Tuesday’s primary election was a turning point in Broward’s history as the elected leadership of the county finally bears a resemblance to the people they represent. In an increasingly diverse county that has undergone swift and dramatic demographic changes, and where power has been controlled for too long by middle-aged white men, Black voters demanded Black representation and finally turned out in the numbers needed to ensure it.
The most diverse assemblage of elected county leaders in the state has been an awfully long time in coming. But now it’s here. Brenda Forman will be court clerk for four more years. Candidates of color also are in commanding positions to take over the offices of sheriff, state attorney, public defender and supervisor of elections, if they defeat their Republican or write-in opponents in November.
The results put to rest the myth that in today’s Broward, a Black candidate can’t win county-wide — the tired argument raised by those who oppose creating the position of an elected county mayor. Yet never has the need for a mayor been more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic, with public information so hard to come by. Every week, for example, the county holds a secret phone call with 31 mayors to share information the public would like to know. A mayor who’s answerable to the people would be sharing information about the COVID fallout and what’s being done to prevent it. The people have an absolute right to hear those life-and-death discussions.
What else happened Tuesday? It appears to have been the last hurrah for Broward’s Democratic old guard. Voters rejected three respected retired judges — and the county’s longest-serving Democratic Party chairman — who had sought new challenges. A well-known group of mostly east-side, old-school stalwarts also saw their influence wane, except for their support of Circuit Judge Patti Englander Henning, who deserved re-election.