Editor’s note: In a South Florida political contest of national import, candidates vying in the Nov. 2 Special Primary Election for the U.S. House of Representatives seat, long held by the late Hon. Alcee Hastings, were invited to make their appeal to South Florida Times readers.

Below, and on Page 2A, in the order that their names appear on the ballot, are their responses submitted by the Times’ deadline to the questions: 1) What are your reasons for running? 2) Why should voters choose you?

Why are you running for this seat?

As someone who has lived in the district for over 20 years, I see the constant struggle for people to make ends meet. I want to fix that, through my People’s Prosperity Plan, if you’re over 18 and make less than $75,000, you will get $1,000 a month with no strings attached. Congress needs to do more for the United States, and I am going to lead that change as I’ve done as a private citizen, through the creation of well-paid union jobs or training opportunities. This is very personal to me; my district has provided my family and I a wonderful life and now I want to give every person an opportunity for the same success.

Throughout my life, I have worked to uplift the lives of real people, and I have done so with the heart of a servant leader. I grew up on the corner of one of the poorest neighborhoods in Palm Beach County, yet I have been privileged to be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and now have the distinction of having my work permanently memorialized in the Florida governor’s mansion. As an individual who has defied both odds and expectations, I endeavor to live a life that makes others proud. Today, as the proud husband of an accomplished wife, and the father to three great kids, I have been blessed beyond measure, making my responsibility to protect their future all the more pressing. It is because of my concern for their future, and the future of all children, that I am running to represent Florida’s 20th Congressional District.

Working-class people have lost ground over the past 50 years, and racial disparities in wealth, health, and education have widened in the nearly 60 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Republicans are now attacking our voting rights and trying to rig our democracy to entrench their power. We have lost John Lewis. We have lost Elijah Cummings. We have now lost Alcee Hastings. All three of these men overcame similarly tumultuous times – Jim Crow and the Civil Rights era – to do great things in Congress for disenfranchised and marginalized people. We need representatives in Congress who will fight for working-class people and marginalized communities with the same heart, intelligence, and commitment that they did. That’s why I’m running – to build on their legacy as fighters for justice and for the empowerment of historically disenfranchised communities.

Since becoming a community activist as a college student and member of the student chapter of the NAACP at North Carolina Central University, I have been driven to provide a voice for people who otherwise would lack such a voice. I was the first African American to run for Congress in Palm Beach County in 1986 when I ran for Congressional District 14 to provide a voice on issues that were affecting our communities at that time. I believe that I am the best prepared of all the candidates in the race to serve as the next U.S. representative for District 20. My life experience as a U.S. Navy veteran, businessman, and college vice president, dean and professor who has worked on the local, state and national levels on issues affecting the poor, senior citizens, national defense, STEM education and services for children and families has prepared me to serve as your next representative in Congress.

My reasons for running are the following: To bring about concrete changes in the lives of people in this district which entail 1) reparations for slavery; 2) forgiveness of students’ debts; 3) Medicare for All; 4) a living wage; 5) voting rights for ex-felons upon release; 6) stronger enforcement of the air and water acts; 7) legalizing cannabis, medical and recreation.

I want to put my education, business, and political experience to work serving the people of District 20 in Washington focusing on the issues important to our residents like access to quality healthcare, social justice, voter rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, worker‘s rights, water resources, strengthening education, creating good paying jobs for our residents, affordable housing, reasonable gun legislation, and providing financial assistance to those who were permanently financially damaged by the COVID 19 pandemic. Social justice reform includes the fair administration of justice, ending racial profiling, consistency in sentencing, equal employment opportunities, pay equity, affordable housing, ending food insecurity, education equality, building generational wealth, banning the box, and voting rights, including the restoration of felon rights, and eliminating discriminatory voter identification laws. I support the Paris climate agreement, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, the Women’s Health Protection Act, the Equality Act, and the PRO Act.

As a 40-year resident of Palm Beach County, the former mayor, county commissioner, Florida state representative and port commissioner I see myself as uniquely qualified to represent the citizens of District 20 in Congress. I have a proven track record of working with and representing the citizens on almost every level of local and state government. I want to use the experience that I have garnered over the past 20-plus years to continue working for the citizens and to be their strong and caring voice in Washington.

I am running for office because Congressional District 20 needs strong leadership. Our community is facing key issues such as healthcare, education, and social/racial injustice. It is crucial that District 20 has representation that can make a difference on day one. While serving over 15 years in the Florida legislature I was the chairman of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, Democratic leader in the Florida House of Representatives, and unanimously selected Senate Democratic leader and confronted some of the same issues I will see in Congress.

Candidates who did not respond: Bobby DuBose, Dale Holness.