Column: Giddy for Gillum

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Sitting at last week’s city commission meeting feeling frustrated and tired, the first news on the primary election made me sit up and feel a bit of wonderment.  

About two thirds of the way through the meeting, Mayor Gary Resnick announced that the first round of election results were being posted on the Internet. Let me just take a moment to side track and wonder if the mayor and others are routinely surfing the web as they sit upon the dais looking very fastidious, maneuvering on their iPads. Perhaps they are shopping online rather than scanning the back-up material to the meeting. That material should be read and studied way before the meeting anyway, since they receive the information four to five days prior. However, I will remain thankful for the good news that the mayor shared with those present that night.  

That good news was that Andrew Gillum was ahead in the early election results in the race for the Democratic primary for governor. Wow, could it be? What happened to the favorite, Gwen Graham, or the wealthy businessman Jeff Green, or Philip Levine?  We all had to endure weeks of expensive campaign ads flooding the airways, campaign signs littering every street corner, and mailboxes overflowing with more and more political flyers based on lies and innuendos. How could it be that Gillum could be in the lead? My long-shot favorite racing past the finish line! I needed to know more.  

Not bothering to stay for the commission discussion on the Pride Center’s proposed project that will most likely deplete our Affordable Housing Fund, use a good amount of flex units, and create a challenge for surrounding residents to the already manic daily operations of the center’s campus, I gathered up my belongings and headed out the door. No need to sit around listening to the same old song and dance byR Boo and associates labeling anyone who questions their secretive project as just another one of those NIMBY reactionaries when I could go home and find out more about this enormous upset in Florida politics.  

Let me just quickly say that the toned down version of the Pride Center’s 48 units of senior supportive housing project is a far cry from the originally proposed two phase construction of over 100 units. Having been reduced, having taken parking concerns into consideration, and having to deal with an overwhelming involvement by the surrounding community, this project has now reached a point that is much more acceptable to many in the community. However, there are still many unanswered questions and concerns that need to be addressed. Our mayor and city commission will have the final say. Election years have strange effects on our elected officials, so it will be interesting to see the final outcome.  

Now let’s move on to Gillum. I am still processing his election surprise. This young, progressive, community activist and mayor of Tallahassee is now the Florida Democratic Party’s nominee for the office of Governor of the State of Florida.  I was impressed with him early on in the campaign, listened to him speak at a Dolphin Democrats’ event, and longed for such a person to actually win and serve our great state after eight horrific years of Rick Scott.  

Many thought he did not stand a chance. Many thought that Gwen Graham was the favorite due to her family history, or that late comer to the race Jeff Greene was the best choice due to his ability to spend so much of his own money on the campaign. Philip Levine looked like a good choice to many. These front-runners spent millions on campaign ads, political flyers, and attack ads. The one likely not to be elected, Andrew Gillum, attended community functions, showed up at local events, went to churches, ran on a solid progressive success record, and had the power of youthful volunteers and believers that helped him to victory on Primary night and hopefully on to November’s Election Day. Bravo! 

Now the hard work begins. President Trump, Ron Desantis and the Florida Republican Party will not take this huge victory sitting down. The attacks and scare tactics have already begun and will only get worse before Election Day. As Desantis puts it, “Let’s not monkey this up,” is just a nice way of saying we don’t want this youthful black male progressive in charge. That’s unfortunate, because many Floridians are tired of the lies, tired of the false campaign promises, tired of the connection with Trump and tired of business as usual. This new wave of discontent, especially among younger voters, is shaking up the political status quo in a way not seen in years. It’s about time.  

Andrew Gillum needs our help getting to the governor’s mansion. I have already ordered my Gillum yard sign and donated to his campaign. Please check out his website at AndrewGillum.com, learn more about this amazing candidate, and become active in this election for our next governor. We need a change. We need proactive new leadership to make life here in Wilton Manors and throughout our state just better here.  


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