Dear District 3 Neighbor,

There is so much misinformation and division being spread by my opponent’s campaign that it should cause everyone to be concerned.

First, I want it known that I believe all people should be people of faith. A deep, abiding faith guides a person to live a better life and to live the teachings of their religion. Faith is and will always be a positive, regardless of the faith that one chooses.

Next, let me be very clear, my campaign conducted a scientific poll of a sampling of District 3 voters.  We did not conduct any robo-calls or push-polls in any form or fashion.  It asked positive and negative questions about myself and my opponent, our faiths and our community service.

What has become offensive is the fact that my opponent and her surrogates did not voice their offense or challenge the Orlando Sentinel and Fox 35 when they asked about her faith.  After all, our poll question was based exactly on how the candidate presented herself in both interviews.

Fox 35 asked as the very first question in their interview: “You would make history because you would be the first Muslim American to be elected to Orlando’s City Council.”  After acknowledging that point, my opponent then described herself by saying,”I am a second-generation Muslim American. My parents came from Pakistan, I’m a wife, a mom, and I’m a working mom…” (go to :18 and :45 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3fylZEiFMU)

The Sentinel reported that “Azam said she believed, and the Orlando Sentinel’s archives suggest, she would be the first Muslim to sit on the council.” (http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-city-council-races-orlando-hill-stuart-20170203-story.html)

Now compare her statements about herself to our polling question, which by the way was conducted by a respected Democrat pollster and District 3 resident, Jim Kitchens.  The voters were asked if the following statement increased or decreased the likelihood they would vote for my opponent or if there was no impact.

“Asima Azam is a wife, mom of three and a real estate attorney. She has served on Orlando’s Building and Zoning Board but has never run for political office before.  News reports state that if she won, she would be the first Muslim American elected to the Orlando City Commission.”

If that was divisive, why didn’t she call out Fox 35 or the Sentinel?  If she was offended, why did she repost and publish those interviews on her own Facebook page?  Why didn’t she stop the reporter on Fox 35 when it was the first question she was asked? Why did she not object when it was the headline of the Sentinel article?  The only reason her campaign finds it offensive now is because they think they can stir up political points.

I personally did not consider it divisive when Fox 35 asked the same question. I did not consider it to be divisive when she brought it up to the Sentinel. It is part of her story, much the same way my faith is a part of mine.  Like my opponent stated in her Fox 35 interview, Orlando is a diverse city and has embraced that diversity.  I agree and my record reflects my commitment to diversity as one of our core values.

The fact is this question was intended to find out the qualities voters might find positive about my opponent. It talked about her being a mom. It talked about her public service. It talked about her being a first-time candidate, something I fully recognize voters like these days.

What is divisive is when surrogates of my opponent’s campaign who are in my same party decide to accuse someone of identity politics solely for political gain.  I have not participated in such and have no plans to address this issue again in the future.

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