Check the Vibes Voter Guide: South Florida

Updated: Oct 31, 2018

The 2018 general elections are around the corner and there are candidates running to keep the country going at a healthy sprint, with amendments intended to give us the added energy and motivation for races to come.

Below are the decisions you'll have in front of you if you plan to vote in South Florida.

For governor the options are Democrat Andrew Gillum, Republican Ron DeSantis and Independent Bruce Stanley. Though Stanley provides an option for the racists to say they aren't but instead moderates, his policy positions are not as direct as Gillum's. Gillum, a former Tallahassee City Council member and current mayor of the city, plans to raise the corporate tax rate of the top three percent of corporations in terms of revenue from its current 5 percent to 8 percent. With that additional money Gillum will invest that money into public schools, not only charter schools.

Stanley's positions are also nearly the same as Gillum's.

Though you may not know what Gillum's positions are unless you did your research, attended a rally or spoke to him directly because his television ads sound like he's running for the U.S. Senate. Medicare-for-All, like Medicaid expansion, requires a Florida Legislature that wants to help Floridians have access to affordable healthcare; a governor cannot do this on his own. Even plans to invest in education, different types of job training and infrastructure spending require a supportive legislature.

I spoke to Stanley on Sept. 8 during the Miami Rising for Climate, Jobs and Justice event at Bayfront Park. He made the point that Gillum, in seeking to protect Floridians from gun violence, attacks the NRA instead of focusing on legislation.

This is also a fact: It would be an accomplishment for voters of the state of Florida (or Georgia) to elect its first African-American governor.

Andrew Gillum, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, at the opening of his campaign office in Miami Gardens.

DeSantis promises to continue Republican Governor Rick Scott's agenda, which is safe to say is 50/50 good and bad. However, the bad - like most politicians' bad policy decisions - are not oops-we-didn't-know-that-would-hurt-you decisions.

Scott is termed out as governor and is seeking to continue representing Florida as a U.S. senator and replace Nelson. Though Scott has been in charge of Florida during the state's recovery from the Great Recession of 2007. When Scott was inaugurated in January 2011 Florida's unemployment rate reached 10.7 percent, in January 2018 it was 3.9. Scott will ask for credit, and so will former President Obama, but the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 that brought back the U.S. economy with more than $700 billion was introduced in January 2009, closer to when Scott campaigned than when he got to work as governor.

Scott is another Republican governor in a 20-year domination of Florida by the Grand Ol' Party (My U.S. history high school teacher said it this way, but is it actually the Government Opposition Party?). The results of the GOP's last 20 years in charge of Florida were recently documented by The Tampa Bay Times, but their reign is longer than 20 years. Scott shares the blame for more than $1 billion in cuts to education funding and cuts to the regulatory agencies that would have at least mitigated the blue algae problem.

And finally, when it comes to Scott, who asked for Sunpass?

Sunpass is old-school highway robbery in the 21st century, like when the bandits popped up and told the family there's a cost for travelling on the highway. But the interstates are public roads. We're charged as high as $10 per direction (there and back) for using roads our taxes should already pay to upkeep and expand. Had the governor asked us, and had the lawmakers held him accountable, we'd feel differently. The traffic in South Florida is on I-95 and the 836, and getting to them. However, the construction that is actually expanding highways (I-595 and I-75), is to add more expressways within them to charge us for our movement.

On the Democratic side of the senate race, 18-year incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is seeking reelection for a third term.

Nelson voted for the Affordable Care Act. He isn't among the sponsors of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. However, Senator Bernie Sanders also isn't and voted against the measure citing the Southern Poverty Law Center's "near slavery" description of the bill's wage requirements for incoming immigrants. Nelson voted to confirm U.S. Judge Edward M. Chen, who ruled against President Trump's order to deport TPS holders.

When voters blame the system for what we end up charging each other for goods and services - or when we wonder "what's a deductible," we just want healthcare for our family - the people we should hold accountable for that system are the senators and representatives in the U.S. House.

Depending on your congressional district, which is created by lawmakers at the state level, the options on your ballot for U.S. House are below.

  • Donna Shalala (D) versus Maria Elvia Salazar (R) for district 27.

  • Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) is trying to take Carlos Curbelo's seat to represent district 26.

  • Mary Barzee Flores (D) for district 25 currently held by Mario Diaz Balart.

  • Frederica Wilson (D) is the incumbent for district 24 and has no opposition.

