by Howard Campbell
LAUDERHILL – A 30-year resident of Lauderhill, Richard Campbell is part of the city’s massive Jamaican community. But as he campaigns to be its mayor, he is not taking things for granted.
His opponent in the November 8 Midterm elections is incumbent and fellow Democrat Ken Thurston, an African-American who has been in office since 2018.
Jamaicans account for a large bloc of Lauderhill’s 75,000 populace, but Campbell warns that does not guarantee victory.
“The challenge is, how many of these people are legal voters and the other thing is, how many of them are inspired to vote. We do have the numbers but how effective are we in getting them to vote,” Campbell, who is in his mid-60s, said in an interview with South Florida Caribbean News.
For an example, he pointed to last November’s Democrat run-off between Jamaican Dale Holness and Haitian-American Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick to represent District 20 in the United States Congress.
Holness lost by five votes. Campbell said 10,000 registered Jamaican-Americans in Lauderhill did not show up at the polls.
What Campbell is looking to bring him victory is almost 30 years of service to a city known as ‘Jamaica Hill’ because of its strong Jamaican flavor. He was a city commissioner for two years (2018-20), president of his homeowners association and founder of the Caribbean-American Soccer Association.
Lowering taxes, improving Lauderhill’s infrastructure and lifting home ownership are the main themes of Campbell’s campaign. He believes the latter is critical to the city’s immediate future.
“The issue of affordable housing is an issue, home ownership is an issue. There are are a significant amount of apartment projects that the residents are not owners of these condos, and therefore it affects the quality of life in these areas, ” Campbell noted. “If you don’t own something you don’t have pride in taking care of it, so we definitely need to increase home ownership.”
Campbell is from rural St. Thomas parish in eastern Jamaica. He was a teacher and trade unionist prior to migrating to the United States.
In the most important race featuring a Caribbean candidate in the Midterms, Campbell’s compatriot, Democrat Karen Green, seeks to make history as the first Jamaican to sit in the US Congress.