10 Faces Behind the Florida Solar Victories

Allie Brown | February 1, 2017 | Energy Policy, Solar

In 2016, Floridians for Solar Choice, a coalition that SACE is a founding member of, made history with two major solar victories. First, Florida voters overwhelming approved pro-solar Amendment 4 during the 2016 August primary, which will remove a property tax on solar installations. In November, the coalition defeated anti-solar Amendment 1, a deceptive ballot amendment created and funded by the monopoly utilities. Despite being severely underfunded and understaffed, the Solar Choice campaign went toe to toe against a $26 million utility-backed campaign and won! The major key to success? People Power! The Solar Choice coalition is composed of thousands of dedicated volunteers from the Panhandle all the way down to the Keys that were willing to go above and beyond to educate Florida voters. While we can’t feature the entire solar army of volunteers, below are 10 superstar volunteers behind these Florida solar victories:

1. David Sillman – New Port Richey, FL:

David has been a dedicated volunteer since the start of Floridians for Solar Choice. He played a key role in educating his community about the YesOn4 and NoOn1 campaigns. David was constantly out in his community passing out flyers and information, and also took the time to write personal emails to his local elected officials requesting their endorsement of the solar ballot issues.

David snaps a selfie while advocating for Yes On Amendment 4 at his local polling location in New Port Richey.

2. Zulay Pastrana – Miami, FL:

Zulay became heavily engaged as a volunteer during the YesOn4 campagin. She created and recording a fantastic training video for volunteers on phone banking for the campaign. Later during the NoOn1 campaign, Zulay organized volunteers in Broward County to educate voters at their local precinct.

Zulay (left) organizing volunteers at a polling location in Broward.


3. Beth Wright – Apalachicola, FL:

By the end of 2016, we’re fairly certain that everyone in Beth’s small town in Apalachicola was educated about the solar amendments. Beth was a tremendous volunteer, dedicating hours to canvassing in her community. She even recored (and paid for) a local radio advertisement educating the Apalachicola area about the utilities’ deceptive amendment.

Here's Beth dressed up as a No on Amendment 1 yard sign for Halloween!


4. Sarah Younger – Palm Beach, FL:

Sarah is a key organizer in her community, spearheading the Artists for Climate Action in Palm Beach. She was a creative powerhouse that always took intitaive on her own, organizing trainings and actions for other volunteers in her community. Sarah even designed and organized a large banner drop near a busy highway during the NoOn1 campagin!

Sarah, as always, showing off her creative side to advocate for the Solar Choice campaigns.


5. Estevan Baza – Tampa, FL:

Estevan pitched in to help with the Solar Choice campaigns in so many different ways. He phone banked, set up a table to hand out information in a busy mall, canvassed in his community, and volunteered at the polls. As a Floridian Firefighter veteran, Estevan was featured in one of our campaign videos speaking up against the utilities’ deceptive amendment.

Estevan canvassing for No on Amendment 1!


6. Rhonda Roff – Clewiston, FL:

Rhonda has been a dedicated volunteer since 2015, from gathering signatures in support of solar power to advocating for No On Amendment 1 at the end of 2016. She was on almost every volunteer call, asking questions and providing helpful insight. Rhonda even worked with her local county commission to pass a resolution in support of our issues.

Rhonda collecting solar petitions in 2015 at a local festival.


7. Tom Scala – Maitland, FL:

If you live in this area, there’s no doubt you saw a yard sign for our various solar campaigns, and that’s thanks to Tom! He drove all across town in his electric car, putting up yard signs and dropping them off at locations so other volunteers and supporters could access them. He was also key to connecting us with a ton of activists in the Orlando area ready to expand solar in Florida. During the YesOn4 campagin, he organized volunteers in Orange County at the polls.

Tom sure racked up the miles on his electric car driving throughout Orlando to hang up yard signs for NoOn1!


8. Linda Bajkowsky, Tamarac, FL:

If there was a local event in Broward, we could guarantee Linda would be there to hand out information about our campagin. She was hungry to spread the word and educate Floridians every chance she had. Linda has been a dedicated volunteer since 2015, and her leadership in Broward was key to the campaign’s success.

Linda (right) educating a voter about NoOn1.


9. Anne Bao – Miami, FL:

A few years ago Anne moved from New York to Florida and was shocked at the barriers to installing solar power in the Sunshine State. She quickly got to work with Solar Choice, attending local farmers markets and later volunteering at the polls – with a newborn in tow! Anne is continuing to play a key role as a volunteer into 2017, and we are excited to have her on board!

Here's Anne advocating for NoOn1 at her local poll with her newborn. That's dedication!


10. Ray Osborne – Cape Canaveral FL:

Ray was one of the most dedicated and proactive volunteers in Brevard County! He located distribution centers for yard signs, hosted volunteer trainings, and organized canvassing events in his community.

Ray (center) visiting Unity of the Space Coast to educate the congregation about our solar issues.


These inspiring Floridians demonstrate that with hard work, people power can beat big money! SACE is beyond grateful to all of the amazing Solar Choice volunteers who made the solar victories of 2016 possible. But the battle isn’t over. As we enter 2017, the fight to expand solar power continues. You can sign up to volunteer here!

Allie Brown
Based in Atlanta, Allie works on promoting clean energy throughout the region, focusing on volunteer outreach, grassroots campaigns, and online engagement. She helped lead the Floridians for Solar Choice volunteer…
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