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Sun Times Feature Story

Local Election Grabs Spotlight

By Larry Blustein
   As the focus statewide surrounded the race for governor - that will play out in November - when the much-anticipated race between Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist will face-off, what Tuesday was truly about, especially in this region, were the local races.
   Non larger locally was County Commission Seat  6 -  where two Democrats -  Quentin "Beam" Furr, a longtime Hollywood Commissioner, went against one-time Hallandale Beach Commissioner and State Rep. Joe Gibbons.
   At a time when visibility and being close to home 365 days a year has become more important, as many candidates will find out in November, it worked for Furr on Tuesday. Receiving 56% of the vote, he will now move to battle for the vacancy left by Sue Gunzburger, who occupied the seat for more than two decades and is leaving due to term limits.
   Furr, who is a librarian at Flanagan High in Pembroke Pines, served on the Hollywood Commission from 2000 to 2012, garnered 4,633 votes to Gibbons' 3,562.
   "It came down to never seeing or hearing about Mr. Gibbons locally," Randi Carlin of Hallandale Beach said. "I have lived here for 10 years and never met the man. The only time I have heard about him was around election time, and that should send a message to those running in November."
   While Furr has been in the spotlight locally, the knock on Gibbons - and many who had the larger picture in mind, if you run locally, you need to come out and see the people you are going to serve. Coming out during election time certainly does not cut it - and that message will lay heavily when things get more serious in November - especially with local elections.
   "I am looking forward to the November election for a number of reasons," Mike Williams of Hollywood explained. "These people who are running for office and believe that they can do nothing for the community and never show for different community events that define and shapes their area, are going to be failures. They spend time getting people to vote for them - while having a hollow platform to stand on. If you vote for candidates like that, you get terrible leaders."
   While Gibbons has done tremendous things for  this area over the years, it did come to his lack of being in the news and attending numerous local events where people often gather. Furr has never  stopped being the face locally, and that is what truly propelled him against his  fellow Democrat.
  While the weeks leading up to Tuesday's primary election in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties were slow when it came to the early voting process, things picked up a little bit more yesterday.
   Still, low voter interest and turnout, which has been evident for the past few years, kept many away from the process that will eventually play out for the General and Municipal Elections on Tuesday, Nov. 4.
   It was indeed a vital day for those looking to grab party nominations that will give them three full months to continue campaigning for the coveted seats.
   A Universale Primary is a contest in a primary election in which all candidates have the same party affiliation and the winner will have no opposition in the general election. All qualified electors may vote in a Universal Primary contest regardless of party affiliation.

   This race came down to veteran and popular  Oscar Braynon, II and newcomer Anis Auguste Blemur, who based his platform on the "regular working guy", who came from Haiti and made the American Dream come true with hard work and a proven business plan.
   While everyone embraces change, Tuesday spoke volumes what Braynon has done for the residents and local communities. His 21,237 votes was nearly 70% of the final count - and will give him a huge advantage on a position that since 2011.

   The voters also spoke on Tuesday, choosing Joe  Geller (3,270) over fellow Democrats Benjamin Sorensen (1,051) and aggressive newcomer John Paul Alvarez, who received 989 votes.
   Geller is a longtime leader in South Florida. A prominent attorney who was a leader with the American Jewish Congress, Geller led the Miami-Dade Democrats for more than 10 years and served two terms as North Bay Village mayor.

   Change gave way to veteran and proven leadership on Tuesday - with 71-year-old political veteran Frederica Wilson running away with nearly 81% of the vote (35,280) against fellow Democrat Michael Etienne (8,595).