  • For Florida’s 23rd congressional the options are Tim Canova (I), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) and Joe Kaufman (R). Canova had the support of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in 2016, but not in 2018. “I have no idea about Tim Canova,” Sanders told The Miami Herald in 2017. But in 2016 Sanders said of Canova, “his views are much closer to mine.” Schultz led the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign when it allegedly tipped the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton over Sanders. There was one instance of Sanders winning more votes than Clinton but the delegates going in her favor.

  • Theodore Deutch (D) currently holds district 22 and is facing opposition from Nicolas Kimaz (R).

  • Alcee Hastings (D) is the incumbent and Jay Bonner is the write-in candidate.

  • Lois Frankel is the Democratic incumbent for district 21; she has no opposition.

In the Florida Senate: Of the 22 Senators up for re-election, there are six in South Florida - from Palm Beach down to the Keys. State senators serve four-year terms and are limited to two terms.

  • Bobby Powell Jr. (D) for district 30. Powell Jr. is an unopposed incumbent.

  • Lauren Book (D) for district 32. She’s running unopposed and is the incumbent.

  • Gary Farmer (D) for district 34. He’s the incumbent and is running unopposed.

  • David Perez (D) is trying to take district 36 from Manny Diaz Jr.

  • Jason Pizzo is the senator for district 40 already. Pizzo won against incumbent Daphne Campbell in the primary on Aug. 28 as Republicans gave up the district long ago. This is according to Glenna Milberg, anchor and reporter for WPLG-10, during a political forum earlier this year.

  • Annette Taddeo (D-40) What’s interesting about this race is that Annette won her seat in 2017.

  • She didn’t even serve two years so why does she have to run again so soon? Taddeo's opponent is Republican Marili Cancio.

For the Florida House of Representatives: All of the 120 seats in the State House are up for election every two years like the U.S. House.

Palm Beach County

  • Tina Polsky (D-81) is unopposed.

  • Marylyn Magar (R) is the incumbent up against Edward Francis O’Connor (D-82)

  • Though districts 83 and 84 should be up for election, the state’s candidate listing left them out.

  • Ellen Baker (D) is up against incumbent Rick Roth (R) for district 85.

  • Matt Willhite is the Democratic incumbent for 86 who is facing Republican Laurel S. Bennett.

  • David Silvers (D) is the incumbent for district 87 and he’s up against Samson LeBeau Kpadenou, a Green Party candidate.

  • Al Jacquet (D-88); he’s the incumbent and is running unopposed.

  • The incumbent is termed out for district 89. Jim Bonfiglio is the Democratic candidate and Mike Caruso is the Republican.

  • Joseph A. Casello is the unopposed Democratic candidate for district 90.

  • Emily Ann Slosberg is the incumbent Democratic who’s running unopposed in district 91.

Broward County

  • Patricia Hawkins-Williams is the incumbent for district 92; she won the Democratic primary and is now running unopposed.

  • Emma Collum (D) is running against Republican Chip LaMarca and Kelly Milam, an Independent, in district 93.

  • Bobby DuBose (D-94) is the unopposed Democratic incumbent.

  • District 95 has an unopposed Democratic candidate named Anika Omphroy.

  • Kristin Jacobs is the Democratic incumbent who’s running unopposed in district 96.

  • Jared E. Moskowitz (D-97) beat Imtiaz Ahmad Mohammad in the primary and is now unopposed; Moskowitz is the incumbent.

  • District 98 had five Democrats in the primary and Michael Gottlieb won. He’s facing Republican Anthony Joseph Cruz for the seat.

  • Evan Jenne is the unopposed Democratic incumbent in district 99.

  • Joseph S. “Joe” Geller (D-100) is the unopposed incumbent.

  • Shevrin Dion Jones is the Democratic incumbent who’s running unopposed for district 101.

  • Sharon Pritchett (D-102) is the incumbent running unopposed.

  • Cindy Polo (D) is facing Frank Mingo (R) for district 103.

  • Richard “Rick” Stark is the unopposed Democratic incumbent.

  • Javier Estevez is the Democrat up against Republican Ana Maria Rodriguez to represent district 105.

Miami-Dade County

  • Democrat Barbara Watson is running unopposed for district 107.

  • Democrat Dotie Joseph beat incumbent Roy Hardemon in the primary in a predominantly black district 108. Joseph is now against Riquet Caballero of the Libertarian Party of Florida.

Roy Hardemon, former Democratic representative of district 108, and Dotie Joseph, who beat Hardemon in the primary, during a political forum.

  • James Bush III beat Cedric McMinn in the Democratic primary and is now running unopposed for district 109.

