After watching an Orlando city council meeting, I sat down with Commissioner Regina Hill to find out just how wild things in Florida can get. It turns out, nothing rattles her. We talked about Harry Potter, alligators, and more sobering subjects.
Q: If Orlando city council meetings were a ride at Disney World, what would they be?
A.) It’s a Small World
B.) Space Mountain
C.) the boring monorail that takes you around the parking lot
A: It’s most definitely not a “Small World” here at council. And it’s not a boring ride on the monorail. I think it would be Space Mountain, but it’s not a roller coaster. I would call it…adventurous.
Q: Adventurous? Maybe more like something in the Harry Potter theme park?
A: I’m sorry, but I haven’t gone to the theme park. From what I understand about Harry Potter, most of it is magic and illusions. It’s real what we do here.
Q: I once heard from another city council member that they did not ask what they considered “basic” or “stupid” questions in the council meetings because people might judge them. Do you feel the same way?
A: I think to not ask a question does a disservice to our constituents. I am very direct. I say what I mean and I mean what I say.
Q: During your campaign, it came out that you had been arrested as an adult. Do you think people treat you differently in the city council meetings because of that?
A: I mean, of course everyone has opinions. I’m very confident of who I am. I’m making some wrongs right. I try to remember that I am sitting here as someone who has been given this opportunity. I represent hope.
Q: You are in Florida. And the media is full of stories about Florida that are pretty wacky. What is the oddest thing that you have seen at a city council meeting?
A: I’ll tell you, when I’m sitting on the dais, I don’t look at any oddity. What I see is free speech. What might be strange to me is someone’s reality. I think it’s a beautiful thing when people can be themselves.
Q: I respect your respectfulness…but you’re telling me that if you were in the council chamber and an alligator walked in, THAT wouldn’t faze you at all?
A: What would faze me is: how did the security guards let an alligator get in the chambers?!
Q: [Laughs] That is such a good point!
A: Who was the gatekeeper? I wouldn’t be mad at the alligator!
Q: Commissioner, when do you think is the moment when you “made it?” Or do you feel like you have not made it yet?
A: I feel like I haven’t made it yet. But the night I was elected was–outside of becoming a nurse after getting my rights restored–one of the proudest moments that I can recall. Because it was almost like redemption. Even after people said I didn’t deserve an opportunity because of my past. I haven’t stopped working 60-70 hours a week since I’ve been elected. Even in the last year, I haven’t taken time off to grieve my daughter’s murder. It’s not easy being a public servant. But is it worth it? Absolutely.
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