Four candidates running for Broward Supervisor of Elections gave their pitches to one of the county’s largest voting blocs Wednesday night.
About 100 members of the Kings Point Democratic Club in Tamarac listened to the candidates’ ideas to increase election security and voter turnout, as well as reduce voter suppression.
The election will be closely watched because of the scandal-plagued history of Broward elections — which were the center of controversy in 2000, 2016 and 2018, It is the supervisors of elections’ job is to oversee the casting of ballots and voter registration.
Former Supervisor Brenda Snipes was suspended by-then Gov. Rick Scott for losing ballots during the recount of the 2018 elections and for failing to report the results of the recount on time. Miscounts in the Broward polls may have cost Al Gore the presidency in 2000, and Russian interference in the 2016 national elections has been confirmed.
The four candidates who spoke in Tamarac included Mitch Ceasar, a former Broward Democratic Party chairman and former Kings Point resident; Joe Scott, a technologist and former Army captain; Chad Klitzman, an attorney who served in the White House Office of Management and Administration under President Obama; and Ruth Carter-Lynch, a businesswoman. Tim Lonergan, a current Oakland Park commissioner, is also running but did not attend.
Each candidate had three minutes to give a speech and two minutes to answer questions. The event hit a sour note when board members cut off Joe Scott –who spoke seconds after Ceasar– after his three minutes ended. He claimed Democratic clubs give more time to Ceasar because of his record as the Broward Democratic Party chairman.
“They just let him talk for 10 to 15 minutes,” Scott said after the meeting. “And then the rest of us got two minutes to speak, so it is just really unfair.”
In reality, Ceasar only went 30 seconds beyond his allotted time.
The club wanted candidates to focus on their proposals instead of the other candidates. Marger told candidates must focus on addressing their proposals and goals instead of targeting other candidates.
Voter suppression and election security were the most salient issues discussed. All said that the courts and legislature decide whether felons can vote without fees, but the supervisor should advocate for that population.
Other proposals included updating the supervisor’s office, making public buses free on election day, and preparing for possible cyberattacks.
Ceasar also clarified that current supervisor Peter Antonacci will oversee this year’s general election in November. The candidate who wins will take over in 2021. Antonacci was appointed in 2018 by Gov. Scott to replace Snipes.
The five candidates are Democrats. Carla A. Spalding was the only Republican running, but she withdrew in November and is now challenging U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her congressional district seat.
Of the five, Ceasar has raised the most money, leading with $125,193, public reports show. Klitzman and Scott follow with $98,767 and $30,000 respectively, and Carter-Lynch and Lonergan have raised less than $16,000 despite launching their campaigns in April 2019.
The candidates differed on how they would run the suopervisor’s office, but they agreed on one thing: they want to make sure that all votes are counted in one of the bluest counties in Florida.
Some club members said the meeting helped them meet the candidates. Judy Camel, a club board member, was glad the candidates discussed real issues related to the supervisor’s duties.