  • Democrat Rizwan Ahmed is running against Republican Bryan Avila, the incumbent, for district 111.

  • Incumbent Democratic candidate Nicholas Xavier Duran is running for district 112.

  • Democrat Michael Grieco, who dropped out of a Miami Beach City Council race after his corruption was exposed by The Miami Herald, won the primary and is now up against Republican Jonathan “J.P.” Parker for district 113.

  • Javier Fernandez (D-114) is the incumbent for district 114.

  • Jeffrey Solomon is the Democrat who won the primary for district 115.

  • Republican incumbent Daniel Anthony Perez is up against Democrat James Alexander Harden for district 116.

  • Kionne L. McGhee (D-117) is the incumbent and is running unopposed.

  • Robert Asencio (D-118) is the incumbent for this district.

  • After a five Republican-primary, Juan Fernandez-Barquin is facing Democrat Heath Rassner and independent Daniel E. Sotelo for district 119.

  • Democrat Steve Friedman is running to replace Republican incumbent Holly Raschein for district 120.

Florida Chief Financial Officer

  • Jeremy S. Ring (D) vs. Jimmy Patronis Jr. (R)

Florida Agriculture Commissioner

  • Nicole Fried (D) vs. Matt Caldwell (R)

Florida Attorney General

  • Sean M. Shaw (D) vs. Ashley B. Moody (R)

Circuit Court Judges for Florida’s 17th Judicial Court in Broward County

  • Carol-Lisa Phillips - unopposed incumbent

  • Nicholas "Nick" Lopane - Incumbent unopposed

  • David A. Haimes - Incumbent unopposed

  • Ernest Albert Kollra - Incumbent unopposed

  • Ari Abraham Porth - Incumbent unopposed

  • Michael Ian Rothschild - Incumbent unopposed

  • Fabienne Elizabeth Fahnestock - Incumbent unopposed

  • Jose Izquierdo - Incumbent unopposed

  • Time Lawrence Bailey - Incumbent unopposed

  • Michael A. Robinson - Incumbent unopposed

  • Martin Samuel Fein - Incumbent unopposed

  • Keathan B. Frink - Incumbent unopposed

  • Shari Beth Africk-Olefson - Unopposed

  • Jason Allen-Rosner vs. Stefanie Camille Moon

  • Susan Lynn Alspector - Unopposed

  • Yael "Elle" Gamm - unopposed incumbent

  • Michael Usan won against the incumbent Brian Richard Kaplan who is eliminated

  • Dan Casey - He beat the incumbent

  • Tom Coleman - Incumbent unopposed

  • Al Ribas - Incumbent unopposed

  • H. James Curry vs. Maria Markhasin-Weekes

  • Michele Towbin Singer - Incumbent unopposed

  • Marina G. Wood - Incumbent unopposed

Michael J. Satz was first elected as the 17th Judicial Court’s state attorney in 1976. He was reelected 10 times and will be up for election in 2020.

Circuit Court Judges for Florida’s 11th Judicial Court in Miami-Dade County

  • David C. Miller - Incumbent unopposed

  • Jose “Joe” Fernandez - Incumbent unopposed

  • Vivianne del Rio vs. Renee Gordon. Gordon placed first in the primary.

Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Betty T. Ferguson moderating a judicial forum featuring Vivianne del Rio, Renee Gordon and Jack V. Martinez. Martinez placed last in the primary and is eliminated.

  • Maria Elena Verde - Incumbent unopposed

  • Bronwyn Catherine Miller - Incumbent unopposed

  • Mindy S. Glazer - Incumbent unopposed

  • Yery Marrero - Unopposed

  • Pedro P. Echarte Jr - Incumbent unopposed

  • Carlos Lopez - Unopposed

  • Lisa Sharon Walsh - Incumbent unopposed

  • Miguel M. de la O - Incumbent unopposed

  • Ellen Sue Venzer - Incumbent unopposed

  • Maria de Jesus Santovenia - Incumbent unopposed

  • Teresa Mary Pooler - Incumbent unopposed

  • Jason Emilios Dimitris - Incumbent unopposed

  • Antonio “Tony” Arzola - Incumbent unopposed

  • Maria Espinosa Dennis - Incumbent unopposed

  • Michael A. Hanzman - Incumbent unopposed

  • Lourdes Simon - Incumbent unopposed

  • Victoria del Pino - Incumbent unopposed

  • Charlie Johnson - Incumbent unopposed

  • Valerie R. Manno Schurr - Incumbent unopposed

  • Marisa Tinkler Mendez - Incumbent unopposed

Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the 11th Judicial Court’s state attorney, was first elected in 1993 and has run opposed since. She was reelected in 2016. When is she up for election again? I don’t know. Neither four year terms nor five year terms get us to 2016 from 1993.

