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The Herald recommends: For Florida Senate, House



Oscar Braynon II has done well by his constituents as the state senator from District 36. This year, the first in a while with a budget surplus, Mr. Braynon says he secured millions for infrastructure and programs in his district, which straddles the Miami-Dade/Broward county line.

Mr. Braynon, 37, is being challenged by Anis Blemur, who has an MBA from Barry University and owns a consulting and accounting firm. This is his first run for office. Mr. Blemur, 47, says that the two parties must engage in dialogue: “It’s about issues,” he says, “not political parties.”

However, Mr. Braynon says that in the more-cooperative Senate, lawmakers reaching across the aisle is the standard way of conducting business on behalf of the people who sent them there. “There’s no such thing as a Republican or Democratic pothole,” Mr. Braynon told the Editorial Board. The state senator says that such relationships are key to securing funds not just for the district but also for the region.

Mr. Braynon served as a Miami Gardens Council member before being elected to the Florida House, and then the Senate. He secured money to install “Shot-Spotter” to help fight gun violence in the city. He brings an understanding of the district’s varied needs, from crime prevention to road and infrastructure improvements and, as an experienced lawmaker, is best equipped to find solutions. For state Senate District 36, the Miami Herald recommends OSCAR BRAYNON II.



Three men are running in the Democratic primary for this seat, which is being vacated by Rep. Joe Gibbons, who bumped up against term limits.

John Paul Alvarez, 30, is a teacher in Broward County Public Schools who says that he wants to bring a “no strings attached” approach to public service. Therefore, he says, his campaign is grassroots, and not beholden to “special interests.” Job creation and helping the middle class would be his legislative priorities. Attorney Joe Geller, 60, is a former North Bay Village mayor who ran unsuccessfully for the state House a few years ago. Ben Sorensen, 36, is president of a business-consulting firm, a former associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale and a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He supports expanding Medicaid and enhancing the use of renewable energy.

The Herald gives the nod to Mr. Geller. He knows this bi-county district well and it stands to benefit from his legislative priorities. These include, first and foremost, making windstorm and flood insurance more available and affordable, an issue very important in this district that runs along the coast. And he understands that the state must get serious about combating climate change.

It was also refreshing to hear Mr. Geller say that, as a member of the minority party, he’s willing to look at different approaches to achieve Democratic goals. For state House District 100, the Miami Herald recommends JOE GELLER.


Incumbent Barbara Watson, 64, elected in 2012 to represent what was then District 103, faces three challengers in this newly realigned district. Her challengers are former state Rep. Phillip J. Brutus, 56, retired teacher Dominique Simon, 70, and attorney Michael Joseph, 33.

The district extends south from the Broward County line and includes parts of Miami Gardens and North Miami, where some of the main issues are public safety, foreclosures and deficient infrastructure and public transportation.

Mr. Brutus, a former legislator who has run unsuccessful races for the County Commission, Florida Senate and Congress since 2006, said that he was running because he believed the incumbent was “not doing anything.” But Ms. Watson noted that she had sponsored a gun-control bill in 2013 that was approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott, a particularly neat trick for a Democrat in a Republican-controlled Legislature in gun-crazy Florida.

She said she would continue to look for issues where she could work with Republicans, but said she found many members of the other party unwilling to compromise.

Ms. Watson, whose record in elected office began as a Miami Gardens Council member in 2003, deserves another term. For state House District 107, the Miami Herald recommends BARBARA WATSON.

This story was originally published August 6, 2014 7:08 PM.

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