Voters in parts of Miami-Dade County will go to the polls Tuesday, Feb. 8, to pick a Democratic candidate for the Florida Senate and choose a new state representative. The voting results from the election of Frederica Wilson last November to the U.S. House of Representatives.
One set of voting will determine which Democratic candidate will face off against a lone Republican for the Florida Senate seat Wilson vacated. The candidates are all very familiar faces.
In the other race, voters will select a replacement for one of those Democratic candidates who quit his state House seat to run for the Senate.
The contenders in the Democratic primary are Oscar Braynon II, who resigned from his House District 103 seat, and former state Reps. Phillip J. Brutus, James Bush III and Darryl Franklin Reaves.
The winner will face Republican Joe Celestin, former mayor of North Miami, in a March runoff.
Competing to fill Braynon’s House seat are Erhabor Ighodaro, a Miami-Dade high school teacher; Miami Gardens Councilwoman Sharon Pritchett; and Barbara Watson, former vice mayor of Miami Gardens, all Democrats.
Born in Texas, Braynon, 34, was raised in the Miami area and graduated from North Miami Beach High and Florida State University where he earned a bachelor’s in political science. He served as a Miami Gardens council member from 2003 to 2008 and as vice mayor from 2005 to 2007.
Braynon, who was not available for an interview, has raised more than $122,000 for his campaign, with contributions coming from Comcast, Publix, Seaworld and the Miami Dolphins, as well as Wilson.
Brutus, the first Haitian American to serve in the state House when he was elected in 2000, would be the first also in the Senate if he wins.
Born in Port-au-Prince, Brutus came to the United States in 1985, attended the University of Massachusetts and earned a law degree at Boston’s Suffolk University.
He lost a bid for the U.S. Congress last November in which one of the contenders was his ex-wife, state Rep. Yolly Roberson. He has raised about $7,000.
Bush was born in Panama City and is a graduate of Miami Northwestern High School. He represented District 109 for more than 10 years and is running on a platform of keeping jobs in the community.
“First we have to maintain the jobs we have. We can’t create if we are laying people off,” said Bush, who has raised $665 for his campaign.
Reaves previously represented District 106, a seat formerly held by his late father Jefferson Reaves.
Born in the Brownsville section of Miami, Reaves attended Miami Springs High and earned a bachelor’s in journalism from Florida A&M and a law degree from the University of Florida.
Reaves, who could not be reached for an interview, lost a bid for the Miami-Dade School Board last November. He still owes the Florida Elections Commission more than $60,000 in fines dating to his days as a state representative. He has raised just over $10,000, in addition to $10,000 in personal funds.
Ighodaro, director of the Academy of Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security at Miami Norland High in Miami Gardens, was born in Nigeria. He came to the U.S. to attend then Florida Memorial College on a basketball scholarship and earned a master’s at St. Thomas University and a Ph.D at Nova Southeastern.
Ighodaro wants to focus on the public school system, working to get schools adequate funding and to use standardized tests to assess student achievement, not punish students or the schools.
Ighodaro has raised nearly $10,000 for his campaign, much of it from educators or former educators.
Pritchett, chief investigator for the Miami-Dade County Public Defender, also wants to focus on school funding.
“We need to look at the formula for calculating the distribution of funds and make it more fair and equitable for this area, while meeting the needs of those in other areas,” Pritchett said.
She has raised over $5,000 and has loaned her campaign $2,000.
Watson said she would focus on jobs and rebuilding community infrastructure and look at the allocation of funds for school construction.
“We built 780 schools last year,” she said. “Rather than construction, we could put the money into the classrooms.”
Watson has raised about $3,000 in campaign contributions and has loaned her campaign more than $7,000.
Jessica De Leon may be contacted at email@example.com.
IF YOU GO
Voters MAY cast ballots early for the special primary elections for state Senate District 33 and state House of Representatives District 103 at the following locations and times:
North Dade Regional Library, 2455 NW 183rd St.
North Miami Public Library, 835 NE 132nd St.
Model City Library at Caleb Center, 2211 NW 54th Street
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Feb.3, 4
9 a.m.-1p.m. Feb. 5.
1-5 p.m. Feb.6
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8.
Voters can find their polling places by calling 305-499-8683 or visiting miamidade.gov/elections/ and clicking on "Find Your Polling Place."