BARBARA SHARIEF, RODNEY JACOBS: Have filed to run in the Democratic Primary set for Aug. 20. PHOTOS COURTESY OF FACEBOOK

MIRAMAR, Fla. – Two Broward County residents and community leaders are seeking to represent District 35 in the Florida state Senate in 2024.

Former Broward County mayor Dr. Barbara Sharief and political novice Rodney Jacobs, executive director of the City of Miami Civilian Investigative Panel police oversight committee, have filed to replace Democratic Leader Lauren Book, who is term-limited next year.

Senate District 35 covers areas including Pembroke Pines, Sunrise, Hallandale Beach and Dania Beach.

The Democratic Primary is Aug. 20. Sharief lost to Book last year by 60 percent of the vote in the then-newly drawn district.

But the race escalated into a lawsuit filed by Sharief who accused Book’s campaign of running defamatory ads that Sharief, who’s president and CEO of a healthcare company, betrayed Medicaid and she settled a case with the State Agency for Health Care Administration after overbilling accusations.

Sharief won the defamation lawsuit in May against Winning Florida, a political action committee that was responsible for the production and dissemination of misleading campaign ads during the 2022 primary election.

As part of the settlement, Winning Florida has agreed to publicly retract all references to Sharief “defrauding” any entity or having been found guilty. The advertisements referenced in the settlement presented false claims that Sharief defrauded Medicaid.

“I have dedicated my career to caring for the most vulnerable and ensuring the safety of Broward County residents," Sharief said in a statement.

"Not only was I attacked on my integrity as a healthcare professional, voters in the 2022 primary were also misled on my stance on gun safety. I lost my father to gun violence at the age of 14 and have been a staunch advocate for common sense gun safety laws.”

Following the election, Sharief filed papers to run for the seat again in 2024.

Sharief, who also unsuccessfully ran for a congressional seat in 2021, said she’s advocating for healthcare equity, better education, protecting water resources and the environment, creating better paying jobs, and LGBTQ rights.

"As your next state senator, my job in Tallahassee will be to fight for your needs and ensure that your voice is heard," Sharief said. "I’ll fight for the expansion of Medicare so that no one has to choose between their health and their financial stability."

Jacobs, who lives in Miramar, said issues in Tallahassee need some serious addressing. "There’s two options: leave the state or be part of the change," he said. "I’m willing to fight for Florida."

Jacobs, who was born in Philadelphia, said he has the leadership to reduce the state’s unemployment rate, create more affordable housing options, public health, climate change solutions, and, like Sharief, safeguard water resources and the environment.

“I have worked to keep our community safe as a Captain in the Army reserves and by heading the Police Oversight Commission," he said. "Now, I intend to bring my legacy of leadership to Tallahassee."

Jacobs earned his degrees from Hiram College and the University of Miami and law degree from the University of Dayton School of Law.

He is also an adjunct professor at Florida International University teaching administrative law and ethics.

Jacobs joined the watchdog police group in 2017 and was appointed executive director last year.

The group reviews citizen complaints against City of Miami police officers from discourtesy complaints to allegations of excessive force.

Jacobs was awarded the U.S. Army Achievement Medal for serving in the 436th Civil Affairs Battalion, ACO within the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborn).

Sharief has a hefty roster of supporters including state senator Rosalind Osgood, Broward County Clerk of the Courts Brenda Forman, Broward County State Attorney Harold Pryor, Broward Commissioners Mark Bogen, Robert McKinzie, Hazelle Rogers and Tim Ryan, Town of Davie Mayor Judy Paul, Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan, Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper, Dania Beach Mayor Tamara E. James, and Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis.

So far, Sharief has raised $76,791 for her campaign and Jacobs’ campaign reports zero, according to campaign reports.