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Out on the Trail

  • Tim Canova, who is challenging U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary, spoke about the tenets of his campaign at last week’s Dolphin Democrats meeting.

    Canova, 55, a law professor, condemned the influence of big money in political campaigns and stated he is firmly against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). After his speech, Canova agreed to an interview with SFGN, in which he answered questions about his position on medical marijuana, LGBT rights and the giant challenge of taking on Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee.

    “I’m fully supportive of medical marijuana,” Canova said. “I was two years ago in 2014 as well.”

    Florida Governor Rick Scott recently signed an expansion of the state’s medical pot bill (HB 307), allowing access to the plant for patients determined to have terminal conditions and are within one year of death. Canova, however, disagreed with Scott’s regulations.

    “I don’t think it should be that difficult,” Canova said. “I have seen the way medical marijuana has played out in other states. They don’t confine it to just terminal patients. It relieves a lot of pain and a lot of different ailments. The medical science on this is very clear. It is not a harmful drug compared to a lot of prescription drugs that have very serious side effects.”

    Canova is the first-ever primary challenger for Wasserman Schultz, a six-term Congresswoman. Florida’s U.S. House District 23 encompasses parts of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties from Miami Beach to Weston.

  • 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 Caesar 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 Norm Kent. Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean Trantalis introduced Caesar 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.

  • Hillary Clinton will win Florida says former Broward County Democratic Party Chairman Mitch Ceasar.

  • The opponent of a gay man running for public office was arrested Monday, Nov. 30, for felony extortion.

  • Carlos Guillermo Smith, an openly gay man running for the Florida House of Representatives, on Jan. 29, received the endorsement from the Florida Professional Firefighters organization.

  • LGBT supporters of Hillary Clinton gathered in Miami on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon for a get out the vote strategy meeting. 

    “Hillary is a true Democrat,” said Edwin Pagan-Rivera, a flight attendant from Kendall. “Bernie Sanders just became a Democrat so he could run against her.” 

    Pagan-Rivera was one of a dozen self-identified LGBT Americans who showed up for a lunch time gathering on the outside patio of R House, a colorful restaurant, bar and gallery in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District. Dominic Lowell, national LGBT lead for the Clinton campaign, spoke to supporters and encouraged them to make calls, canvass neighborhoods and encourage friends to vote for the former Secretary of State. 

    “This election is too important to risk losing all of the progress we have made for LGBT rights,” Lowell said. 

    Invariably, the conversation shifted to the Republicans and the battle for Florida between front-runner Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.  Rubio, Miami’s hometown product, ramped up attacks recently on the billionaire businessman, calling into question his fostering of violence at Trump rallies. Pagan-Rivera, a member of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party’s Hispanic Caucus, said all of Rubio’s good points are ultimately negated by his loyalty to the Republican Party. 

    “If he would have said, ‘I cannot support him (Trump) as our party’s nominee then that would have made an impact,” Pagan-Rivera said. As for the gay community, Pagan-Rivera said it’s a strong block of support.

    “We vote,” he said. “There’s power in numbers and we must remain united for Hillary.”

  • Palm Beach State College will present retired judge Rand Hoch with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award at the school’s annual MLK celebration.

  • On the local political scene, Equality Florida hosted its annual Broward Gala Sunday night, Nov. 15, at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty Six. Jim Obergefell, lead plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case recognizing same-sex marriage, was honored at the event.

  • The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council released a list of candidate endorsements and at the top of the list is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

  • It’s the return of the Competitive Workforce Act in Tallahassee and this year it just might get a listen.

  • Florida House candidate Carlos Guillermo Smith expressed his opposition to granting permits for firearms on college campuses.