Why I’m Running for Congress

I got my first job, cleaning farm stables, when I was 10 years old, and I’ve been working hard ever since. I’ve been fortunate to have many opportunities along the way that allowed me to support a family, build a successful business, and give back to my community.

I’m running for Congress now because Washington is broken. Because of the dysfunction in DC, people have lost their faith in the American Dream. We need members of Congress who are willing to work with everyone to solve real problems, no matter what side of the aisle they’re on.

As a Congressman, I will use my experience building a successful business to help everyone in Florida’s 18th District have the same kinds of opportunities to get ahead that I’ve had.

Bottom line: I am a problem solver.

How I got here

As I was weighing whether or not to run for Congress, I had an experience that made it clear I needed to run.

I’ve long supported Alonzo Mourning and his Overtown Youth Center in Miami. A few months back, I attended a function with many of the children at the center. Towards the end of the event, the kids were asked about their dreams and fears. The first group were young kids, aged 4–11. They talked about becoming a doctor, a pilot, a teacher, going into the military, being an electrician and being a professional athlete. Their dreams were everywhere.

Then the next group, aged 12–18, addressed their fears:

“I’m afraid I wont be able to go to college;” “I wont have a good job;” 
“I wont have a family and own a home.”

Their fears were equally everywhere. It was at that moment I realized we were at a critical point in this country, where the fears of our youth have a far greater chance of becoming reality than the dreams of our young children. That needs to change.

In that moment I knew I needed to do more to ensure everyone has the opportunities they need to succeed.

All the time, I hear people say, ‘if you just work hard you can achieve anything.’ But it’s not that simple anymore. Washington is broken and Congress is failing at its job to give children all across this country real opportunities in life.

Randy with some of Ft. Pierce’s most energetic young constituents!

I’m blessed to have had so many opportunities in my life — but many hard-working Floridians simply don’t have those same opportunities today. These days, it seems like Washington is making it harder for people to succeed, not easier.

I’m running because for many people, my story is no longer possible. We need folks in Congress that are willing to work with everyone, no matter what side of the aisle they are on, to solve real problems.

My story

When Saily and I had our first daughter, I had to leave college and get a job to support our family. I worked nights unloading trucks for Yellow Trucks. It was a union job that paid well enough that I could use my days to start a lawn maintenance company. With the help of small business loans, access to credit, relationships with my banks, and a lot of hard work, we grew our little business into a large regional landscaping company in South Florida.

In 1992, we expanded our company to help clean up communities affected by Hurricane Andrew, and we called the company AshBritt — for my two oldest daughters, Ashley and Brittany.

When we started AshBritt in 1992, we didn’t know what the future held. We started out like so many — living paycheck to paycheck, scraping together enough money to get by. That’s why even in those early days, I understood what a living wage and good benefits meant to a family’s quality of life. These are lessons I have never forgotten. Today, I’m proud to say I pay all of our employees a fair salary, cover 100% of health insurance premiums for them and their families, and fully match their 401Ks.

It is important to me that my business treats our employees the way I was once treated.

Today, we’re one of the nation’s leading disaster recovery companies. We partner with the United States Army Corp of Engineers, states, and local governments to provide disaster response and recovery in Florida and around the country. We’ve executed more than 200 disaster recovery missions and multiple special environmental projects — serving hundreds of clients in Florida and across the country, and helping American communities recover so they can rebuild following disaster.

We have had our ups and downs, but through hard work, timing, and a little bit of luck we have grown our company into what it is today. Sadly, for so many Floridians, my story of working hard and getting ahead is no longer possible.

Randy and Scott Van Duzer of Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian Restaurant in Ft. Pierce

Skyrocketing education and healthcare costs, limited access to credit, and burdensome regulations are making it impossible for many small businesses in Florida to succeed and for regular, hardworking, people to achieve the American Dream. Congress is too busy looking out for themselves and playing political games to get anything done. And that’s got to change.

What I’ll work on

I’ve been a businessman my entire life. I’m proud to say I have friends on both sides of the aisle, and believe my experience working with both Democrats and Republicans makes me best prepared to represent everyone in District 18. However, as non-partisan as I have been my adult life, when I decided to run for office, running as a Democrat was a no-brainer:

  • I am 100% pro-choice.
  • I supported Gay Marriage long before it was legalized by the Supreme Court.
  • I believe our environment is a sacred trust that must be protected.
  • I believe that Social Security and Medicare must be strengthened — not weakened as Speaker Paul Ryan would have us do.
  • I believe that we need to support a robust and universal health care system that expands access for families and individuals to identify and address mental health challenges — especially early childhood intervention.

It’s pretty simple — everyone deserves the same opportunities I had to get ahead.

In Congress, I’ll use my business experience to create jobs here in the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast. We need to help Florida’s small business owners, invest more in early childhood education from ages 0–5, improve educational equality and vocational training, and cut wasteful spending — not the Medicare and Social Security you’ve paid for.

We need to fight for affordable, accessible, and high-quality mental health care services. That means we have to improve early detection, increase awareness and training, and expand access to crucial early intervention services. Obamacare has made a lot of strides, but there’s still real reform needed to increase access to mental health care services and improve early detection for families across the country.

We need to do more for our veterans, who’ve bravely done their part to protect our freedom. As a member of Congress, I will be able to do much more to help the people I have supported through our charitable work. We need to reform the Veterans Health Administration to make sure the men and women who serve our nation get the quality healthcare they deserve.

I constantly hear from politicians that if you work hard, you will get ahead. But when I meet with a working mom who can’t put food on the table, or an unemployed dad who has been looking for a job for years, or a young college graduate who is underemployed, I see something different. America is working hard, but they are not getting ahead. I am running for Congress because I believe it is Congress who isn’t working hard enough to make sure hard-working folks are getting ahead.

This is a seat Democrats can’t afford to lose. That’s why I’m proud that national Democratic leaders have chosen my campaign as one of 21 top-tier, priority candidates they support as part of their Red-to-Blue program.

Will you help me take our common-sense vision to Congress? Washington is broken, and I’m ready to help fix it.

Click here to join our campaign!