Our afternoon shows will be filled with stories in which our reporters explore issues related to gun violence in the region. Then, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. we'll bring in a panel of local leaders who will provide their thoughts, perspectives and opinions on the news of the day.
These experts include those who are on the front lines when it comes to protecting our community, lawmakers who are responsible for fighting for the concerns of their constituents and those who advocate for students.
Below is a brief introduction of our panel members, listed in alphabetical order. Be sure to go to ClickOrlando.com on Feb. 11 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. to watch the panel discussion and town hall live. You can also fill out the form at the bottom of this story if there's a question you'd like to ask the experts.
State Rep. Thad Altman, (R) District 52
Altman has been representing the Melbourne and central Brevard County area in the Florida House of Representatives since 2016, and he served in the Florida Senate before that. He serves on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, Education Committee
and Higher Education and Career Readiness Subcommittee, among others. He says on his website that he led the fight to prevent the Florida Department of Children and Families from creating a registry of gun owners in the state.
Kevin Beary, News 6 security expert
Beary served for 16 years as the sheriff of Orange County, including when the terrorist attack happened in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, and when three hurricanes hit Central Florida during a 44-day period in 2004. He has a total of 34 years of experience in law enforcement and now works as an indepedent security consultant.
State Rep. Anna Eskamani, (D) District 47
Eskamani is the first Iranian-American to hold any elected office in the Florida. Eskamani represents District 47 in the Florida House of Representatives, which includes parts of Orlando and Winter Park. The University of Central Florida Ph.D. student ran in the 2018 election on a platform that included improvements to affordable housing, making public transit more accessible, expanding Medicaid and fighting for equal rights.
Sherri Gonzales, Mental Health Expert from Children’s Home Society of Florida
Gonzales is the executive director of Children's Home Society of Florida, a foster organization that has been pushing to improve child welfare for decades. Children's Home Society of Florida has been instrumental in enacting legislation designed to protect children's rights. Gonzales has been with the organization for more than 18 years and also has experience with the Florida Department of Children and Families and as a therapist in Sarasota.
Teresa Jacobs, Orange County School Board Chair
Jacobs' new role as chair of the Orange County School Board comes after she served two terms as the mayor of Orange County and two terms as an Orange County commissioner before that. During her campaign for school board chair, she said she wanted to make Orange County schools the safest in the state and remove barriers that prevent students from reaching their full potential.
John Mina, Orange County Sheriff
Mina was at the helm of the Orlando Police Department when the attack on Pulse nightclub happened on June 12, 2016. Now, he serves as Orange County sheriff. His focus in that new role is on reducing the crime rate, improving relationships within the community and increasing transparency in the department. He has nearly three decades of experience in law enforcement.
Mark O’Mara, Attorney
O'Mara is a criminal defense attorney best known for successfully defending George Zimmerman, the man accused of fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Since Zimmerman's acquittal in 2013, O'Mara has gone on to become a legal analyst for CNN and continues to work as an attorney in Central Florida. He began practicing law in the area in 1983 and he served as a prosecutor before becoming an attorney.
State Rep. Carlos Smith, (D) District 49
Smith is Florida's first openly LGBTQ Latino lawmaker. Since being elected in 2016 just five months after the mass shooting at Pulse, he founded and was elected chair of the Florida Legislative Progressive Caucus, which was established to fight for progressive values including ensuring civil rights for all, fighting for environmental protection and promoting inclusion. He has been outspoken in pushing for reforms to the state's gun laws, particularly after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
DeMarcus Womack, Parramore Kidz Zone
Womack is a Bethune-Cookman University graduate student who grew up in the Parramore area. He was convicted on a felony gun charge when he was 18, but since then, he's dedicated his time to giving back to the community and athletics at BCU. Recently, he's held backpack giveaways, field days, bike giveaways and conducted a Christmas play all for the children in Parramore.
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