The campaign for Florida House seat 92 is heating up with incumbent representative Patricia Hawkins-Williams fending off allegations of anti-LGBT views.
Broward County human rights activist Michael Rajner is blasting Hawkins-Williams across multiple social media channels, declaring Hawkins-Williams unfit for office and demanding she drop out of the race. Rajner is particularly dismayed by the endorsement Hawkins-Williams received from the Christian Family Coalition, a hate group, he said.
“She, like the Christian Family Coalition is hostile toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and believes it should be legal to discriminate against us because we are LGBTQ+,” Rajner posted on Facebook on Aug. 16.
The primary election takes place Aug. 28.
House district 92 covers eight municipalities in Broward County: Pompano Beach, Oakland Park, Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Lauderdale Lakes, Margate, North Lauderdale and Tamarac.
Paulette Armstead, Hawkins-Williams’ opponent, is a lesbian.
Armstead, 68, a distinguished retired law enforcement officer and attorney, shrugged off the controversy, telling SFGN, “I don’t get caught up in the personality stuff.”
The personality stuff reared its ugly head at last month’s Dolphin Democratic club meeting. As endorsements were decided, Rajner took issue with Hawkins-Williams’ behavior.
“She stood there with a nasty attitude and never once said hello to anyone,” Rajner said.
Dr. Rosalind Osgood, a Broward Schools board member, rushed to Hawkins-Williams’ defense.
“That’s just Pat,” said Osgood. “She can be a stern type of person. Let’s just say she needs some people skills.”
Armstead called the scene at the recent Dolphin Democrats meeting a “distraction.”
“I don’t have any comment on Patricia’s attitude there,” Armstead said. “I didn’t see her.”
Armstead said she is focused on her campaign and meeting voters. She finished third in this district in 2016, but picked up the endorsement of the Dolphins last month. Armstead said her campaign is gaining momentum.
“You gotta keep moving,” she said.
Armstead said lowering the cost of prescription medicine and bringing more affordable housing to the district are important issues and are 2016 campaign promises that Hawkins-Williams hasn’t delivered on.
There are no Republicans in the race for house seat 92 so the winner of the Aug. 28 Democratic primary will take the seat. Hawkins-Williams, 52, defeated Armstead in a four person field in the 2016 election. This time, Armstead has what she called a “glowing” endorsement from the Sun Sentinel.
The newspaper said Armstead is a “smart, thoughtful and persuasive about issues facing this minority district. A semi-retired attorney, she demonstrated in her endorsement interview and questionnaire that she understands the complexity of school reform, gun safety, sea level rise, legislative tactics and more.”
SFGN has made repeated attempts to speak with Hawkins-Williams, contacting her Tallahassee office and personal cell phone.
Representative Bobby DuBose (D-Fort Lauderdale) said Hawkins-Williams is not anti-gay. DuBose, the Democratic leader pro tempore, is unchallenged in house district 94.
“Patricia is my colleague, I do not know Paulette,” DuBose said. “All I know is she said some things have been taken out of context and she is working on a statement.”
DuBose would not elaborate on what Hawkins-Williams believes was taken out of context in her spat with the Dolphin Democrats.
“It’s not my campaign,” he said, referring further questions to Hawkins-Williams.
Osgood too said Hawkins-Williams is not anti-LGBT.
“That is not who I know her to be,” Osgood told SFGN in a telephone call last Friday afternoon.
Osgood said she has known Hawkins-Williams for years, dating back to their collaborative efforts at the Boyd Anderson Research Center in Lauderdale Lakes. Osgood, a Baptist minister, said she knew one of Williams’ family members identifies as LGBT.
“I never had an issue with Pat when she was in the city,” Osgood said.
Editor's Note: Dr. Rosalind Osgood called SFGN after this story was published to reiterate her support for the LGBT community saying she did not want anyone to think she wasn't an ally. She felt some readers may get that impression after reading this story.