Black American elected officials focus on legislative agenda
By Derek Joy
A new wave unfolds when the Florida State Legislature is sworn in on Nov. 13, 2012.
Consider the top three items on the agenda of Black American elected officials in South Florida – local and state.
Interestingly enough, State Representative Shevrin Jones, Dem., District 101, at 28, will be the youngest member of the State Legislature.
“The three things I want to focus on are education, economic development and small business enrichment,” said Jones, a self described “Nerd” who teaches chemistry in the Broward County School District.
“People recognize good work. They see hard work on their be-half. They believed in me. That’s how I got elected,” added Jones, a bio-chemistry major at Florida A&M University. “I’m humbled by their trust.”
District 101 has some 157,000 residents and covers parts of West Park, Pembroke Park, Hallandale, Miramar, Pembroke Pines and Hollywood.
Then there is District 102, where former Miami Gardens Councilwoman Sharon Pritchett edged former Miami Gardens Councilman Melvin Brat-ton, Sr. This District spans Miami Gardens and parts of southern Broward County.
“I plan to advocate the same things I advocated all along,” said Pritchett. “Child healthcare, public safety and public education among other issues. That’s the core of what I plan to work on, the things I care deeply about.”
Jones and Pritchett, along with all the other Democrats in the State Legislature will have their work cut out for them in an arena dominated by Re-publicans. Pushing their agenda may encounter the typical obstacles Republicans manufacture in order to “Eat what we kill,” as former State Republican Party Jim Greer described what he was told by the high muckety mucks in the Party.
Meanwhile, at the local level, Miami Gardens has a new Mayor in Attorney Oliver Gilbert III, the former Vice Mayor, who thoroughly defeated out-going Councilman Andre Williams and six other candidates.
Gilbert replaces term limited Shirley Gibson, who was soundly whipped by District 1 Miami Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan.
“Right now I plan to focus on economic development, reducing crime and the parks program. Not necessarily in that order,” said Gilbert.
Obviously, the recent spike in violent crimes in Miami Gardens. Shootings have seemingly terrorized outraged an entire city. One shooting after another, drive by shootings, as well as those in regular assaults.
Gilbert and the Miami Gardens City Council definitely have a tough road to hoe. That work will span the federal state and local level.
Locally, Gilbert will have ample opportunity to work with Jordan, who repelled millionaire businessman Norman Braman’s effort to oust her from office by helping finance Gibson’s unsuccessful campaign bid.
Ironically, Gibson has had two failed bids to beat Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, first in the State Legislature and then Congress. Both of those bids, like the latest against Jordan, who staunchly and publicly supported Gibson as Mayor of Miami Gardens.
“I felt betrayed,” said Jordan, when asked how she felt after having supported Gibson only to have an outsider encourage her challenge for the District 1 Commission seat.
“You cannot allow someone from the outside influence you to do something you know you shouldn’t. It just shows I truly didn’t know her character as well as I thought. Her challenge was very surprising.”
As far as her priorities for this term in office, Jordan is very clear.
“I plan to make sure to complete the redevelopment of the Opa locka Airport, increase job development and reduce the explosion of crime. Elimination of crime is a vision. But realistically, I’d like to see better control of crime. Especially violent crime.
“Statistics show Miami Gardens ranks third in the state in violent crime. I’d like to get that under control before it becomes a stigma. I think we can work very closely together. I think we can accomplish more if we work together,” said Jordon when asked about working with Miami Gardens Mayor Elect Oliver Gilbert III.
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