Black Men Politicians are Stepping up in Miami Politics and Moving The Powerful Women Out
A brash, young generation of black politicians is slowly wrestling power away from the old guard beholden to developers, corporate executives and lobbyists. And that is great for Miami’s African American community.
For too long, pols like former Congresswoman Carrie Meek and ex-county commissioners Betty Ferguson and Barbara Carey-Shuler kept a tight leash on Miami black politics, deciding who would be their heirs and snuggling up to the likes of Ron Book, the multi-millionaire lawyer whose client roster has included the Miami Dolphins, AT&T, Autonation, the University of Miami and even local governments, including Miami-Dade County. Meek, Ferguson and Carey-Shuler paved the way for their successors Congresswoman Fredrica Wilson and county commissioners Barbara Jordan and Audrey Edmonson, respectively. They have never met a lobbyist or developer whose money they wouldn’t take.
But ever since Keon Hardemon was elected to the Miami City Commission in 2013, a small group of rising black pols are setting a new agenda. Hardemon, along with State Sen. Oscar Braynon II, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert and recently elected School Board Member Steve Gallon III are sending the message that Miami’s African American neighborhoods are no longer for sale to the highest bidders.
As chairman of the Miami City Commission, Hardemon has extracted tens of millions of dollars from developers in Overtown and Wynwood that will be used for housing and economic aid in the city’s most blighted neighborhood. Two years ago, Gilbert championed a city lawsuit against the Dolphins that led to a voter referendum earlier this year giving Miami Gardens the power to regulate development at the team’s Hard Rock Stadium. Braynon, who fought for a new state program that distributes clean needles to drug addicts for free, recently won the minority leadership post for the 15-member Democratic legislative caucus. And Gallon, after beating longtime incumbent Wilbert T. Holloway, succeeded in passing school board legislation that will fix failing schools in the inner city.
These new political jacks followed a similar blueprint I used when I ran for county mayor in 2011 to appeal to young voters thirsty for change. Don’t be surprised if you see Hardemon, Gilbert, Braynon and Gallon move up the political ladder and take the seats currently occupied by Jordan and Edmonson I may run for Frederica Wilson seat I’m the only person that can go to Washington and deal with those dudes.
Change didn’t happen under Obama. But with these guys, it will.
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