In just a couple weeks, the 2020 general election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Parkland residents will have the opportunity to vote for the Parkland Mayor, Parkland city commissioners, President of the United States and much more.
First on the ballot is the election for President and Vice President. Although the ballot features a total of eight options, the front-runners are Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joseph “Joe” Biden. For his running mate, Trump has selected his current Vice President Mike Pence, the former Governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017. Pence also served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013. As for Biden, Kamala Harris has been chosen as his Vice Presidential running mate. Harris has served in the U.S. Senate since 2017 as the Senator of California. Kamala is the first Asian-American and African-American woman to be on a major party’s ticket. If elected, Harris would also be the first Asian-American and African-American to become Vice President. Current President Donald Trump won the 2016 Presidential election against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden served as Vice President to former President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017.
Next on the ballot is the Congressional Representative for District 22. District 22 consists of the Broward County coastline to Southern Palm Beach County. Running in this election are Republican candidate James “Jim” Pruden and Democratic candidate Ted Deutch. One component of Pruden’s platform is terminating government funding of abortions. He does not support banning firearms, but instead supports analyzing different ways to identify threats. Deutch, who currently holds the district’s seat, wants to help expand upon the Affordable Care Act and supports legislation to raise the age a person must be to own a firearm to 21. The Affordable Care Act, put in place in 2010 by former President Barack Obama, was created to offer health insurance to millions of Americans who were previously uninsured. This act makes sure a person’s pre-existing conditions do not keep an insurance provider from offering them coverage.
Following the Representative for District 22 is the State Attorney of the 17th Judicial circuit. This election consists of Republican candidate Gregg Rossman and Democratic candidate Harold Fernandez Pryor. Rossman received his law degree in 1994 from Nova Southeastern University, and served as Assistant State Attorney of Broward County from Oct. 1994 to Sept. 2014. Rossman hopes to push the public to take an honest look at data before stating racial disparities. Furthermore, Rossman does support the death penalty. Harold Pryor, also a former Assistant State Attorney in Broward County from 2014 to 2017, hopes to promote more prevention programs for youth to end “school-to-prison pipelines” in under-privileged neighborhoods and create a “Conviction Integrity Unit” to help those who have been wrongfully convicted. Pryor does not support the death penalty, but does promise to uphold the constitution if elected.
Running uncontested for the Public Defender of the 17th Judicial Circuit is Gordon Weekes. Weekes, who is currently the Executive Chief Assistant Public Defender, obtained his law degree from Nova Southeastern University in 1997. Throughout his career, Weekes has worked as a Public Defender representing juveniles and adults with serious felonies. From 2007-2017, Weekes served as Chief Assistant Public Defender of the Juvenile Division. Weekes is morally opposed to the death penalty and supports abolishing monetary bail for non-violent offenses.
Running for state senator in District 29 are Republican Brian Norton and Democrat Tina Polsky. Norton, a small business owner, wants to use “common sense” reforms he feels will help existing small businesses. He also hopes to create a generation of children who can better contribute to society by bringing back life skills and trade education. Polsky, a current member of Florida legislature, hopes to increase teacher pay and champion causes to increase school funding. Polsky also hopes to continue to introduce more bills to place a ban on assault weapons.
Running uncontested for state representative in District 96 is current Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky. Hunschoksky has served as the Mayor of Parkland since 2016. Before becoming the Mayor of Parkland, Hunschofsky served as a city commissioner of Parkland for four years. If elected as a state representative, Hunschofsky hopes to make sensible gun safety laws and make sure any needs of her district are met during the current coronavirus pandemic.
The next item on the ballot is the retainment of Florida Supreme Court Justice Carlos G. Muñiz. Muñiz, a conservative and graduate of Yale Law School, has held his position on the court since his appointment on Jan. 22, 2019 by Governor Ron DeSantis. Before being appointed to the Florida Supreme Court, Muñiz served in many positions in the Florida State Government. He held positions including Deputy Attorney General, Chief of Staff to former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Deputy General counsel to Governor Jeb Bush. The Florida Supreme Court does have term limits set in place by the acting Governor. Once a Governor appoints someone to the Supreme Court, they set a term limit of up to six years. Justices also must appear on a general election ballot for reinstatement at the end of their term.
Following the Florida Supreme Court retainment is the retention of three Judges in the Fourth District Court of Appeals. The first judge featured on the ballot is Alan O. Frost. Judge Frost graduated from Georgetown University in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in foreign service, and from Columbus School of Law in 1985. Before serving on the Fourth District Court of Appeals, Frost served as chairman of the Florida Unemployment Appeals Commission. The next judge up for retention is Mark W. Kilgensmith. Judge Kilgensmith graduated from the University of Florida in 1982 with his bachelor’s and from the University of Florida in 1985 with his Juris Doctorate. The last judge on the ballot is Martha C. Warner. Judge Warner graduated from Colorado College in 1971 with her bachelor’s and from the University of Florida in 1974 with her Juris Doctorate. Before becoming a judge on the District Court of Appeals, Warner served as a circuit court judge on the 19th Judicial Court for two years.
