In June, our chair Brian Gunn received a call from a local resident in our district. Her son, Josh, a student at Auburn High School, had a chance to meet our current state Senator when he visited the school, and the impression he left on Josh and his peers spurred them into action: who is running against Phil Fortunato? Was it possible to replace him?
Read about Josh’s encounter with Fortunato in the interview below, and remember: in November, we will have a chance to oust him when he faces off against our endorsed candidate for the seat, Immaculate Ferreria.
31st LD: Can you set up the scenario for your interaction with Senator Fortunato?
Josh: My English/language arts class was starting an unit on argumentative writing and it lined up to start about a week after the shooting at Parkland in February. My teacher thought it best to use the opportunity to use a real world problem in the classroom. Our assignment was to write an argumentative letter that was addressed to the Senator, only a few of which were sent to the Senator for extra credit points. Our assignment was due at the end of March and none of the students noticed a response from the Senator until early May/late April. He was the one to insist on coming in to meet our class.
31LD: Was this the first time you ever met Fortunato?
J: Yes, it was.
31LD: What happened when you met Fortunato?
J: From the second he arrived, it was clear that he wasn’t there to discuss with the students, which is what we expected. Senator Fortunato was very forward and pushing with his own opinions and would shut down anything the students said that he didn’t like. He would go onto tangents that would last for ten minutes at a time.
31LD: What happened when Fortunato spoke to the students at your school?
J: He came in on a Monday. Many students, including me, were absolutely angry over what had happened. After a week passed, no one seemed to want to talk about it. Many of the responses were ‘it happened and we can’t change it.’ I am the only one I know about that spoke out to the media about it.
31LD: What were your overall impressions of Fortunato, as a person?
J: I found Senator Fortunato very immature as he was acting more like a teenager than the teenagers in the room he was speaking in.
31LD: What were your impressions of Fortunato as a representative of our district?
J: I feel as if our current Senator does not reflect the ideals that are found in the area. I’ve grown up in an area that is so very liberal and I have all my life. I know maybe three people in my whole high school who are on the conservative side of the spectrum. Even if it is just the students, the Senator doesn’t want the same things that the people he represents do.
31LD: What qualities do you hope to see in your state legislators?
J: I have one thing and one thing only and it was something Senator Fortunato wasn’t/didn’t do. He didn’t listen to the youth who are the future and the voters in five or less years.