News Sunshine State

It’s a record: 8 LGBT candidates running for Florida legislature

Written by Richard Hack

David Richardson is finally about to get some compadres in the Florida State legislation. Since 2012, Richardson has been the only openly gay state legislator out of a total of 160. That, however, is all about to change with a record number of eight LGBT candidates running for a legislative seat.

Locally in Broward County, Paulette Armstead and Ken Keechl are setting their sights on Tallahassee. Armstead is running to represent District 92, encompassing Pompano Beach, Oakland Park, Tamarac, Margate and sections of Fort Lauderdale including Lake Ridge, Coral Ridge, Victoria Park and Rio Vista.

Ken Keechl (pictured) is a candidate in District 93, covering the beach areas of Deerfield, Pompano, Lauderdale-By-the Sea, Oakland Park, Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, as well as a small eastern bit of Wilton Manors.

The State Legislature is clearly broken,” Armstead says, “and there are too few strong, ethical voices on behalf of the middle class, education, and local businesses. I will use my broad community experience and background to help Democrats expand their fight for workers, children, and the elderly.”

Keechl says, “My opponent has spent the last six years in Tallahassee voting for every piece of anti-woman and anti-LGBT legislation to cross his desk, to allow the dangerous practice of fracking, and to cut education funding by $1.3 billion, all the while denying the looming threat of climate change to our community. When I’m in Tallahassee, I will fight for the rights of every Floridian no matter who they love, their gender, or their ethnicity, to find responsible solutions to combat the threat of climate change and to ban fracking, and to provide our public schools with the resources our students and teachers need to give every child the excellent education they deserve. It’s time to take the power back from the special interests and put the people in charge in again.”

In Miami-Dade, Michael Góngora and Kevin Burns face one another in the state senate race in District 38 currently held by Sen. Gwen Margolis who dropped out of the race she after called her five opponents “three Haitians, some teacher and some lawyer.”

“I will lead the charge for sensible, achievable victories in alleviating traffic and flooding, restoring quality and affordable education, and increasing jobs paying decent wages,” Góngora said in an official release. “I will hit the ground running to keep Floridians safe and to implement achievable solutions to obstacles currently impeding Floridians from fulfilling their American Dream.”  Burns and Góngora face each other in the August 30 Florida primary for the seat, competing with four other candidates.

Carlos Guillermo Smith and Beth Tuura are running in the Orlando area with Jennifer Webb running in a district that covers parts of St. Petersburg.

“The more gays and lesbians that are involved on the floor of the House, the more the other side is going to see that we’re not different than anybody else,” Keechl told the Sun Sentinel.  It’s a very toxic environment to begin with, and we’re only there for two or three months (a year), but I’m hopeful that it can make a difference.”