Each month Eye on Jacksonville tries to focus on a conservative activist in the area who is striving to make the community better. For July our Citizen of the Month is one of Eye’s own writers, Debbie Gonzalez.
Gonzalez hails from upstate New York. She joined the U.S. Navy as a high school senior and served in Oceana, Orlando, Memphis and back to Oceana, where she met her husband-to-be, Juan. They were married in 1993 after he was transferred to Cecil Field NAS and she followed, choosing not to re-enlist at the end of her term.
She worked for Grumman but was laid off a year after her marriage. She and her husband were sent to California, then Japan for eight years before returning to Jacksonville.
She returned to school with the intention of becoming a schoolteacher. But after getting an associates degree and becoming an intern at a Jacksonville school, she changed her mind.
When she saw one child sleeping through every class and mentioned it to a teacher, the teacher told her the boy wasn’t going to graduate anyway, and told her to let him sleep. On another occasion there were girls dressed like streetwalkers, yet the teacher not only didn’t correct them but actually “flirted” with them, according to Gonzalez.
Gonzalez lost interest in becoming a teacher and went to work for Americans for Prosperity. She ended up traveling throughout the state giving lectures on the problems with education.
A few years later, Eye on Jacksonville founder Billie Tucker co-founded the First Coast Tea Party. Gonzalez joined and began writing on the organization’s blog.
Now she is a writer for Eye as well. Her niche is to rely heavily on in-depth research of issues, but she says she doesn’t let her writing get bogged down with numbers and data. “I try to make complicated matters simple for the average person, using analogies everyone can relate to,” she said.
Gonzalez follows civic affairs and politics closely, especially in her home area of Clay County. Other time she spends gardening or in activities with her husband, who now is retired from the Navy.