It's up the community to challenge itself to seek out information on all candidates, but judicial candidates in particular. As with the state attorneys, if they are running unopposed they won't bother to let us know who they are and why we should want them to serve another term. Your church, , or a lawyers'/bar association, may have someone who has the information on a judicial forum somewhere.

The Miami-Dade County School Board has a referendum asking voters to increase property taxes to raise funds for teachers, instructional personnel, school safety and security.

There are 12 proposed amendments to the Florida constitution but only one will help your entire community.

Don't leave out the amendments when you go vote

Amendment 1 would allow homeowners to deduct up to another $25,000 from the taxable value of a home worth more than $100,000 up to $125,000 starting on January 19, 2019. The amendment would cost Florida cities, counties, about $687.5 million per year and would likely result in cuts to services or higher local tax rates to account for the loss in revenue.

Amendment 2 makes permanent what currently is a temporary cap of 10% on annual property value increases for vacation homes, apartments and commercial property, effectively limiting increases on tax bills. If passed this will continue to deny local governments tax revenue they would otherwise collect from rising property values. If not passed it could lead to higher tax bills on homes the owners spend less than 50% of their time, resulting in more money to local governments of about $700 million, according to the state Revenue Estimating Conference.

Amendment 3 requires approval of any new casino gambling through a citizen-initiative constitutional amendment, effectively barring the Legislature from making those gambling decisions by passing laws. This would allow voters in the entire state to vote for a new casino anywhere in the state.

Amendment 4 restores the voting rights of some 1.5 million ex-felons after they’ve completed their sentences, except for those convicted of murder or felony sex offenses. Currently, ex-felons who complete their sentences must seek permission to vote from the Florida Cabinet, which rarely agrees.

Amendment 5 requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to approve any new or increased taxes or fees, rather than the current requirement of a simple majority. If the amendment passes, that would mean 80 of its 120 members of the Florida House would have to vote in favor of raising taxes or fees. In the Senate, it would take a vote of 27 of that body’s 40 members.

Amendment 6 vastly expands the scope of victims rights under the state Constitution; increases the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75; forces courts and judges to interpret laws and rules for themselves rather than rely on interpretations by government agencies.

Amendment 7 creates a super-majority requirement for universities to impose new or increase existing student fees; enshrines in the Constitution guidelines for the State College System; mandates that employers or the state pay a death benefit to first responders and members of the military killed in the line of duty.

Amendment 9 prohibits oil drilling beneath waters controlled by Florida, which is about nine miles controlled by Florida, which is about nine miles of the western and southern coastlines and at least three miles off the eastern coastline. “State waters” also mean bays, estuaries and other waters under Florida’s jurisdiction. The amendment also prohibits the use of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, at indoor workplaces.

Amendment 10 forces all counties to elect a sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections and a Clerk of Circuit Court. This part would apply to Florida’s 20 “charter counties.” Those are counties that have adopted a type of local level constitution. Some of those counties have done away with or changed the duties of constitutional officers. Other parts of this amendment require the Legislature to hold its session in early January on even-numbered years; create an Office of Domestic Security and Counter-terrorism within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; and mandate the existence of a state Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

A law enforcement department is a domestic security office. And the amendment lacks a definition of terrorism, like the U.S. government.

Amendment 11 repeals the state’s ability to prohibit non-citizens from buying, owning and selling property; deletes a provision that forces the state to prosecute criminal suspects under the law they were originally charged under, even if the Legislature changes that law; deletes obsolete language having to do with high-speed rail in Florida.

Amendment 12 expands ethics rules for elected officials and government employees, notably by expanding from two to six years the time that many officials would have to wait before they could lobby state government. The proposed amendment also expands the range of governments that a sitting legislator may not lobby to include federal and local governments. The new prohibition would include statewide officeholders, such as Cabinet members. Amendment 12 also includes a new prohibition against officeholders and public employees using their positions to gain a “disproportionate benefit” for themselves or their families.

Amendment 13 bans wagering on any type of dog racing, notably greyhounds, as of Dec. 31, 2020, while continuing to allow dog tracks to continue offering other types of gambling, including poker rooms.

Finally, click here to check your voter information and here to confirm your polling place.

Now that we gave you as much as much info as we can for when you head to the polls, go out and vote

Summaries of the amendments are from the League of Women Voters’ of Florida.



©2016 by Check the Vibes Magazine