Running for Judge in the 17th Judicial Circuit are Dennis Daniel Bailey and George Odom Jr. Dennis Daniel Bailey, who currently holds the position, feels the current coronavirus pandemic should be the biggest issue for voters. Bailey hopes to continue mentoring lawyers and law students in the Broward County community. Odom, a former Marine, hopes to improve the public’s knowledge of the court system. He wants the public to have a website with all court history and case information.
Florida Constitutional Amendments
The first proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution is whether or not citizenship should be a requirement to vote in Florida Elections. If Floridians vote yes, they are voting to change the current Florida constitutional language. Currently stating “every citizen,” this amendment would change the constitution to read “only a citizen of the United States who is at least 18 years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.” If Floridians vote no, they are supporting the current language of “every citizen.”
The second proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution pertains to minimum wage. If this amendment is passed, minimum wage will rise to $10.00. On Sept. 30 of every year following for the next six years, the minimum wage would increase by $1.00, reaching $15 in 2026. If Floridians vote yes, they are voting to make this gradual increase for minimum wage. If Floridians vote no, they are supporting no change to minimum wage, which is currently $8.56 per hour. If passed, the proposed amendment may cause higher taxes or loss of government services.
The third proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution pertains to open and closed primaries. Currently, Florida has a closed primary system. In this system, voters must be registered to a political party and are only able to vote in that specific party. For example, a registered Democrat can only vote in the Democratic primary. If Floridians vote yes, they are supporting an open primary, allowing voters to vote regardless of their party affiliation. If Floridians vote no, they are voting to continue with a closed primary, requiring a voter to be registered to a specific party to vote in that party’s primary. Amendment 3 has many pros and cons. One of the pros is that voters registered as Independent and other minor parties would now have the power to vote in primaries. A con for Amendment 3 is the possibility of voters casting a vote in the primary for a weaker candidate to give the candidate they actually want to win, a less threatening opponent in the general election. If passed, this amendment would be effective on Jan. 1, 2024.
The fourth proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution pertains to constitutional amendments. This amendment is proposing that all revisions to the Florida Constitution must undergo voter approval in two separate elections to take effect. The current rule allows amendments to the Constitution after 60% of voters vote in its favor. If Floridians vote yes, they are supporting a system where all constitutional amendments must undergo two elections and receive 60% of votes. If Floridians vote no, they support keeping the current system of all proposed amendments undergoing one election and obtaining 60% of votes.
The fifth proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution pertains to Homestead property tax assessments. A homestead tax is a tax by local government offices based on an assessment of the home’s value. This amendment would change the time period of when a homeowner can transfer their “Save Our Homes” benefits. The current time period is two years and if passed, this amendment would change the time period to three years starting on Jan. 21, 2021. The “Save Our Homes” benefit puts a limit on homestead property value increase. If Floridians vote yes, they support extending the deadline to transfer “Save Our Home” benefits. This extension would go from two years to three years. If Floridians vote no, they support keeping the deadline at a two year maximum.
The last proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution pertains to a tax discount to the spouses of deceased veterans who suffered permanent disabilities due to their time serving in the military. Currently, veterans with permanent combat related disabilities receive a discount on their homestead property tax. If passed, this amendment would extend the tax discount on homestead properties to spouses until they pass away or remarry. If passed, this amendment would take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. A yes vote means they do support spouses of disabled veterans to receive a tax discount. A no vote means they do not support a tax discount for spouses of disabled veterans.
Broward County Government
Following the election of District 96 State Representative is the election of Broward County Sheriff. The two candidates running for Sheriff are Republican H. Wayne Clark and Democrat Gregory Tony. Clark, who is currently an attorney, hopes to conduct forensic searches into the Broward Sheriff’s budget in hopes of maximizing the use of tax dollars. Clark also hopes to use Broward Sheriff’s Office programs to improve mental health around the county. In 2019, Gregory Tony was appointed as interim Sheriff by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis after former Sheriff Scott Israel was removed from office because of his handling of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, 2018. If re-elected as Sheriff, Tony hopes to develop a range of curriculum and video lessons discussing active shooter protocols in Broward County public schools.
Supervisor of Elections is also up for election, with Republican Catherine McBreen and Democrat Joe Scott running for the position. McBreen supports mail-in voting. If elected, McBreen hopes to create a range of initiatives to make voting more accessible. Joe Scott, a current Parkland resident and Captain in the U.S. Army, hopes to make voting easier with a list of changes, such as making sure every polling location has a sufficient number of voting machines and staff. Scott also hopes to increase voter participation by making vote-by-mail ballots available to every eligible voter.
Running for seat 9 on the Broward County School Board are Debra Hixon and Jeff Holness. Seat 9 on the board is an “at large” seat, allowing all Broward County residents to vote for the position regardless of where in the county they live. Debra Hixon lost her husband Chris Hixon on Feb. 14, 2018 in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Chris Hixon served as the school’s wrestling coach and athletic director at MSD. Hixon ran into the building where the shooter was in an attempt to disarm him. Debra Hixon hopes to increase teacher pay to help with teacher retention and collaborate with the community to enhance student experience. Holness, a former teacher and assistant principal designee, supports limiting access to schools to ensure the safety of students and staff. Holness also supports better compensation for teachers and staff. Holness believes that when teachers and staff receive better support, they are able to better support students and parents.
