President of Florida’s Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, Henry Crespo and Opa Locka Commissioner Dottie Johnson:

The Democratic Black Caucus of Florida represents over 1.2 million black voters registered as Democrats including 200,000 black Democrats in Miami-Dade County. Opa-Locka is a historic majority black community in Miami-Dade County. The President of the Democratic Black Caucus, Henry Crespo and the City of Opa-Locka’s Commissioner Dottie Johnson stand in solidarity demanding that voters vote NO on local ballot initiatives that 1) do not clearly benefit the communities they represent. 2) and whose organizers do not outreach to them as quality voters.

Local elections affect people more closely especially in communities of need. Tip O’Neil the former United States Congressman from Massachusetts and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives was an icon within the democratic party for decades particularly during the Reagan years. He coined the term “All politics are local.” Politicians and Government must appeal to the simple, mundane and everyday concerns of those who elect them into office. Those personal issues, rather than big and intangible ideas, are often what voters care most about.

“In Miami-Dade there is a ballot question to bond $360 million dollars for a new courthouse, the average person knows nothing of this. There’s a ballot question to move the Miami-Dade Youth Fair, again the barbershops and beauty salons know nothing of this. But yet each one of these ballot questions has raised close to $1 million dollars in their respective political action committees. I find it shocking that these critical issues that obligate financial commitments, African Americans are unaware of them. Black voters have not been outreached to and it appears that these covert campaigns hope black voters will simply skip these down ballot issues thus assisting their passage without our voices being heard. IT’S ANOTHER FORM OF VOTER SUPPRESSION.” — Henry Crespo, President of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida.

In the recent August primary in Miami-Dade, African Americans out-performed all groups at the poll. The county voter turnout rate was an abysmal 14% but African Americans turned out at 19%, still relatively low but higher than Hispanic Americans at 13%, and Anglo Americans at 16%. Dispelling myths of black voter turnout (even in an off year primary) and more importantly how to achieve it. The campaign for Judge Rodney Smith helped to increase higher black voter interest. Smith is one of the few black judges in Miami-Dade. His re-election campaign developed a message that highlighted how judges affect the life, liberty and property of folk everyday. His campaign had a clear and direct message that galvanized the black community and they responded by voting at a higher rate than others. The result was that Judge Smith was the only sitting judge who won election, several others lost and another was pushed into a run-off.

“So there is no excuse why these ballot initiatives are not engaging our community; it makes absolutely no sense, especially since we are voting at a higher turnout rate than others. I believe in front porch conversations, face to face explanations and community discussions by those who seek our vote. Local ballot initiatives must be understood by the voters I represent in Opa Locka, the supporters of these issues should clearly articulate how they positively affect our community directly, If they fail this test then VOTE NO” — Opa-Locka Commissioner Dottie Johnson

The Democratic Black Caucus of Florida is encouraging its membership throughout the state of Florida, to research these local ballot initiatives and assess its impact in their communities with clarity. We are also encouraging our county chapters to monitor the dollars spent by PACs supporting them.

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The Democratic Black Caucus of Florida was established in 1983, to unite and increase the political power for Black Democrats who went unnoticed. The Caucus is an integral part of the Florida Democratic Party’s infrastructure, which unites talent with opportunity to facilitate voter building through educational forums affecting voter registration drives (EVRD), get out the vote (GOTV), voter action network (VAN), vote by mail (VBM), and support qualified candidates approved by the Black Caucus.