Attorney and Wellington resident Jeffrey Siskind hopes to be elected as Florida’s next attorney general. Running as an independent candidate, Siskind believes that his non-partisan candidacy will ultimately allow him to win in November.
“I do not think that the attorney general position should be filled by anybody with partisan connections,” Siskind told the Town-Crier. “I don’t mind partisan politicking at the federal level, but I think it should be a lot less important at the state and local levels, and nonexistent at the community level.”
As the only independent candidate, Siskind will be the only other name on the ballot with the winners of the upcoming Democratic and Republican primaries next month. Technically, he will be listed as “NPA,” which stands for “no party affiliation.”
“I was born a Democrat, I then matured into a Republican, and eventually began to think that I had enough understanding of issues to make independent decisions,” Siskind explained.
With bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University, and a law degree from Southwestern University, Siskind’s career in law dates back 20 years. He began his career in real estate law and eventually evolved into a litigation focus.
Siskind has lived in Wellington since 2001, where he and his wife, Wellington Councilwoman Tanya Siskind, are raising their three children, Samantha, Jack and Scarlett.
His wife, Siskind explained, served as his primary influence in his decision to run for attorney general.
“My observance of Tanya’s work [on the council] gave me the idea that I was acclimated enough to things political, to put my foot in the water,” Siskind explained.
Along with the influence from his wife, Siskind had one other big push this year that ultimately led him to decide to run for office: the deadly school shooting on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“Prior to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, I had become more politically astute, but the gun [violence] really became the final straw,” Siskind said.
Siskind explained that the school shooting — along with the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando — forced him into a whirlwind of thought about ways in which gun violence could be addressed. Gun control has since become a foundational aspect of Siskind’s platform.
“I think I have a solution for gun control and getting semi-automatic weapons off the streets — which is the use of gun clubs,” he said. “This is sort-of an out-of-box idea, but [the central idea of the gun clubs] is that non-law-enforcement citizens would be able to keep their automatic weapons in secure facilities to be used at those secure ranges [only]. The clubs would serve as a perfect place for enthusiasts to enjoy their love of firearms without putting the rest of the public at risk. Personal protection weapons wouldn’t be reformed, people would still be able to keep those at home, but I am against open carry.”
Acknowledging the diverse ideas and opinions on guns and gun control in Florida, Siskind believes his idea of encouraging and establishing gun clubs would allow the public to continue using firearms in a safer and more responsible manner.
“Gun control is certainly cause for a lot of division, but this gun club idea might just become popular and take many of the dangerous weapons out of circulation, without depriving people of the right to own and use them,” Siskind explained.
Another main goal for Siskind would be to work on ways to promote a statewide method to increase support for and community involvement in Florida schools.
“An [important] conversation is how we can provide means through which our communities can embrace our schools,” he said. “I’d implement what I call an educational center of excellence program.”
Siskind’s proposed educational centers would entail forming a unique strategy to benefit schools so that they become and remain vital parts of all cities and towns across Florida, and in turn receive necessary volunteerism, participation and respect from the public.
Essentially, this would combine all beneficial aspects of schools to be part of a larger strategy to provide more meaningful output, he explained.
“By doing this, we would be able to join our schools with our surrounding communities,” Siskind said. “The goal is to make schools an essential part of the community.”
Along with his proposed focus on gun control and school safety, Siskind hopes to be elected in order to focus on prominent issues affecting Florida, such as the opioid and heroin epidemic, elder abuse, law enforcement and fire-rescue benefits, healthcare, faulty property insurance and environmental issues.
When asked what Siskind could bring forward as attorney general, his answer was mainly centered on increasing and encouraging community collaboration.
“Florida is very diverse. There is a huge difference between Miami, West Palm Beach, Orlando and the Panhandle because what works in one corner of the state is not necessarily what works in another,” he said. “Solutions to big issues are best determined at the local level, and a good attorney general will tend to the duties of his or her office, while always being open to the ways in which the office can interact with other state agencies and community-based organizations to bring about positive change.”
Siskind aims to implement what he has watched and learned from Wellington’s tight-knit community across other communities in the state.
“I believe that I can convey my positive experience in Wellington to communities across the state,” he said. “We have a well-intentioned and compassionate council and a wonderful and caring staff in our village government. I’m not saying that we don’t make mistakes, but I do think places like Wellington should serve as a model to a lot of other places in the state.”
Siskind’s hope is that his ideas and beliefs will allow him to make a difference and start important conversations as Florida’s next attorney general.
“I hope people will vote for me in November, as I hope [the public] will recognize the value of my ideas and demand more from an attorney general than just running an office,” Siskind said. “The attorney general must have an ear to the ground and be open to change, while adhering to the mandate of the office, which is to serve as the state’s highest chief law enforcement officer.”
Incumbent Attorney General Pam Bondi is leaving due to term limits. Tampa State Rep. Sean Shaw (D-District 61) and Tampa attorney Ryan Torrens are seeking the Democratic nomination, while Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Ashley Moody and Pensacola State Rep. Frank White (R-District 2) are seeking the Republican nomination. The winners of the Aug. 28 primaries will join Siskind on the November general election ballot.