Sen. Bullard was moderator for the panel.
By Derek Joy
The Miami Dade Richmond Heights Chapter of the Red Hat Society and Democratic Committeewoman for District 802 Patricia Harper Garrett held a candidates forum at Second Baptist Church of Richmond Heights.
Assisting the sponsors were community host organizations Iota Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. of Richmond Heights and Pi Delta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority of South Dade with their Young Ladies from Pearl Essence.
State Senator Dwight Bullard, Dem., District 39, was the moderator for the panel composed of Regina Grace, Charlie Anderson and Jesus Medina, who asked specific candidates.
“Voter empowerment really boils down to voter education,” said Bullard. “Too often we don’t do our due diligence to know what’s going on. For those of us who live in municipalities, in Miami Dade County, these are our bread and butter elections. Aug. 26 is when that happens.”
Interestingly enough, while Democratic Gubernatorial hopefuls former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist and former State Legislator Nan Rich were represented at the forum, Re-publican Gov. Rick Scott did not send a representative.
Miami Dade County Com-missioner Linda Bell, District 8, was not present or represented. Her opponent, Daniella Levine Cava, was on hand to answer questions.
“It fuels my passion to fix this county government,” said Levine Cava. “We’ve lost our way. The county is for sale. They’re giving away our tax dollars to rich sports owners, giving away our land. We need to get back to basics.”
Kevin Chambliss, District Director for U.S. Congressman Joe Garcia, Dem., District 26, said the Congressman would continue his fight to improve VA Hospital facilities, get benefits for disabled U.S. Military Service Veterans and teen summer youth employment programs.
Crist was represented by Cedric A. McMinn, who cited Crist’s action as governor to accept economic stimulus funds from the Obama Administration that resulted in saving 20,000 teachers’ jobs. He also cited Crist’s commitment to affordable health care, restoration of rights for ex-offenders and job creation,
Wendy Sejour represented Rich and cited her work for and commitment to education, health care social justice and voting rights.
State Rep. Kionne L. McGhee, Dem., District 117, and State Rep. Perry Thurston, a candidate for Florida State Attorney General, who is seeking to oust incumbent Republican Pam Biondi, were on hand to field questions.
“Florida Attorneys General for the last 20 years have been driven by ideology and not what’s right,” Thurston said. “Instead of accepting $51 billion in Affordable Health Care Act funds to help people of Florida, they chose not to only because it has Obama’s name on it. That’s the only reason.
“We hear Republicans talking about being tough on crime. If you are tough on crime you do things to help people who engage in crime because of drug addictions or the lack of gainful employment. They talk tough because it drives the voting base to the polls.
“You see them trying to legislate drug tests for welfare recipients. That’s a blatant violation of constitutional rights. Why don’t they require drug tests for their staffs, for state contractors and their employees?”
Thurston also cited the need for oversight of the state’s $77-billion budget.
“How many local mayors have been arrested?”Thurston asked. “The budgets of all four of those municipalities don’t equal the $77-billion state bud-get. And you have no oversight. Nobody is overlooking that. Pam Biondi won’t because she’s a crony.”
Limited by the Judicial Canons of Ethics, as Bullard pointed out, the judicial candidates Circuit and County Court in Groups 26, 16, 70, 58 and 36, expounded on the question of what makes them individually qualified to serve on the bench, as did Alex Dominguez, a candidate for the Miami Dade Property Appraiser.
The highlight of the forum came when United for Care Statewide Political Director Katia Saint Fleur Irene Dotson, who suffers with fibromyalgia and other degenerative diseases, to address Amendment 2 (Medical Marijuana) concerns.
“I can tell you the decision should be made by the physician and patient. Medical Marijuana is tremendously beneficial to my degenerative conditions,” Dotson said.