South Florida 912 Leader’s Picks

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Disclaimer: These election selections are the personal choices of the South Florida 912 leadership team, not an endorsement by the organization. Many members have asked for such a guide, as an aid to their own research. As such, we are asking you to look at our picks, read our rationale, then choose for yourself.

Race Our Choice Rationale
US Senate Marco Rubio Marco Rubio, a champion of the American Dream, the Constitution, and limited government, is determined to restore Washington to sanity. He said it best: “If you are happy with the way things are going in DC then don’t pick me”. Kendrick Meek, although a decent politician, is closely aligned with Obama/Pelosi. In our view, Charlie Crist has no principles to speak of and is unworthy of the public trust.
Governor / Lt. Gov. Rick Scott / Jennifer Carroll Although Rick Scott has some baggage from his previous endeavors and has been damaged in the primary fight, he most embodies the conservative principles that we need to deal with the budget and declining economy. Alex Sink is not as liberal as many Democrats and has reasonable management credentials, but would not pursue the kinds of state challenges to the federal government we need in the coming years. It is also important to have a conservative in the Governor’s seat during redistricting.
Attorney General Pam Bondi Despite an earlier life as a Democrat, Pam Bondi has a conservative mindset and will continue with the health lawsuit and other 10th amendment challenges to an over reaching federal government. Democrat Dan Gelber has displayed his hostility to the healthcare lawsuit brought by AG Bill McCollum and can not be expected to continue it if elected. He is also opposed to the Arizona Immigration law. For these reasons, Bondi is our choice.
CFO No Pick Democrat Loranne Ausley has made some interesting proposals regarding agency IG independence, but as CFO would not be in a position to act on them. Her campaign has mostly consisted of attacking Atwater on the failure of Riverside National and proximity to the Greer scandals. Jeff Atwater deserves some of the criticism, and has not been a reliable conservative as Senate President, (eg. Sunrail). FLIMEN opposes him for blocking immigration reform in the Senate (e-verify). The two NPA candidates in the race – Ken Mazzie and Tom Stearns have financial credentials but little record or stated platform. We would prefer “none of the above” and therefore have no recommendation for CFO.
AG Commissioner Adam Putnam Adam Putnam has been a reliable conservative Congressman representing district 12, and a member of the Republican leadership. As AG commissioner he will protect the food supply, look out for consumers, and protect the 2nd amendment. His opponent, former state Democrat Party Chairman Scott Maddox, is an attorney and former lobbyist who wants to use the post to promote his vision of alternative energy. Most farmers and Ag business owners support Putnam. TEA candidate Ira Chester wants to forever stop offshore drilling. NPA candidate Thad Hamilton has a platform with little to do with agriculture. Adam Putnam is the clear choice.
US Congress 16 Tom Rooney Jim Horn is an interesting Democrat – more conservative than most (as fits this district), would roll back spending to 2008 levels, does not support Obamacare, and is running against Washington. He is on the right side of most of the issues that matter. We hope he plans to stay in the game and influence policy, but he is a strange fit with today’s “progressive” democrats who will continue to wreak havoc as long as they are in the majority. Tom Rooney has been a reliable conservative in his first term and has voted against the Obama agenda. He deserves to be returned to Washington.
US Congress 19 Joe Budd Ted Deutch, in his 6 months on the job has proven to be a reliable, Nancy Pelosi Democrat. With the support of the district’s reliable democrat majority, he has the advantage of numbers. Joe Budd on the other hand, sees the dangers of the Obama agenda and has been strongly making the case that those policies are bad for seniors, bad for Israel, and bad for America. He is a political newcomer, a financial advisor by trade, and a small business owner. Joe “gets it”, most embodies the values of 912, and may yet pull a major upset.
US Congress 22 Allen West Ron Klein has served 2 terms. During that time he has voted with Nancy Pelosi almost always, voted for the $800B stimulus that put money in the pockets of democrat special interests, supports the government takeover of healthcare, the auto industry, insurance, school loans, and the energy industry (cap and trade). He opposes extending the Bush tax cuts for all, and has shown extreme contempt for his constituents during the policy debates of 2009, refusing to hold a public town hall. He is the poster child of what is wrong with Obama’s America and must be defeated. Allen West on the other hand has a vision of America that is a force for good in the world, champions the creativity and energy of individuals involved in private industry, and warns us against the tipping point then those who receive from the government outnumber those who pay. He is a decorated Army veteran, and an outstanding congressional candidate. The choice in this race is at the fulcrum of the choice the country must make between “exceptional America” and “the end of the dream”. Hope that we choose wisely.
