Gay Candidates Face Off in Broward Primary

L-to-R, Benjamin Lap, Ken Keechl, Chip LaMarca

There will be a primary election in Broward County.

The race to watch in District 4 is beginning to take shape with openly gay Democrats Benjamin P. Lap and Ken Keechl vying for an opportunity to face incumbent Chip LaMarca, a Republican.

SFGN spoke with Lap recently in a telephone interview. He sounded confident and ready to campaign with a key understanding of the issues affecting residents of his district.

“I can accomplish things and make improvements to Broward County,” Lap said.

A biotech entrepreneur, Lap, 56, is no stranger to politics. He has raised money across the nation for Democratic candidates at all levels of office. He feels his executive experience and take charge attitude are reasons why people in Broward County’s District 4 will support him.

“My business and legal background is my strength,” Lap said. “I started my own biotech company and it’s up and running. I’ve also been a mediator — a mother hen if you will — with the U.S. Treasury. I have effective and useful skills.”

The Broward County Commission is a governing body of nine elected officials. LaMarca, a lifelong resident of the district, was elected to the seat in 2010, defeating Keechl, who served as commissioner since 2006.

“If you are going to complain about things, you gotta put yourself out there,” Lap said.

Lap raised a number of issues during his chat with SFGN, issues he said would be part of his platform. He would like to see the county raise its minimum wage for workers, describing himself as a “progressive candidate for a fair wage.”

Lap acknowledged traffic and infrastructure will be important issues that come before the commission and said he “can weigh in on it.”

“From a less reactionary to a more long term vision perspective,” he said of his planning credentials.

Lap founded BioSentinel Inc. in 2003 and currently serves as chairman. He was raised in Florida, is a graduate of the New York University School of Law and holds an M.B.A. from the Chicago School of Business. He received his Bachelor’s degree with honors from Wesleyan University in 1978.

Of his primary opponent, Keechl, Lap said, “He’s had his chance. The record is there.”

The primary is scheduled for Aug. 26, with the general election to follow in November.

Keechl was Broward County’s first openly gay mayor. The former commissioner has already kicked off his campaign, and will be hosting a fundraiser on March 12 at the Fort Lauderdale home of Coleman Prewitt and Mark Conaghan.

SFGN will provide news updates on the race as it unfolds.


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