florida. Judy (also in YouTube chat) pointed out that you’re up in Central Florida, and so may not be affected as much – Laura adds. I say welcome – Chardo replies. As Americans we have to be ready whenever any of our States or Territories suffer any kind of harm. As other Americans we need to be ready to open our arms to them because that’s what Americans do. So great … Come … Get back on your feet. If you’re going to stay, stay! I had the unique opportunity to meet with Latino Leadership Incorporated – I hope I’m getting that right but I believe I am. The gentleman I spoke with let me tour his facility. He’s in the Orlando area. He serves my district and he was telling me how many people they were processing a day from Puerto Rico and how they can’t find housing for (all of) these folks so some are literally sleeping in their cars. Out of this small little area Latin Leadership Incorporated (holds a pantry). They are signing people up for services. They run a special-needs school. They are working so very hard to serve the Americans that are arriving and they need the funding to do that. It’s not happening (though) at the scale it should - Chardo says in response to Laura. There are other folks in the community that are actually coming and bringing them donations. Why isn’t the government providing food aid for them? They discuss money and what becomes of it. Is it going to the people who are actually doing the work or to the organizations that just have the big name? Do you understand what I mean - asks Chardo? Or to the little name with big connections, such as Whitefish – asks Laura? Exactly - replies Chardo. Cronyism is one of the greater issues that we have – John says. Money in politics and corruption ... we’re talking about a lot of symptoms – he says.
There is a general question from YouTube too. How does Chardo keep informed about news in his district? Where does he get it and what is his pipeline? Oh man I love this question - Chardo says. He wakes up at 4:30 a.m. he informs us, and he reads anything that he can about Congress. He is studying up on different committees, learning how to budget money … I have a little check list – he tells us. How much of Congress did I learn? How much of my platform did I study? … Then he gets to current events. He does a lot of reading PDFs and (pulls) a lot of court cases. He follows the Mainstream Media like NPR, watches TYT … He really gets it from everywhere - he tells us, while keeping a good eye on the source and trying to check things out. The great part – he tells us, is that I have a research team that is phenomenal and volunteers that are driven and passionate, so if there is ever something questionable I send it to those guys and they figure it out somehow. John is happy there are people checking source material for Chardo. We love our gleaners - says Laura. They do so much for us. Having a team like that is really awesome. Chardo agrees. So long as you’re getting (info) from outside MSM - says John smiling. That’s it for now - says Laura. That last question was from (Redneconomics).
Referring back to a slide mentioned above (#Equality for All …) John tells Chardo that that blows his mind because he doesn’t associate Florida with the idea of great schools. How did you accomplish that? Chardo refers to the individuals that he serves, and says – I represent them if they have disciplinary issues. I “collective bargain” for them. It’s teachers, custodians, clerical staff, paraprofessionals … It’s all the folks that make our children’s experience in public schools worth it and get them to become the citizens we want them to be (who) give back to our communities. Those individuals work as a team to make sure that our students do very well, and yes Seminole County is A-rated. 98% of our students graduate and that’s a great statistic to have. I’m very passionate (about this). We (stood up) this coalition in Florida focused on education equality, and different organizations worked within that and are still doing so – I just had to step away to run. Public school education is very important. It’s the structure that we need in place to make sure that we have a healthy America. We’ve been defunding it. What we need to do if you want it to work is to fund it. It’s just that simple! I’m a public school student. Many people are. It works when funded. Otherwise they can’t do anything. We’ve learned that lesson with the military – says John. Right - says Chardo. I love the fact – says John, that we have a military and I thank you for your service. However the military has got more than 50% of the pie (chart that goes around) and education is this microscopic sliver. I just think that a lot of the problems that we have might possibly be addressed if we educated our citizens a bit better. Chardo thinks that teachers need to be allowed teach and that the testing model that is in place needs to be reviewed. I graduated – he says, in 1998 from high-school and didn’t have to go through all that to get to the next grade. I know my daughter is experiencing it and it stresses her and the other kids out when they have to take a test. We also need to fund the employees of these schools. I know a custodian who is working two jobs. This person is making sure that our schools are safe and clean for our students … as far as common core goes though, I haven’t dug in enough on it. I am concerned with making sure that our public schools have the necessary funds they need to operate smoothly and to employ people. People are running away from teaching and education in public schools because they can’t make a living! I’m one of those people - John says. Pay them - says Chardo and then in response to John’s comment, asks “Are you really?” When I started college – John tells him, I was 28 and wanted to be a math teacher, a physics teacher. The deal was you had to spend 12 months unpaid just to become a teacher. I realized that when I was done with it I wasn’t going to make jack shit until (I was employed as a teacher). I had kids to support, I couldn’t do that … and this was over 10 years ago. The two men agree that things are getting worse. It’s unfortunate - says John, agreeing also that the key word is “funding”. It’s actually going to be worse for us in the future.
