On a national scale, there’s no question this election season will be exciting. Along the spectrum, it could be interesting and even possibly depressing, for some.
With Donald Trump being the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, the silent majority has spoken so far and they apparently agree with Trump’s anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican, anti-Women rhetoric. As for Black people, well, he has Black friends and his daughter is married to a Jewish man.
The previous sentence was written with the most sarcasm I could possibly put into words.
That’s about as much as we know about Trump’s views on how he personally and professionally feels about people of color and that’s plenty. Besides the soon-to-be bland Presidential general race, we have local races that can directly change communities of color and hopefully reshape the United States Senate. Yes, that drag of a Senate that refuses to not even so much as grant a hearing for President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
Closer to home, we need serious change in Central Florida’s Black and Brown communities and it doesn’t only come with a change in current elected and appointed officials. All races are important, however, the top 5 races to watch closely will indeed shape the next 2-4 years of Black and Brown life in Central Florida if we choose wisely.
- State Attorney: The State Attorney’s race is indeed shaping up to be both exciting and interesting as current State Attorney, Jeff Ashton, is challenged by his former employee, Aramis Ayala. Both are Democrats. While Ashton is still favored in the race, he won with an estimated 47% of the Black vote and 42% of the Latino vote. Ayala is Black and her husband is Latino which leads some to assume Ayala could have a real shot at this office based on the demographics. However, that is an assumption that all people of color vote for people of color and that’s not accurate. While it’s not impossible, it is hard to be an incumbent. Ashton is not only known for his role in the Casey Anthony trial but, quite frankly, he’s a brilliant attorney even outside of that one case. He was the first attorney to earn a conviction by introducing DNA as evidence in 1987. Ashton is favored by many because he’s more experienced and has a strong track record. He ran a successful campaign against Lawson Lamar calling out most of the things that Black and Brown people hold near and dear. Especially, the “improper” prison sentences Lamar was known for supporting.
- Congressional District 10: With this race, we have the potential to elect a Black woman as a U.S. Representative in this area. With the newly drawn lines, Representative Daniel Webster (R), who currently holds the seat, has chosen to run in District 11 instead of District 10, while former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings (D) shapes the race as the favored candidate. Businessman Bob Poe, Senator Geraldine Thompson and Attorney Fatima Rita Fahmy, all Democrats, also challenge Demings in the race for the seat.
- Senate District 13: State Representative Randolph Bracy, Jr (D), former Senator Gary Siplin (D), Environmentalist Chuck O’Neal (D) and former State Representative Bob Sindler (D) have all raised a pretty decent amount of money according to their financial reports for this Senate seat previously occupied by Senator Geraldine Thompson. While this is a hard race to call “favorites,” name recognition may be what it all boils down to. The Bracy name is well-known in the community because of his parents and their success as Pastors and their work with the community, local and national politics. But, young Bracy has to earn a “name” for himself when it comes to drafting legislation that creates positive change. Siplin brings his name recognition to the table as well as he not only served as Senator but has served the community as an attorney and was known for his backpack giveaways each year before school starts, which also happened to always be around primary elections.
- Senator Marco Rubio’s Current Seat: This race is known to most people as “Rubio’s seat.” It will be a knock-down, drag-out fight simply because Alan “say my name” Grayson is in the race. Grayson always makes a splash wherever he goes. He’s a registered Democrat but acts more like an Independent. As Rubio makes his exit, many believe he was always preparing himself for the role of President while neglecting his responsibilities as Senator. Rubio (R) didn’t vote on issues that had a direct impact on his constituents, Alan Grayson (D), Patrick Murphy (Republican turned Democrat) and Pam Keith (D) are all vying for former Presidential Candidate and current Senator Marco Rubio’s seat. Keith is the only woman and only person of color in this race. One thing that stood out to me when I spoke with Pam Keith is her passion for issues that matter to Black people. She is passionate about the Black Lives Matter movement which may drive younger people to the polls in her favor. Recently, in his final time as Senator, Rubio visited Orlando and went to the often talked about Windsor Cove Apartments and called the owners “slumlords”.
- The Race for Weed: In a sense, Attorney and activist John Morgan of nationally known law firm, Morgan and Morgan, is the favored candidate when it comes to the legalization of medical marijuana commonly called “pot” in Florida. Everyone seems to have their eyes on this race as last election cycle it narrowly failed to pass. Now, medical marijuana will be on the Presidential ballot. Presidential races always bring out more voters, so many anticipate this time around the legalization of cannabis is within reach.
Elections should not be a popularity contest nor should they propel reality show excitement in voters. Elections are serious business and shouldn’t be taken lightly. As we move forward with debates, Q&A’s with candidates and as we gather other information, possibly, we will be able to make decisions that will help create the communities we desire.