Contrasting Primary Results for Veteran Jamaican Politicians in South Florida
by Howard Campbell
SOUTH FLORIDA – Caribbean-American eyes were focused on the August 24 Florida Primary Elections. When the ballots were tallied, two Jamaican veterans came away with contrasting results.
Dale Holness lost his bid to represent District 20 in the United States Congress when he was soundly beaten by fellow Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick. She got 47,536 (66 per cent) of the vote to his 20,749 (29 per cent).
Anika Omphroy, whose parents are Jamaican, was third with 4,194 votes (six per cent).
It was Holness’ second loss in 10 months to Cherfilus-McCormick, a first-generation Haitian-American. He lost by five votes in the run-off to succeed Alcee Hastings, the longstanding representative for District 20 who died in April, 2021.
Holness has served for nearly 20 years at various levels in Broward County including mayor and county commissioner. The 65 year-old has not made an official statement on his future plans.
Dr. Alan Cunningham, an influential member of South Florida’s Jamaican Diaspora, has known Holness for almost 20 years. He hailed his contribution to the Caribbean Diaspora.
“Dale Holness represents the pinnacle of Caribbean and Jamaican politics. A champion for minorities especially women and minority-owned businesses. His work ethic speaks for itself. It is a pity that he was unable to corral the voters in his direction. We all know the debacle surrounding his daughter and a member of his campaign team and this gives rise to credibility. Nonetheless, his greatest accomplishment is in making sure that persons of Caribbean descent were able to achieve their citizenship irrespective of financial challenges,” Cunningham noted.
Dale Holness Challenges
Holness’ daughter Damara was given a 20-month prison sentence in January for Paycheck Protection Fraud. Omar Smith, who was once part of his campaign, pleaded guilty in May to lying on a COVID-19 relief loan application. As a result, fraudulently obtaining hundreds of thousands of dollars intended to assist small businesses affected by the pandemic.
Democrat Karen Green, who was born in Jamaica, will face Republican Cory Mills in November’s election to represent Florida’s 7th Congressional District. Her 23,032 votes carried her to a handy win over Al Krulick 10,782 votes, 21 per cent), Hilsia Fernandez (10,254 votes, 20 per cent) and Allek Pastrana (7,284, 14 per cent).
Green and Mills face-off to succeed Democrat Stephanie Murphy, who is not seeking re-election. If she is successful, Green will be the first Jamaican in the US Congress.
Lauderdale Lakes mayor Hazelle Rogers easily won a seat for commissioner for Broward County District 9. She defeated Guithele Ruiz-Nicolas 19,777 votes (71 per cent) to 7,978 (29 per cent).
Rogers is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives.
Danielle Cohen-Higgins, whose parents are Jamaican, easily retained her place as Miami-Dade County Commissioner for District 8. She got 10,992 votes (57 per cent) to Karen Baez-Wallis’ 4,425 (23 per cent) and Alicia Arellano who received 3,938 votes (20 per cent).