US Congress 23 Bernard Sansaricq Alcee Hastings has been in Congress too long. A former impeached federal judge, he is a European style socialist that seems to spend more time in Europe on “world government” issues than he does in Washington. Bernard Sansaricq, a former leader of the Haitian Senate, is a remarkable conservative candidate with Caribbean roots. Like Allen West and Joe Budd, he embodies the choice between the exceptional America we have embraced and the dark future of European socialism represented by the Obama Agenda. Another race with a clear choice.
State Senate 25 Ellyn Bogdanoff This Senate seat, vacated by Jeff Atwater, is being contested by very different candidates. Kelly Skidmore, formerly of House district 90 has little record of electoral success, having bested a field of 4 in 2006 by winning only 29% of the vote (3775 votes!). She was unopposed in 2008. This year she has the support of the unions (AFL-CIO, SEIU and the PBA most prominently). She leans decidedly left, but her campaign has been very sparse on policy positions. Ellyn Bogdanoff, a member of the house leadership, has been a reliable conservative on most things (although she did vote for Sunrail, and accept Federal stimulus dollars eagerly to close the budget gap). She is the choice of most of the business groups, and advocates a lower tax environment to attract business to the state. We believe Ellyn is the better choice to help guide Florida back to fiscal health.
State Senate 27 Lizbeth Benacquisto This is a diverse district, encompassing parts of Palm Beach, Glades, Charlotte and Lee counties. Democrat Kevin Rader’s leading issue is seeking more federal dollars to bailout the unemployment system, “invest” in infrastructure, and develop “green” energy. He opposed the ultrasound bill and attempts to privatize parts of Medicaid. Lizbeth Benacquisto, formerly on the Wellington council, believes that government does not create jobs, but can improve the climate for businesses to do so. She would like to see lower taxes, and believes a solution to our immigration problems is to enforce the laws already on the books. Lizbeth is our best choice of the two, but she has raised taxes as a Councilwoman, and has not always clearly articulated her conservative credentials. One of our leaders dissented on this pick.
State Representative 83 Pat Rooney Mark Marciano is a well spoken doctor and small business owner who would like to see the state prioritize spending to encourage development in areas beyond tourism, agriculture, and building. A legal immigrant from Canada himself, he has a valuable perspective on the immigration debate, and his medical training have prepared him for the health care debate. He is, unfortunately, opposed to any drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and would prefer to spend tax money to encourage uneconomical projects in alternative energy. Pat Rooney, not the most dynamic candidate in the race who seems to suffer from an energy gap, nevertheless has the most reasonable positions. He supports an Arizona style immigration law, and seeks to control state spending by eliminating overlapping departments. Interestingly, he has been endorsed by organizations that lean left (PBA, Voters Coalition) and right (NRA, business groups). He is our choice, although not a strong one, and one of our leaders dissented on the pick.
State Representative 84 No Pick In this race, neither candidate has a campaign website with any content, making comparison on issues difficult. Democrat Mack Bernard won this seat by amassing around 700 votes in a special election (1180 votes cast) after Priscilla Taylor left it to accept appointment to the county commission. A former Delray councilman, he does not always vote party line, and supports teacher performance measurements. He has good ratings from state business groups, and supports the inland port proposal, and is seeking unspecified “revenue sources” for his constituents. Surprisingly for a Democrat, Mack opposes red light cameras. Albert Key, a political newcomer but lifetime resident of the district, believes the inland port will never happen and thinks the district should look elsewhere for economic development. He would like to eliminate the state’s intangible tax on business. We do not feel we know enough about either of these candidates to make a recommendation.
State Representative 85 Tami Donnally Joe Abruzzo, at this writing, still has only “coming soon” on his website, making comparisons difficult. His campaign literature is also ‘content free” on the issues. He is a first term legislator however, with a record of proposing new spending plans ($700K for “hospitality education”, $175M state level stimulus), and more regulations like requiring helmets when riding horses on public roads. Persistently seeking “revenue”, he wants to tax internet gambling. Tami Donnally, a longtime 912 member, has been consistent in her conservative message, seeking job creation through lower taxes and fees and stability in regulations, a balanced budget without temporary federal stimulus, and protecting our way of life. She feels improving education should be a top priority and seeks an Arizona-style immigration law combined with an improved guest worker program. In this year of “throw the bums out”, it is time for new blood in District 85.
