Seasoned political operatives gathered inside a local coffee shop on Thursday, April, 7, to hear from the former chairman of the Broward Democratic Party and leading candidate for Clerk of the Courts.
Mitch Ceasar told a group of mostly gay men from Fort Lauderdale that he would make every effort to rebuild a broken clerk’s office.
“The office needs help,” Ceasar said.
A practicing attorney, Ceasar is attempting to win public office after decades of working behind the scenes as a Democratic party boss. According to the Broward Supervisor of Elections’ office, Ceasar faces competition from five other candidates – Elizabeth McHugh, Brenda Forman, Lisa Ferreri, Shandrall Roscoe and Rubin Young. Of the six, Ceasar has raised the most money -- $174,984 compared to $71,500 for McHugh and $30,075 for Forman, wife of retiring County Clerk, Howard C. Forman.
“Mitch is a great manager,” said Ron Mills, a gay man, who has in the past, served as Broward County’s state committeeman for the Democratic Executive Committee. “He has the managerial skills needed for the job and he has never not put forth the motions.”
Joining Mills at the Fort Lauderdale reception for Ceasar were former Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl, one-time County Commission candidate Ben Lap, local attorney George Castrataro, former Florida GLBT Caucus chairman Michael Albetta and SFGN publisher Norman Kent. Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean J. Trantalis introduced Ceasar to the invited guests.
“Our court system is in complete shambles,” Trantalis, an attorney, said in his endorsement speech of Ceasar. “You cannot leave this task in anybody’s hands. It takes a special talent -- someone who pushes people, who organizes people, has a history of understanding how people work and act.”
Ceasar, a married straight man, proudly displayed a plaque to the group recognizing his participation in a gay pridefest parade circa 1997. Before his remarks, Ceasar told reporters standing up for human rights is a no-brainer.
"I certainly did not do it because it was the popular thing to do, I did it because it was the right thing to do,” Ceasar said.
A member of the national Democratic Executive Committee, Ceasar will have input on decisions made this July in Philadelphia. Chairing a major political party in a South Florida county home to more than two million people has its advantages.
“I’ve known Mitch for many, many years throughout my activity in the Democratic Party,” Trantalis said. “Mitch is a leader and not just for Democrats. He’s reached out to so many groups and built this party to what it is today. Often times this county will turn the entire state.”
Broward’s primary election is scheduled for Aug. 30. Currently, no Republican has filed for the clerks’ position.
With 36 years as a lawyer to his credit, Ceasar said his campaign would focus on treating the public better. He also mentioned his work on committees for the Anti-Defamation League, Urban League and the independent authority which created the Sawgrass Expressway.
“That was the only road in Broward County history that came in six months early and millions of dollars under budget,” said Ceasar, chair of the authority.