If you snooze, you lose.
This is the basic message from gay candidates to their constituents. Not voting, is essentially, a vote for the current oppressive Republican regime in the State of Florida.
“It’s vital that each person turn out and vote,” said Scott Herman, candidate for the Florida House of Representatives in District 93. “Failure to vote means that you only support whoever ends up winning.”
And if Democrats, like Herman, do not show up in large numbers throughout South Florida, that means the odds of Florida Governor Rick Scott being re-elected are good. For gay couples, Republican policies under Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi have not been favorable. Bondi, for example, has consistently defended the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, at taxpayers’ cost, despite federal judges and circuit courts around the country ruling such bans were unconstitutional.
“Yes, we have come very far, but there is more to be done,” said Ken Keechl, a gay candidate for Broward County Commission.
Keechl is seeking to return the Commission after serving district four from 2006-2010. If anyone knows how important voter turnout is it’s Keechl, who was swept out of office by the Tea Party wave in 2010.
This time around, Keechl is confident and says it feels more like 2006 than 2010, even though redistricting has made his district more Republican.
“It’s primarily a coastal district,” Keechl said.
The district is currently represented by Chip LaMarca, the lone Republican on the Broward Commission. LaMarca has the endorsement of the Sun-Sentinel, but Keechl has the endorsement of Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and the Broward Police Benevolent Association.
“I can make a difference,” Keechl said. “A commissioner has the power to influence who gets millions of dollars worth of contracts and I understand the district’s needs.”
Keechl said the county and Republicans like LaMarca can no longer stick their heads in the sand and pretend climate change and environmental issues do not exist.
“I have access to the reports,” Keechl said. “We have to do something to reduce out carbon footprint.”
Addressing transportation woes is part of that equation, said Keechl, Florida’s first openly gay elected county commissioner. Broward’s roads, Keechl said, cannot sustain the increasing population.
At the state level, Herman’s campaign to unseat incumbent representative George Moraitis looks promising if Democrats, particularly the LGBT community, turns out to vote. While Moraitis is not considered a far right, social conservative, Herman says gay people should not take a risk by failing to vote.
“Are you willing to believe that whomever the winner is will have the same interest of your employment protections, marriage and property rights?” Herman asked.
A Rick Scott victory would be disastrous to the Florida Supreme Court, Herman said, with the Governor appointing up to five new justices.
“It is disheartening that our values and principles are considered wrong,” said Herman, who is married and a disabled combat veteran.
In Wilton Manors, three gay candidates are running for Mayor. Current Mayor Gary Resnick is seeking re-election to the office he has occupied since 2008 and faces challengers Doug Blevins and Boyd Corbin. Gay candidates Justin Flippen, Sal Torre, Naomi Ruth Parker and Christopher Warnig are all seeking a seat on the Wilton Manors Commission.
In Oakland Park, John Adornato III has won the endorsement of Equality Florida and the Sun-Sentinel. In Margate, Lesa Peerman, a lesbian, has won the endorsement of the Washington, D.C. based Victory Fund in her bid for Margate Commissioner.
Further south, the Victory Fund is endorsing Florida State Rep. David Richardson (D-Miami Beach) who is unchallenged and will return to Tallahassee to once again represent district 113. Richardson, along with Rep. Joe Saunders (D-Orlando), shattered the lavender ceiling in Tallahassee during the 2012 election cycle. For more on Saunders, see page 3. North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns has also garnered the endorsement of Equality Florida.
On the federal level, David Cox is running for U.S. Congress in Florida’s sixth congressional district. Cox, a director of resources at Bethune-Cookman University, is seeking to become the first openly gay man elected to Congress from Florida. His district stretches along Florida’s northern Atlantic coast from St. Augustine to Daytona Beach.