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Homeless man pulls out of City Council race

Bruce Shawen won't run for District 4 seat because he can't provide permanent address

Photo: Christopher Balogh, License: N/A

Christopher Balogh

He also says he wanted to push the city to examine violence against the homeless, create a tax initiative for small businesses to hire the homeless and create an official position in city government to protect the homeless.

With Shawen out of the race, that homelessness-advocacy position is being considered by another District 4 candidate, Aretha Olivarez.

“I think that would be a great idea to have a homeless consultant, and who better to hold this position [than Shawen],” Olivarez says. “I would love to work with Bruce on something like that.”

Olivarez, who was active in the Navy for nearly 10 years and now serves in the reserves, is a consultant who helps nonprofit organizations.

“I am for the underdogs, and I have a special place in my heart for the homeless,” she says. “It’s ridiculous with what is going on with the homeless in Orlando. We need to see Commissioner Patty Sheehan out.”

When asked about Shawen and Olivarez, William Stevens, Sheehan’s aide, says Sheehan “does not have any comments” because she didn’t want to speak negatively of her challengers.

“If you’d like to ask about her qualifications or reasons she is running, then she’d be happy to answer,” he says.

As for Shawen, for now he’ll concentrate on looking for work: restaurant gigs, pruning trees, hiking up and down Orange Blossom Trail to Semoran Boulevard trying to find jobs. He says he has a bachelor’s degree from Frostburg State University in Maryland, so he may try for some substitute teaching.

“Right now, I am just concentrating on getting off these damn streets,” he says.

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