Orlando Candidates Lawanna Gelzer, Aretha Olivarez Go Grocery Shopping On Minimum Wage

Lawanna Gelzer (l) & Aretha Olivarez
Lawanna Gelzer (l) & Aretha Olivarez

Orlando City Commission candidates Lawanna Gelzer and Aretha Olivarez will go grocery shopping while living on minimum wage for five days to demonstrate the difficult choices low wage workers have to make each day while trying to stretch $17 a day for all of their basic needs, including food.

Elected officials and candidates will live on Florida’s minimum wage this week so they can see for themselves how incredibly difficult it is to survive on $8.05 an hour. The Minimum Wage Challenge is an initiative to experience first hand the every day challenges of Florida’s underpaid workers.

“I accepted the challenge because I personally know community and family members who make minimum wage and it’s tough to see. People are struggling with basics needs, and that’s why we all need to fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour,” said Aretha Olivarez, candidate for Orlando City Council District 4.

“Too many Orlando residents are scraping by on the minimum wage even though we are the tourist capital of the world,” said Lawanna Gelzer, candidate for Orlando City Council District 6. “I’m taking the minimum wage challenge to emphasize the difficulties and challenges facing our community due to low wages and inaction from our current elected officials. Orlando should not be the lowest paying metro area in the nation while being #1 in tourism. Orlando can do better and must do better for our workers and our families.”

The “Minimum Wage Challenge,” launched on September 28 is designed to highlight the need to raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour and push elected officials to do everything they can to make $15 a reality for Florida’s working families. On October 12, the second round of the challenge launched with 16 local elected officials and candidates taking part. The list of local legislators and candidates taking the challenge is below.

This past September 17, State Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, and Rep. Victor Torres, D-Orlando, called on legislators to sign onto their respective $15 minimum wage bills SB6 and HB109. Both bills call for an increase to the state’s current minimum wage from $8.05 to $15 an hour which is quickly becoming the new standard nationwide.

Thanks to the Fight for $15, underpaid workers are racking up victories across the country, including $15 minimum wages in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as $15 for fast food workers in New York State and $15 for home care workers in Massachusetts. In California, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and the University of California system announced it would raise pay to $15 an hour for its direct and subcontracted workers. And a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in the District of Columbia was certified for the 2016 ballot. Meanwhile Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
List of Candidates and Local Elected Officials Taking the Minimum Wage Challenge

Local Elected Officials

  1. Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade County
  2. Mayor Phil Stoddard, South Miami
  3. Councilman Steve Kornell, St. Petersburg
  4. Guido Maniscolco, Tampa City Councilman
  5. Scott Randolph, Orange County Tax Collector


  1. Grace Solares, Candidate for City of Miami Commission District 2
  2. Lisa Wheeler-Brown, Candidate for St Petersburg Council
  3. Susanna Randolph, Candidate for CD 8
  4. Pat Kemp, Candidate for Hillsborough County At Large
  5. Mike Reedy, Candidate for FL House 63
  6. Naze Sahebzamani, Candidate for FL House 59
  7. Carlos Guillermo Smith, Candidate for State House 49
  8. Aretha Olivarez, Candidate for Orlando City Commission Dist 4
  9. Lawanna Gelzer, Candidate for Orlando City Commission Dist 6



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