Following seat 9 for the Broward County School Board is the race for Broward Soil and Water Conservation District seat 5 between Fred Segal and Beau Simon. Segal hopes to enter contracts with South Florida Water Management and many other companies to provide services for land owners. Simon, an 18-year-old college student, hopes to restore Butterfly Gardens and increase district grant funding.
Broward County Ballot Questions
In 1974, Broward County adopted the original county charter. The current charter allows an independent county auditor, county revenue department and new county administrator to deal with all county finances. However, this changed when amendment 10 was passed in 2018. Amendment 10 allows the county clerk of courts to handle all financial responsibilities. For this amendment to be overridden, voters in their county must vote against amendment 10. If Broward County residents vote yes, they are in support of overriding amendment 10. If Broward County residents vote no, they are not in support of overriding amendment 10.
The second ballot question for Broward County residents pertains to city zoning laws. If passed, Broward County would have the right to rapidly advance transportation around the county. The downside of this amendment is that Broward County would now have the power to build anything on a section of land in any of the 31 cities and towns. If Broward County residents vote yes, they are in support of allowing Broward County to use land to advance the county, regardless of the land’s location. In Broward County residents vote no, they do not support Broward County using land to advance the county, regardless of where the land is located.
The City of Parkland Government
The City of Parkland currently has three district commission seats up for election, as well as city Mayor. Running for Mayor of Parkland are Stacy Kagan and Richard Walker. Stacy Kagan, a Parkland City Commissioner for seven years, hopes to put the community’s safety concerns first. If elected Mayor, Kagan hopes to maintain Parkland’s small town feel. Richard Walker, a Parkland City Commissioner since 2018, hopes to improve Parkland’s green spaces and continue to build a relationship with Broward County Public Schools to ensure increased school safety.
Running for District 1 City Commissioner are Simeon Brier, Denise DellaPolla, William Reicherter and Alex Zand. District 1 includes Heron Bay, Parkland Bay and the Four Seasons at Parkland. Simeon Brier, a litigation attorney and MSD alumni, is running to ensure that law enforcement is provided the necessary resources to keep schools safe and improve community spaces like parks. Denise DellaPolla, a Heron Bay resident, is running to protect what she calls “Parkland’s special character.” DellaPolla has also promised the children of Parkland a special visit from Santa in December. William Eeicherter, commonly referred to as “Bill,” hopes to support small businesses in Parkland during the current pandemic and ensure the safety of students and teachers as schools reopen. Alex Zand, a 21-year-old and lifelong Parkland resident, is running to put in place more activities for Parkland’s 55 and older age group and continue to develop Parkland without adding more traffic.
Running for District 2 City Commissioner are Jordan Isrow and Derek Olivier. District 2 includes Watercrest, Cascata, Miralago, a section of Parkland Golf and Country Club closest to Nob Hill Road, Parkland Reserve and Parkland Isles. Jordan Isrow, a current resident of Watercrest and general counsel for a cosmetic company, is hoping to prepare Parkland for the future by preserving its family-friendly feel. Derek Olivier, a resident of Parkland Isles and real estate agent, is pushing for all future candidates to not accept campaign donations. If elected to represent District 2, Olivier hopes to establish a Parkland Police force to save the city up to $3 million a year and stop overdevelopment.
Running for District 4 City Commissioner are Robert W. Brannen and Bob Mayersohn. District 4 encompasses Pine Tree Estates South, Cypress Trail, Ternbridge, Whittier Oaks, Cypress Cay, Parkside Estates, Mayfair, Mill Run, Parkland Place, The Lakes at Parkland, Parkland Terraces, Parkwood, Country Place, Sable Pass, Country Point and County Acres. Robert W. Brannen, an owner of a construction company, acknowledges that many Parkland candidates all run on the same platform. Brannen feels it is best that he take on existing issues and face them with a common sense mentality. Bob Mayersohn, a Vice Mayor and current Parkland city commissioner, promises to continue to expand School Resource Officer Programs. Mayersohn also hopes that lowering Parkland taxes will maintain high property values.
With the general election in less than a month, voters have many candidates, judges and amendments to consider. Early voting starts on Oct. 19 and ends on Nov. 1. Floridians can also cast their votes on Nov. 3. If voting by mail, ballots must be received by 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 3 by the Supervisor of Elections. Vote-by-mail ballots cannot be turned into local precincts. Broward County residents are able to take part in early voting at Pine Trails Park Amphitheater and many other locations. The Pine Trails Amphitheater is located at 10555 Trails End, Parkland, FL 33076. Another nearby early voting location is Northwest Regional Library located at 3151 University Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33065.
“There’s no such thing as a vote that doesn’t matter. It all matters,” former President Barack Obama said.