In a town of barely 2,000 residents two men in the LGBT community are facing off against each other for a seat on the town council.
Daniel Sohn, 29, is the incumbent, and was first elected to the Haverhill City Council Seat 2 in March of 2018 becoming the first out politician in the town’s history.
“I care about these people. I feel like I’m their only voice on this council,” said Sohn, who identifies as bisexual. “I want to continue fighting for them."
Meanwhile Ray Caranci, who works for the City of West Palm Beach as a landscape planner, is challenging him.
“I have always been involved with the town. I’ve contemplated [running] for a while,” Caranci said. “I want to do my public service.”
It’s rare for there to be contested elections in the town, but this year both seats up for grabs have two people running.
In Haverhill the saying, “every vote counts” couldn’t be more true. In 2018 Sohn received 47 votes while his opponent received 29.
The two main non-partisan LGBT rights groups have split their endorsements with the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council choosing Caranci, and Equality Florida choosing Sohn.
“Equality Florida Action PAC has endorsed Councilman Daniel Sohn in the 2020 election for Haverhill City Council. Our endorsement standard is to support incumbent elected officials who have fought for LGBTQ equality while in office,” said Joe Saunders, Senior Political Director for Equality Florida. “Commissioner Sohn has been a frequent and vocal advocate for policies that affect the lives of LGBTQ Floridians and has regularly used his platform as a local elected leader to call on lawmakers in Tallahassee to pass comprehensive nondiscrimination protections.”
Caranci, 59, has been with his partner for 31 years and has lived in the town for 15 years.
Two of the issues that are important to Caranci are public safety and common-sense code enforcement.
“It’s a small town,” he said. “It’s difficult to find qualified people to take these positions on the town council.”
As for why he’s running, especially when an out politician already occupies the seat he said, “I think a resident should be in the council seat.” He did not explain further.
Rand Hoch, president of the PBCHRC said his organization interviewed both candidates and felt Caranci would accomplish more if elected.
“He’s a great guy. He’s smart. His heart is in right place,” Hoch said. “And he’s lived there for years.”
In 2018 PBCHRC endorsed Sohn for the seat.
Sohn recently made history when he married his partner in the Florida Capitol building in Tallahassee, the first time a same-sex marriage had been performed there.
According to Sohn his time on the council hasn’t always been smooth sailing.
“I held my colleague’s feet to the fire and they didn’t like that. I forced them to become more active than they have been. I’ve challenged their way of thinking,” Sohn said. “I’m not a rubber stamp politician. I'm not a ‘yes’ man. I want to continue be that lightning rod for change.”