Two people who served together on the Miami Gardens dais are vying for the District 102 seat. Felicia S. Robinson and David Williams Jr. will go up against each other to represent parts of Pembroke Pines, Miramar and Miami Gardens.
They will battle each other and two other candidates, Dennis M. Hinds, a political volunteer from Miramar and Matthew Tisdol, a Miami Gardens resident who previously ran for a House seat. The current representative is Sharon Pritchett, who will face term limits in 2020 and must vacate the seat she has held since 2012.
Robinson was on the Miami Gardens City Council from 2010 until she reached the maximum number of terms she could serve in November 2018. A few months later, in April, she launched her District 102 campaign. Robinson spoke about her work in the public school system and on the Miami Gardens City Council, and her interests in gun and voter reforms.
Robinson served in the only city in Miami-Dade County where crime is up, some 25 percent according to a recent Miami Herald report.
She said she will research what cities can do about gun laws, but did not commit to sponsoring legislation on access to firearms.
“I think municipalities should have a say,” Robinson said to The Miami Times. “We need to address what’s happening in our area.”
On education, she is for comprehensive sex education for students in ninth grade or higher and wants more oversight of charter schools The Miami-Dade County Public School system does not oversee charter schools. Taxpayer money is used to fund charter schools.
“Some may say money should follow the students, and I wouldn’t take that away. But I would look into oversight into charter schools so it’s equal across the board,” Robinson said. “Funding should include accountability.”
She supports same-day voter registration and automatic registration with an opt-out system if someone wants to do so. She provided the example of when a public school student turns 18 and receives a voter registration card.
“I would look to eliminate some deterrents,” Robinson said. She wants to extend the deadline to examine voter signatures. Too-close-to-call races may trigger a recount and physical examination of ballots, as what happened in the 2018 statewide elections for governor, U.S. senator and the agriculture and consumer services commissioners.
Matthew Tisdol said his focus is to run a people-centered campaign.
"It's to make sure the voice of people is being adhered to," Tisdol said. "As a whole, no. That is not the case now. It would be disingenuous to say it is."
Tisdol is a former tester and investigator with the Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence. He was also Spread the Vote's director for Florida. Spread the Vote is a national organization that helps voters receive government-issued identification.
He isn't new to politics as he ran for District 104 but lost in the Democratic primaries. Tisdol filed his candidacy paperwork on July 5 and has not raised any money.
COMPANIES WELCOMED IN DISTRICT
At this writing, Robinson has raised $21,244.80, Hinds $150 and Williams $13,310. Williams began on the Miami Gardens City Council in March 2010; he was elected twice and will term out in 2020. He retired from the pharmaceutical industry and said he can use his connections to benefit Florida workers.
“I have more of a voice in convincing pharmaceutical companies,” Williams said. “Let’s work on getting them out of Puerto Rico and foreign countries.” He said companies still get tax breaks in Puerto Rico, and he is not seeking to remove the companies.
“I’m looking to create incentives for them to leave Puerto Rico and come to Miami Gardens,” Williams said. “Remove means forced to do something. I’m giving them a business opportunity to come to Miami Gardens.”
Williams said the measure would benefit not only Miami Gardens.
“It could be anywhere in the district, wherever they come it’ll be for the area,” Williams said. Williams works part-time as an interventionist at Carol City Senior High School. His time on non-profit and state agency boards, such as Informed Families and the Department of Children and Families, respectively, prepared him to be a state lawmaker, he said.
“I don’t have to learn the job; I know the job,” he said.
A lot of things need to be changed at the Florida Department of Children and Families but he also believes the agency is moving in the right direction.
“I think there needs to be more connection between school districts, DCF and parenting,” Williams said. “There’s a breakdown somewhere. I’m not talking about how to raise kids. I’m talking about when parents come to the school saying I don’t know what to do with my kid or they’re afraid of their kid. There’s gotta be some solution to support parents.”
CHARTER SCHOOL CHATTER
Williams too wants some control on charter schools – this time in their wallets.
“I think this charter school thing is just way, way out of control. Charter schools don’t play with the same set of rules public schools do. Right now I would vote against public money going to charter schools,” he said.
Hinds likes charter schools but said public schools also perform their duty well.
“I like charter schools. I’m not saying let’s take away money from public schools but I’m a fan of charter schools,” Hinds said. “I’m a fan of schools that educate properly; public schools do that well, charter schools do that well.”
Hinds is 48 years old, from New York and of Jamaican heritage. He is a realtor with a license to sell life and health insurance and a former banker. His public service time includes volunteering in Broward homeless shelters; conducting food distribution in churches with the Police Athletic League of Miramar Police Department; and sitting on the city’s Planning & Zoning board for the past six years.
Hinds withdrew from his previous attempt at public office in February 2019 because of a “personal family matter.” Before that he ran for a seat on the Miramar council in 2015 but lost to Max Chambers.
Hinds is a Democrat who supports abortion in cases of rape and incest though he is personally against the procedure. He supports Medicaid expansion, stricter gun-access laws, comprehensive sex education in high schools and increasing teacher pay. He plans to lean on his work experience and think of lawmaking like the first day on the job.
“Writing a law would be like my first day of being a realtor, or banking or life insurance annuity agent. You have to first do your research, ask questions, take your knowledge, your experiences your intellect and you put it into play,” Williams said.
Candidates can qualify for the District 102 seat from noon on Monday, June 15, 2020 to noon Friday, June 19, 2020.