City Commissioner Jack Porter said that her office will continue to strive for nonpartisan governance though her recently hired aide, Kristellys Estanga, has ties with several progressive politicians, including Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Gillum.
Estanga told TR that she is committed to transitioning from partisan to nonpartisan governance.
Estanga was born in Venezuela and grew up in South Florida, according to Florida Politics. She received her bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and her master’s degree in urban studies and community development from Eastern University.
Estanga has had a long career working with political campaigns. In the past, she worked for Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign as Director of Community Organizing and Andrew Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign as a regional organizing director. In Jacksonville, she was also a campaign coordinator for Bernie Sanders.
Notably, Estanga was formerly the aide for Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, succeeding Ida Eskamani, the twin sister of Rep. Anna Eskamani. Both Rep. Smith and Rep. Eskamani have become known for their progressive agendas and have been referred to as Central Florida’s “progressive power couple“. Rep. Eskamani also endorsed Porter’s campaign for City Commissioner.
Additionally, Estanga has served as president of the Jacksonville Young Democrats and served on the Florida Young Democrats executive board. Previously, she also worked in various community engagement and coordination roles for the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, the Jacksonville Criminal Justice Behavioral Health Collaborative, LSF Health Systems and more. She also co-founded Brown Girls Can, a political organization that aims to promote proportionate representation in political campaigns.
As Porter’s aide, Estanga will be responsible for administrative work including conducting research and briefing Porter on agenda issues, managing Porter’s schedule and communicating directly with Porter’s constituents. She will also be responsible for handling citizen complaints and coordinating with City departments.
Porter’s campaign, which drew support across party lines, was centered around fighting the status quo and special interests. Porter said she was looking for an aide “that was not tied in with business as usual in local government.” She also looked for a candidate with previous experience in public office administration, and though Estanga’s previous role was different, her administrative experience is useful.
Estanga said so far, one of the biggest challenges facing Porter’s office is “the massive array of power and resources that the insider status quo has at their disposal.” She said another challenge as Porter’s aide is transitioning from her experience with the partisan governance of the Legislature into nonpartisan municipal governance.
“I am committed to it however, and there is nothing more important to me than working across all ideological divides to do the right thing for our constituents,” she said.
Both Porter and Estanga said that political leanings will not be a factor in Porter’s office and that they are committed to working with people of all ideological backgrounds.
Porter said, “Ultimately, the elected official is the one who decides the tone of the office and I will not tolerate any political bias in the administration of my Commission duties. Anyone who knows me understands that working with everyone of good faith regardless of ideology is my highest priority. That’s how I ran my campaign and that’s how I’m running my office.”
“A fresh outside perspective against business as usual was the major theme of the campaign and continues to be in the office,” Estanga said.