Rep. Anna V. Eskamani (HD47): first Iranian-American woman lawmaker elected in Florida

By : Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (HD49)
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Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (HD49)

If you haven’t heard the name Anna V. Eskamani, you have probably been living under a rock … especially since Republicans spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in negative ads to portray Eskamani as a vulgar, radical extremist (they actually made her look like a badass in a leather jacket). Voters made history in November by electing Anna as the first Iranian-American to serve in the Florida Legislature, rewarding her with 57 percent of the vote.

Odds are you have heard of Eskamani, who has become a role model for young people across Orlando. You saw her on the cover of TIME magazine featured as one of many women across the country running for public office hoping to make real change. You read in local newspapers about her healthcare expertise as a senior director for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. You watched her lead the Orlando Women’s March or proudly walking in the Come Out With Pride parade at Lake Eola. If not, you more than likely overheard her signature Eskamani-style laugh in person at any number of local community events, since she makes it a point to attend every single one of them.Anna V. Eskamani is an unapologetic champion for LGBTQ equality, women’s healthcare, gun control and social justice. And make no mistake—if you have not heard of Anna, you will. She isn’t just a rising star in Florida politics. She’s a shooting star about to burst through the Florida Legislature at lightning speed. The reason—her intelligence, her command of the issues and her authentic commitment to improving the lives of all Floridians.

When it comes to standing up for equality, this cisgender, straight Iranian-American ally sees herself as more of an accomplice to LGBTQ Floridians. In the recent Vicki Nantz documentary “Uprising: Pulse to Parkland,” Eskamani had this to say: “I’m an ally, but really an accomplice in the sense that I stand next to the LGBTQ community whether we win or lose. I think that an ‘ally’ can sound kind of transactional, which is why I define myself as an ‘accomplice.’”

An accomplice, she is. Eskamani has served as a member of the One Orlando LGBTQ Alliance and has been a stalwart supporter of the Pulse community. Earlier this year, she bravely helped local high school students organize boycotts and peaceful demonstrations at local Publix stores in response to their controversial $670K in campaign contributions to a self-proclaimed “NRA-sellout.”

As her House colleague and friend, I couldn’t be happier to welcome Rep. Eskamani to a Florida Legislature desperate for new energy, diversity and authenticity.

Anna has shown us through the power of her advocacy, her actions and through her good deeds as a community leader just how remarkable she really is.

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