State Representative 87 Bill Hager Hava Holzhauer (“Hava for the House”), an assistant state’s attorney is articulate, energetic, and very liberal. At the Voter’s Coalition, she blamed the economic woes in Florida on the Republicans in Tallahassee – a bit of a stretch. She is against offshore drilling, and wants to spend taxpayer money on questionable “green” technologies. Hava is endorsed by SEIU and AFL-CIO. Former Boca councilman Bill Hager wants to lower taxes, and end wasteful government spending (don’t we all?) but his website is short on specifics. At the SFTP forum he said we should approach businesses in high tax states like NY and NJ to lure them to Florida. He favors an Arizona-like immigration law. Not too hard a choice.
State Representative 89 Steven Rosenblum Jeff Clemens, a former mayor of Lake Worth, strongly opposes offshore drilling, wants tax breaks for “green jobs”, and would abolish the FCAT. He feels the level of per student spending in Florida is so low it is an “embarrassment”. He loved the federal stimulus and wants more of it for Florida. Steve Rosenblum is almost the polar opposite on these issues, supporting drilling since China and others will soon be drilling off Cuba and the Bahamas, but would put rigs far enough to not be visible from the beach. He supports an Arizona-style immigration law (Clemens fears “racial profiling”), would like to lower property taxes in favor of a higher sales tax, and wants to audit the budget, then move to zero-based budgeting at the state level. Again – not too hard a choice.
State Representative 90 Alison Rampersad A previous occupant of this seat, Democrat Irving Slosberg wants to “get back to work” after alienating many and being repudiated by voters in a 2006 senate bid. Endorsed this time by most south county democrat politicians, SEIU, AFSCME and the Broward teachers union, he is expected to be a reliable liberal. Raising the driving age to 17 is a top priority. Lynn University professor Alison Rampersad, a political newcomer, is a limited government conservative that favors private sector solutions. She considers herself a “citizen legislator”, not interested in a career in politics, and would restore honesty and transparency to government.
County Commission 2 Sherry Lee 16 year School Board member Paulette Burdick claims to be for lower taxes but has been conspicuously absent in the fight against the 2011 budget. Always hovering at the BCC meetings, she never speaks or goes on the record. Her website is remarkably content-free and seems to be calling for ethics initiatives that have already happened. Realtor and business owner Sherry Lee on the other hand has been fighting excessive spending by the county for many years, and is a founding member of TAB (PBC Taxpayer Action Board). Endorsed by the Palm Beach Post (remarkable for a Republican) who believes new blood should fill this open seat, she could begin to tip the balance of power on the BCC and bring back responsible government to the county after a long absence.
County Commission 6 Jess Santamaria Incumbent Jess Santamaria is opposed by Republican John Carrol, a retired PBSO captain, and Andy Schaller, an independent with a long running feud with the commissioner. Carroll has not been very visible during the campaign, and his latest youtube video is remarkably content-free, but he has been endorsed by commissioner Steven Abrams and some other republicans. Although an early participant in TAB, Andy Schaller has vague statements on his website that implies possible support for the fire/rescue sales tax if it returns in 2012. His campaign of late has turned into a vendetta against Santamaria, filing numerous ethics charges against the commissioner. Jess Santamaria voted against the budget this year, but was really not serious about making necessary budget cuts. That said, we support his drive against corruption in the county and his role in defining independence into the Inspector General ordinance. He is also responsible for drawing a lot of 912 members into advocacy on local issues. Given that, we recommend Jess Santamaria be returned to the commission, even though we are at odds on many issues.
County Commission 7 Priscilla Taylor Vince Goodman is a Republican running in a district that is about 16% Republican and is not likely to prevail. That aside, he also has a few positions that we would challenge – namely firm opposition to any budget cuts, opposition to TABOR measurements, and support for an elected county administrator. Priscilla Taylor was appointed to the seat by Charlie Crist on the departure of Addie Greene and is now standing for election. She is at least open to budget cuts but would refuse to consider any layoffs. She voted for the budget this year, but has called for the county charter review that could have some positive ramifications. We therefore recommend that Priscilla Taylor be returned to the commission.
