dwight-bullard_web_copy.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — Dwight Bullard was 7 years old when his late mother first ran for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives. In a political family, Bullard has gone on to carve a name for himself, topping his achievements with being named chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus.

“It’s my hope that both House and Senate members will join me in engaging communities throughout Florida and move the agenda of African Americans forward,” he said in a statement announcing his appointment.

Bullard told South Florida Times on Tuesday that his goal is to “make us relevant when it comes to policy with regards to black people in Florida.”

It will be a big task. The caucus, comprising Democrats, has met with Republican  Gov. Rick Scott once a year for the past three years but didn’t bother meeting him again this year because it got nowhere with its recommendations.

But Bullard is hoping that with Scott up for re-election this year, he will be more amenable to listening to the concerns of black Floridians, he said.

“I know this is a great opportunity for us as black legislators to put forward some meaningful proposals,” Bullard said.The concerns of the caucus range from having more blacks appointed as judges and, generally, in state jobs. Bullard said the governor makes 6,000 appointments and a proportionate number of those should go to blacks – 20 percent of about 1,200 positions.
But, he added, his big issue is this: “There needs to be more people with good intentions in elected office. Too often people with good intentions do not see elected office.”

Bullard himself had an early start. He was a child when his mother, the beloved Richmond Heights politician Larcenia Bullard, made her first attempt to be elected to the House in 1984. She eventually won a seat in 1992 and served until 2000. She won a seat in the Senate in 2002, serving until 2012. She died on March 16, 2013.

Dwight’s father, Edward, won the seat in the House that his wife vacated in 2000, serving until 2008. Dwight succeeded him in 2008, serving until 2012, when he was elected to replace her in the Senate.

A Coral Reef High School teacher since 2000, Bullard will take over the chairmanship of the caucus from state Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, who has chaired the group for the past year.

The caucus, created 30 years ago, serves as the voice of the minority community in the Capitol. Its priorities include minority health disparities, judicial and gubernatorial appointments, restoration of civil rights, the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans, adequate funding of historically black colleges and universities and support for high quality public education in K-12 schools, as well as boosting state investment in minority businesses to spur greater job creation.