andrea k owes_web.jpgLAUDERHILL — Continuing its effort to inform Broward residents and ensure that they remain active in local and state politics, the Urban League of Broward County next week will host another political forum as part of its ongoing Broward Votes initiative.

With low voter turnout in the primary elections last August an indicator of the urgent need to educate residents of the importance of these races’ impact on local government, the Urban League, in partnership with the South Florida Times and other organizations, is urging Broward residents to take part in the political forum on Oct.15 at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill.

“People do not understand how local, elected officials and their seat are important,’’ said Andrea Owes, president of the Urban League’s Young Professionals Network. “They feel it doesn’t hold as much weight. While they are intently focused on the presidential elections, and there is an increase of people registering to vote, they are not turning out for local elections. They just don’t understand.”

Organizers say the forum will reinforce the importance of the election process and provide a better understanding of the Broward County Charter amendments and the Florida constitutional amendments, which will be on the Nov. 4 ballot, as well as the race for the next Broward County sheriff. Republican incumbent Sheriff Al Lamberti will face off against Democratic challenger Scott Israel, the former police chief in North Bay Village, for the county’s top law-enforcement job.

South Florida Times reporter and political commentator Joy-Ann Reid, who also co-hosted the last three Broward Votes forums earlier this year, and HOT 105 FM news anchor Traci Cloyd, will moderate the forum.

“As important as it is for all of us who are rushing out to vote for president, we’ve got to focus on the offices that actually affect us day-to-day and those ballot initiatives that could really impact Broward County and Florida voters as well the office of the sheriff,’’ Reid said. “Who is in that sheriff’s office is critical, particularly for the black community.”

The Broward Votes panelists, including attorney Roshawn Banks of the American Civil Liberties Union; Lauderdale Lakes Police Chief Andrew Smalling; and a representative from Kids Voting, an organization that encourages young people to vote; are expected to engage the audience in informative dialogue about the charter amendments.

Following brief presentations about Election Day by the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office and the Broward affiliate of the League of Women Voters, the audience will have an opportunity to pose questions to Lamberti and Israel about the sheriff’s race.

Among the state amendments to be discussed are marriage protection, declaration of rights for non-citizens to own property, and local counties having the option to fund their community colleges.

Also on the November ballot are Broward County charter questions including forming a transit authority to improve the public transit system in Broward; forming a housing council between the county and municipalities to address affordable housing; prohibiting the interference of the Broward County Commission in matters relating to county administration employees; creating an ethics commission; and redistricting the County Commission single-member districts.

Owes said the Urban League, the Jamaican Diaspora of the Southern United States, the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), the T. J. Reddick Bar Association, the Caribbean Bar Association, the 100 Black Men of Greater Fort Lauderdale and the South Florida Times partnered to create Broward Votes, a non-partisan initiative that encourages the expression of all political points of view.

“It’s to encourage civic participation and to get people involved in the election process,’’ Owes said, “not just getting to the polls, for voter education—understanding what the issues are, and what the amendments mean, who the candidates are and what their platform is, and give them an opportunity to have questions posed to the candidates so they can have an understanding.’’

What: Broward Votes Political Forum.
When: Wednesday, Oct. 15 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Central Broward Regional Park, 3700 NW 11th Place, Lauderhill
Cost: Free.
Contact: Andrea Owes at 954-584-0777 or visit

Pictured above: Andrea Owes