Kevin Burns fought for gay and lesbian right decades ago in the City of North Miami. Now Burns is fighting in a crowded field for an open seat in Florida’s Senate.
District 38, a Miami-Dade district, is up for grabs this year after the retirement of Gwen Margolis, Florida’s longest serving legislator. Burns is one of six Democrats vying for the seat.
In an interview with SFGN, Burns said he worked to ensure North Miami provided domestic partner benefits for employees.
“I have a track record of advocating and implementing protections for gay and lesbians in North Miami and in the State of Florida,” said Burns, adding that he was also actively involved in removing barriers to adoptions for gay couples living in the Sunshine State.
Burns, 57, has been with his partner Rob for 31 years. The couple are proud parents of a 14-year-old daughter, Autumn.
“Kevin Burns laid the groundwork for the GLBT community,” said Scott Galvin, Vice President of Education at Junior Achievement of Miami. “He was aware 10 years ago what it took and he got things done.”
Galvin and Burns served together on the North Miami City Council. Under Burns’ leadership, the city built four new schools.
“He knows the community,” Galvin said. “He’s hands on and not pretentious. Everybody likes him.”
Florida’s Senate contains 40 elected members. It is the upper chamber in Tallahassee and Senators serve four years and a maximum of two terms.
“We’re entering a new era of leadership,” Galvin said. The primary winner, Galvin said, must “know how the legislative process works.”
And Burns, Michael Albetta said, is that man. Albetta, past president of Florida’s GLBT Caucus, worked with Burns on statewide issues.
“He has tenure under his belt,” said Albetta. “Kevin Burns will be a great voice in the chamber. He was fighting for our issues when it wasn’t fashionable to be up front and out spoken.”
Albetta notes Burns’ ability to get elected twice in North Miami, a city with a large ethnic Haitian population, is evidence of his commitment to justice for all.
“He represents all the people,” Albetta said. “Look where he came from. It’s a mosaic of people.”
The primary field, in this newly redrawn district, currently stands at Burns, former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora, who’s also gay, former prosecutor Jason Pizzo, state representative Daphne Campbell, teacher Don Feste and businessman Anis Blemur. Galvin praised the work of Oscar Braynon, II, a State Senator who represents parts of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties and said the “ground game” on election day, early voting and collecting absentee ballots are campaign essentials.
The turf is a diverse map of socioeconomics.
“You have the wealthiest street in the United States and some of the poorest streets in the country,” Burns told the Miami Herald.
Campbell is a social conservative known for her objections to abortion. Pizzo has questionable gaps in voting and residency records in the district, but is endorsed by SAVE, South Florida’s foremost advocate for the local LGBTQ community.
For Burns, experience counts.
“They trusted me twice,” Burns said of his two terms as North Miami Mayor.