They move on to environment and climate change. John wants to know what is going on in Florida. From my point of view - he says, somebody over there is crazy because they don’t seem to realize the waters are rising and yet we see videos of it happening! What about your (future) constituents? Are they ignorant of all this or have they woken up? Where are they at? We want renewables - Chardo replies. He goes on to talk about water legislation in the City of Longwood where he lives - they had black water there, and the water crisis/catastrophe across the country. Flint (Michigan) is one of tons of counties and cities where our water system (and older infrastructure) needs to be looked at and by moving to a renewable energy grid, we actually can create 400,000 good jobs I believe, just by doing it in Florida alone. We can take those wind turbines and put them off-shore. We don’t even have to see them! Guess what else we have in Florida? The sun! So yes, my district is ready for renewables. Your district (perhaps) – says John, but it seems that the people in power are not interested at all in that. Chardo agrees – adding that with oil companies funding their campaigns why would they be interested in something that was good for the people. Exactly – replies John.
Laura asks (Alpha Greyknight’s) question about the hydrocarbon industry and how Chardo plans on battling climate change - although Chardo has answered much of it already. One of the things we see – the latter says, is that we need the legislation in place. There is a great Act right now, by Tulsi Gabbard in Hawaii’s Congressional District 2 called the OFF Act (H.R.3671). It’s about taking us off of Fossil fuel and our dependence on it - and off of the financing of same. We are learning about creating incentives; the Commerce power that Congress has and which we can use to regulate; and about taxing and spending … So, if we start spending for the general welfare, we can frame (things) in such a way to make sure as not to run afoul of the Constitution. This is one way to spend for the welfare of the People by creating a renewable energy system that serves them. Our Congress does things like telling schools that if they adopt a certain program then they’ll receive X amount of federal money, or in other cases if they don’t do certain things they will receive federal money. We do have a platform plank regarding moving us off of fossil fuel and we have aggressively said that we want this done in 10 years. We still have to work the kinks and the bugs out and that’s why we have research teams to dig into all this. My research team is doing so - very thoroughly! I just got a briefing not too long ago about the number of jobs we’re actually going to create in Central Florida. I’m away from home - Chardo tells us, or I’d be able to give you more detail. They laugh. John says that as Chardo already has more knowledge than he would ever get asked on MSM, that that’s fine. He adds that the renewables industry should get the same subsidies that the fossil fuel industry has been given, but that the real issue is fighting the corporate interests that control the politicians and replacing those same politicians. That’s part of why you are connected with not only Brand New Congress but also Justice Democrats, because the pooling of power is how we can affect change at a higher level - John says. Chardo agrees. The reason that we don’t have legislation right now that serves and is in the best interests of the People is (of course) because many of our politicians serve the interests of those donating to them. Have you ever heard of one corporation that gave any money without considering their bottom line? If so, they’re probably bankrupt. Corporations don’t spend just for the good of something. Most of these corporations that are playing in our politics, are playing for a reason. They are playing for their interests. The oil company pays to get someone elected so that when there is oil legislation to be passed they know that they have (a) legislator in their pocket. The corporate bail system (spent) close to $300,000 from 2010 to 2016 on lobbying and campaigns. I’m talking about in Texas, Florida and (Arizona). They spend less elsewhere, but they spend in every State. So you’re right, it’s (all about) getting those corporations out of our politics because the government is supposed to be for the people and to work for us too. Justice Democrats and BNC candidates are running with that in mind. That’s why we aren’t taking any (corporate money).