School Board 3 William G. (Bill) Graham Karen Brill seemed like an interesting candidate in this non-partisan race, until she stated at the League of Woman Voters forum that she opposes charter schools and would never consider such a thing as vouchers. Bill Graham, although he is a long time board member during a time of questionable performance by the school system, retains an open mind to new ideas and is the better candidate.
School Board 4 Anne Kanjian Jennie Prior Brown comes to the school board race after an extensive career as a federal prosecutor, both in Florida and Washington, DC. Her endorsements include business groups (BIZPAC, RAPB) and left leaning organizations (SEIU, AFL-CIO). She is interested in shifting funds from bureaucrats to teachers, but is not specific in her proposals. Anne Kanjian, a real estate professional, knows the school district from a parent’s perspective and as board member of the PTA. Her policy proposals include better oversight of the Superintendent, and recognizing and dealing with the budget challenges coming up. Many of her issue positions (such as the relationship of FCAT to the scoring of schools) are well thought out and show intellectual depth. Jennie Brown on the other hand sticks with platitudes on her website. For this reason we choose Anne Kanjian over Jennie Brown, in spite of Brown’s resume.
School Board 6 Marcia Andrews Dean Grossman’s focus at his appearance before the Voter’s Coalition was on stopping bullying and adding “life skills” to the curriculum. Given the problems facing the PBC school system, these would seem to be secondary concerns. His website lists policy objectives but little detail. Marcia Andrews on the other hand has extensive experience in the district – as a teacher, principle, and district level HR executive. Her very impressive resume adds to her presence – she is someone who means business and gets things done. Her website has an extensive list of well thought out policy priorities. Not a hard choice.
Supreme Court – Retain Charles Canady? YES Crist appointment – no known issues.
Supreme Court – Retain Jorge Labarga? NO Crist appointment – voted to remove health care amendment from the ballot.
Supreme Court – Retain James E.C. Perry? NO Crist appointment – voted to remove health care amendment from the ballot.
Supreme Court – Retain Ricky L. Polston? YES Crist appointment – no known issues.
4th Circuit COA – Retain Cory J. Ciklin? YES No significant negatives found. Dissent on Mitsubishi case but valid point of view.
4th Circuit COA – Retain Dorian K. Damoorgian? YES No significant negatives found.
4th Circuit COA – Retain Jonathan D. Gerber? YES No significant negatives found. Stood up to David Boies.
4th Circuit COA – Retain Robert M. Gross? YES No significant negatives found.
4th Circuit COA – Retain Spencer D. Levine? YES No significant negatives found.
4th Circuit COA – Retain Melanie G. May? YES No significant negatives found.
County Court, Group 7 Laurie Stilwell Cohen Laurie Cohen has an impressive mix of experience, including business, law practice and public official as a Wellington Councilwoman – all would be helpful for the kind of cases decided by County Court judges. Marni Bryson less so as she has been primarily a litigator. Both would make fine judges but we believe Laurie Cohen’s background gives her the edge.
A1 – Repeal Public Financing YES Public financing of political campaigns is a throwback to an earlier era. Viable candidates for statewide office will attract sufficient funding to not require public funds. Cost of statewide campaigns will routinely exceed public financing limits. End it now.
A2 – Additional Homestead for Military YES A reasonable price to pay to assist military serving abroad.
A4 – Ballot for land use changes NO If this amendment passes it will bring development (and economic activity) to a screeching halt. It gives power to the extreme environmental groups at the expense of everyone else. Currently, more than 334 organizations, associations, and local governments, plus every daily newspaper in the state, have taken a position against this amendment.
A5 – Legislative redistricting standards NO Enactment of the confusing and contradictory standards mandated in Amendment 5 would increase the likelihood that any redistricting plan devised by the Florida Legislature would be subject to protracted litigation and would ultimately be replaced by a plan devised by appointed judges rather than by the people elected representatives.
A6 – Congressional redistricting standards NO See answer to A5, above.
A8 – Class size revision YES This will provide flexibility and lower costs to school districts without compromising student performance. The class size amendment should never have been passed, but since it has, this amendment can make it workable without extreme measures like those proposed by Superintendent Johnson.
Referendum for balanced federal budget YES This is non binding but sends a message of intent.
Ethics extended to cities YES If a majority of voters in a municipality approve this amendment, that jurisdiction becomes subject to the IG and ethics commission. This is a good thing.
School Tax extension NO Taxes are too high already and the school budget is bloated – too little is spent on teachers, too much on buildings and administration.


