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On Thursday I had the privilege of interviewing Ozzie deFaria, a candidate for Florida’s new 23rd Congressional district (old 20th district). There are hundreds of races in Florida, but Ozzie’s is uniquely different because of his opponent: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Here’s some of Ozzie’s background: He graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in business finance. He began his first job working for AT&T at age 21, managing a group of telephone operators. He spent 14 years with AT&T and gained experience in marketing, management, and finance and at a young age managed AT&T Puerto Rico. Ozzie then went to Harvard Business School for post-graduate work and went on to become President, CEO, and COO of three different companies, all of which were very successful. This, he says, is the reason he is running for Congress; he said, “I think we have too many politicians, and we need to run the government more like a business.” He then referenced this story from Newsmax which discusses the inaccuracy of deficit reports last year– rather than the $1.3 trillion deficit Congress originally reported, the actual numbers were closer to $5 trillion. The unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare, he says, are hurting us tremendously and we must pay them off.
I did a short interview with Ozzie on Thursday night at the official opening of his campaign office.
B: What do you think about the national debt/deficit?
Ozzie: “It’s a shame, because people don’t realize how bad this is. It’s getting worse and worse every day. People look at Europe, and they look at Greece, and they say ‘It’s awful, but it could never happen to us.’ It can happen to us. We need to take it seriously. Every program, someone could justify it; but we just can’t afford everything. We need to get our financial house in order.
B: What have you contributed personally to the economy?
Ozzie: “In running my businesses, and in my work at AT&T… I’ve actually created over 2,000 jobs– probably closer to 2,400– and I have them documented. These are jobs in marketing, customer service, computer programming, engineering. Some of them are high-paying jobs, which is what I think I’m most proud of. In addition, I’ve generated over $800 million to the economy, we’ve increased our businesses, I’ve managed budgets. I think these are significant accomplishments that can really help in D.C.”
B: Why do you think you can beat Debbie Wasserman-Schultz?
Ozzie: I think the biggest reasons are, there’s no one else, in this race or probably in any race– there’s such a huge contrast with me and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. She has spent every single day of her professional career in politics. At the University of Florida, [she was] in student government. She knows nothing about the private sector. I have never been in politics. I spent 26 years in the private sector, in business. I’m proud to say [that] I’m not a politician. I’m going to speak from the heart, I’m going to speak from the truth; if people don’t like it, I’m sorry, I’m not trying to offend anyone, but I want to do what’s right for the country, for my family, and for myself.”
Ozzie deFaria has qualities that we need more of in Washington, D.C.: genuineness and integrity. He doesn’t appear fake or scripted. When he says that he’s going to speak from the heart, he means it. Defeating Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is going to be an uphill battle, and accomplishing it is going to take a candidate who is running for the right reasons. If we have a candidate who is only in the race for name recognition or personal gain, we don’t have a chance. With Ozzie, we don’t have to worry about that. We’ll have a candidate who is not afraid to speak the truth, even when no one agrees with him. We can’t ask for better than that!