John makes a plea to everyone in the audience now and watching later to donate or volunteer for the campaign in whatever way they can … by becoming a member of Our Revolution and phoning with their awesome banking app from anywhere, for example. These people don’t have MSM or billions of dollars tucked away and corporations ready to make them a lapdog … which brings us - he says, to a comparison with the person you are running against.
Slide: Stephanie Murphy tries to claim the Center. Mike Miller (who is also running against her) looks to tie her to Pelosi.
“Murphy has also been playing up her centrist credentials, including being part of the Blue Dog Coalition and co-chairing the Democratic Caucus National Security Task Force.
Under then President George W. Bush, Murphy worked as a national security specialist in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In recent days, Murphy joined with Republicans in voting to pass “Kate’s Law” which cracks down on sanctuary cities.”
Kevin Derby, Sunshine State News.
John wonders whether Stephanie Murphy is family with Joe Manchin or something. Chardo laughs but says that he respects her. You have to respect your opponent – he continues, because when you don’t is when you lose. I used to be a boxer. I will always respect my opponent. John comments that as he’s not running he (personally) doesn’t have to, but he gets it. He laughs and Chardo smiles and tells us that he understands because if he were a centrist, then he’d do everything to stay in the center. However in the center – he says, you don’t really stand for much. You’re not committed to anything. There is nothing that you would be willing to give your blood, sweat and tears to. I am staying where the people are served. I served this country because I believe in this country. I have also volunteered my time (and) service to individuals less fortunate than many of us. That’s what’s important and I believe in those things. The idea of freedom, justice, equality and ending mass incarceration is hugely important to me, so if that means that I’m on the left then that’s where I’ll be and my votes are going to reflect that.
Slide: Murphy criticized for Husband’s company manufacturing in China:
“A spokesman for the company said the company uses multiple manufacturing facilities in the USA and abroad.”
“Given that 97% of the garments sold in the U.S. are made overseas, we are proud of our ability to produce domestically” - Josh Pollack told the Tampa Bay Times.
The only reason I bring this up - says John, is that this is typical of an Establishment candidate or Representative. They say one thing, but in life they practice another way. I’m sure she is going to claim to be for small business, but (look where) her husband’s stuff is manufactured. I love the response here … I’m proud of our ability to produce a ridiculously small amount of shit here. People in China are making cents an hour to work. This goes right back to investing in us (too). We are going to have automation (anyway). How do we prepare for that – especially in Florida? Chardo figures that having the garments made overseas is cheaper and that Stephanie Murphy’s husband is thinking about his bottom line, but how can Stephanie Murphy say that she’s for serving the people if she (is for) sending the jobs overseas. I don’t understand that – Chardo says. I need to look more into all of this. You mentioned automation? If we were to bring these jobs back – John says, the cheapest way to accomplish this would be to have a robot make this stuff. We are looking at a lot of jobs that are ending. That’s part of the problem for instance with coal jobs … it isn’t just because fossil fuels (are on the way out) but because these jobs can be done by a robot. Chardo agrees and says that some jobs can’t be and we need to focus on keeping those jobs here. Besides – he says, so many people die in those textile factory fires. These people are working non-stop, and we’re profiting off of them. We are contributing to a human rights violation.
Melissa in Vermont has another question. She wants to know what you think about the tax breaks that corporations get when they come to a city promising jobs. Some pay no tax and don’t even bring in many jobs. Is that an issue where you are and what would you do about it. Chardo hasn’t looked into that yet (11/06/2017). It is not a hot issue in his district – he says. I’m willing to look into it (though) because that is BS. If you’re coming with the promise of creating jobs and you’re not doing that, and we’re (still) giving you tax breaks (then) that’s almost criminal and (un)ethical in my opinion. John mentions that there are a lot of deals that corporations are making – like the one in Wisconsin which does nothing for the State, but a lot of good for Paul Ryan and Foxconn. Apple computers just did another such deal where the taxpayers end up paying for their construction.