10 Responses to “South Florida 912 Leader’s Picks”
  1. George Figley says:

    The “Obama Care program must be recinded, as must be Cap and Trade. All new candidates must be elected and term limits must be enacted to save this country. all of the Greens are for the most part, communists who went underground in the 80’s and are bent on destroying this nation. There is more oil in this world than they would admit to and anyone who takes the time to check this out, knows that.The north and south Dakota fields alone could supply enough cheap oil for this country for the next 100 years and we could tell Saudi Arabia to sell to someone else.

  2. David Z. Eunice David says:

    I support this slate, even though I am not as certain on some of the picks and would like to know more about some of the candidates… especially the Judges… I have a feeling that many Judges get the nod to pass without deserving it, only because we don’t know how they have ruled on many cases. If you think Attorneys are Arrogant, Judges are attorneys. And with the mess we have by bad rulings… based on previous bad rulings, then I’m more inclined than the average individual to shake up the system and send the Courts a message that we demand more caring judges. They problem is… we don’t want to get rid of the good and caring judges… and we don’t know who they are. So we end up keeping the jerks we would rather have gone, in order to keep the few good judges that we have.

    On a more upbeat note; I met Jennifer Carroll in Deland, Florida this afternoon and she is delightful. She cinched my vote. She is an articulate, and attractive lady. She seems to be the type of caring individual who we need in office. I especially want to support the major players on this slate, and I am willing to make calls to the Village of Palm Springs voters if someone has a list they can supply me for that area.

    I also support my long time friend, and college chum, Bill Graham, he is one of the few incumbents that I support. I hope I am not allowing my affinity for Bill to cloud my judgment of him and his abilities as a candidate. I just believe he is more open minded than his opponent seems to be. For the most part I am looking for new faces with fresh ideas; and people who haven’t gotten too attached with the good old boy syndrome. And because of that I feel it is only fair to disclose my personal attachment in this vote recommendation so readers can take that into consideration when they make their selection.

    I believe we need people like Alan West to kick the Ron Klein kind out of office.

    I know Jess Santamaria is supposed to be a Corruption fighter, and that is why he received the pick in this list, and I like some of his alleged attitude in that regard. The one area I have reservation about him is that he has been personally informed about the Corruption in the Village of Palm Springs and has done nothing (to my knowledge) about correcting those problems. That old, “It’s not my job” or “It’s not in my jurisdiction” doesn’t cut it with me and a lot of other voters right now. In fact, that is why I’m supporting Pam Bondi for Attorney General, I think she will do much more about the Village of Palm Springs Corruption than Bill McCollum, Alex Sink, or Charlie Crist did. Those three talked a good game, but they didn’t score any points with me for their lack of action. If we want better government… it is up to us to demand it. So I question if Santamaria is as good a pick as we have to offer… and leave it up to you to decide.

  3. David Z. Eunice David says:

    I highly recommend Sherry Lee, and encourage all of my friends to vote for her. I didn’t include her in my other comments because I want her to stand out like a beautiful flower among the weeds. Please give her your full attention. She will be worth your going to the poles , if you only go to support her. And for many people I am recommending that you vote early to avoid the rush. This is the year to vote for people who are not incumbents. And if you’re not sure… Remember to vote NO in November. No to 2,4,5, and 6. If you don’t know, vote No. You’ll be glad you did.

    Thank you.

    David Z. Eunice

    • Jason says:

      Why would you vote no to give military families an extra homestead exemption? Is that not the least we can do to show our appreciation? Shame on you…

  4. EdFulop Ed Fulop says:

    just checked off my sample ballot today with all of the picks!

  5. Mary Longo says:

    A note of appreciation and recognition certainly is due to the Leadership Team for providing their comments. Above all, I can’t help but immediately notice the 9.12 virtues in the manner of presentation. Well, um, OK, so I was a bit dismayed to see one of my choices gored (Jeff Atwater), but looking for reasoned comment is why I came here in the first place. My sincerest Thank you. –Mary L

  6. Donna says:

    Thank you so much for helping us. I knew you all would have the explanations we needed for the amendments. We appreciate you all very much.

  7. Dottie says:

    This voting guide is much appreciated. I am especially glad to read the commentaries on the judges and
    school board candidates. It is hard to keep up on all of them. A change of leadership is needed in many areas but it will not solve all of the problems. The hearts of the American people must also be changed to reflect once again the values and attitudes of our beginning Judeo-Christian Faith. God Bless America!!!

  8. ken finkleman says:

    Thanks for the info it helped with our choices. We will be voting yes for the military amendment.

  9. I have had a lot of feedback on the leaders picks and most of it positive. Please go out and vote! Bring a few friends.

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