John goes (back to) talking about Stephanie Murphy - the incumbent:
Slide: Campaign Committee & Leadership PAC Combined Fundraising for 2017-2018:
Last report 09/30/2017 … raised $997,527.
Slide: Top Contributors 2017-2018: Emily’s List; New Villages Group; AmeriPAC (The
Fund for a Greater America); PAC to the Future; No Labels…
Slide: In comparison, Scott Sturgill (R) raised $206,395; Mike Miller (R) raised
$156,376 and Chardo Richardson (D) raised $11,718.
In the case of one Republican - I believe it’s Mike Miller, it seems to be mostly his own money - John says. We see these amounts – he says. We’ve seen the wins happen with less than this. It depends on the (race). Here we are dealing with someone who is very difficult to unseat because of money. You have - John says, the best opportunity at this point though because of what has been going on in your area. They speak about hurricane Maria and its impact on Chardo’s district. They lost power for 7 to 10 days we are told. In Seminole County, UniServ - the public schools’ union that I work with, gathered together with (audio issues) the Seminole County Educators’ Union, Care Florida, Organize (Now) Florida, Jobs with Justice ... and we just went out and helped to feed people. We literally had a cookout. Nice – says John. We basically did everything we could to help people who didn’t have electricity – Chardo says. There is still debris (visible) in some areas. What was interesting though was that I didn’t see many politicians doing anything other than telling people to just give those people money, or donate to this or that. We want to see the politicians on the ground. If they really care about the people, then they should get out there and do something for them. I am not targeting all politicians - Chardo specifies, because some of them do. However if there is a crisis like that, then you shouldn’t be looking to your local teachers’ union to provide food for the community or to deliver it to those who can’t make it to a particular spot. We should be (able) to look to our leaders to do that. That’s how I see it – says Chardo. Absolutely - says John. We have seen a complete failure of our leadership to really give a shit about many of the disasters (including shootings) that are happening. We have seen a complete tossing of the Constitution and turning the other way by members of our own government, MSM … John then goes on to tell Chardo that he and those that took charge of the situation ARE the leaders. We are going to replace everybody who claims to be a leader right now. The Leader of our Nation went and threw some paper towels at Puerto Rico. That was his response!! We can all do better than that! I commend your effort. I commend the fact that you went out and got off your ass and actually did something - and you’re not even being paid for it yet. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s called public service - says John. I’ve worked a lot without pay - says Chardo. (I’ve been in) poverty for nearly 4 years and still served my community. I was putting in 60 hours a week at the ACLU - volunteering. They weren’t paying me to run (4) counties. That was just my steam and passion. That’s how far I’m willing to go to serve people and to stand up for what I believe in and what’s right. (After that) running a campaign is simple. It’s easy because I know that the courage that I have is enough to propel me and to keep me getting (up and) going because the American people need that. It’s not a choice any more. I’m not willing to wait 10 more years for an end to mass incarceration or 4 more years for Medicare for All. I’m not willing to wait for a clear path to citizenship and I’m not going to wait for women to get equal pay for equal work. I’m just not going to wait any more – Chardo points out.
That was just badass – says John. Will you come back? Absolutely – Chardo replies. It’s late here and I’m so honored that you would give me your time, which is the most valuable thing in the world. The feeling is mutual – John responds. Anybody who is running and continuing to work a job … it’s impossible! I wouldn’t do it. So thank you for doing so.
John asks all Progressives out there to help Chardo, BNC or to join any one of the progressive organizations. Chardo’s choice of outro is Pharrell Williams’ “Freedom”. He tells us that he always visualizes every race, creed, gender … with their fist in the air when he hears the song. The links are in the video description. Good luck on August 28th, 2018 Chardo Richardson!