Braman stands firm
6/11/2012, 8 a.m.
Backs challengers in County Commissioner race Longtime Miami businessman and recent activist Norman Braman, 79, has once again put his money where his mouth is identifying and backing a slate of candidates that will challenge incumbents from the Miami-Dade county commission in this summers primary election [August 14th]. But this isnt his first foray into the political arena. The wealthy auto executive led and financed the March 2011 recall of former Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and tag-teamed a recall drive against former County Commissioner Natacha Seijas. This time, his sights are set on four incumbents: Bruno Barreiro [District 5]; Audrey Edmonson [District 3]; Barbara Jordan [District 1]; and Dennis Moss [District 9]. Braman says he neither hand-picked nor forced individuals to run in the August 14 election. Rather he encouraged those with views similar to his own. The slate of contenders that Braman is backing include: State Representative Luis Garcia [District 5]; Alison Austin [District 3]; Shirley Gibson [District 1]; and Alice Pena [District 9]. Braman: Choice is the issue The way the system works, voters have not had a choice those [incumbents] who get tons of money from lobbyists and businesses from companies that do work with the county make it impossible for qualified candidates to mount a respectable campaign, he said. I am just trying to give the people of Miami-Dade County an opportunity to make an honest decision. Whatever the outcome, I will respect the will of the people. Braman adds that he did not seek out candidates to run against those incumbents whose ideas differ from his own in terms of how county government should run. I encouraged people to run because I believe in each of them, he said. But they are running their own campaigns. They, like me, were opposed to the give away of the Marlins Stadium. Its important to note that the jobs that were promised from the Marlins wound up going to people who could also speak Spanish. That eliminated most Blacks. Also, the folks Ive encouraged are opposed to raising property taxes and are all in favor of term limits. In terms of financing, I have contributed to two PACS. It will be their decision on how to best assist each of the candidates. Gibson: A believer in accountability Shirley Gibson will soon step down as mayor of Miami Gardens due to term limits. She says he was not recruited by Braman. The people of the district urged me to run for county commission; the more I thought about it the more I began to see that I could make a positive difference, she said. I have always supported better county government and accountability since first entering public office. As for the money that PACS provide, its important to understand that I have to raise my own money for this race. Whatever they give will be for commercials or educational efforts that get the word out about me and my message. Thats important for the voters. Braman and I both care about good government and good leadership and thats a positive thing. Austin, who also insists she was not recruited, says its unfortunate that so many people have made the race about Norman Braman. We can do a much better job of protecting the needs of the people, she said. If we are honest, choosing the needs of special interest [groups] over the peoples needs is a far worse form of being a puppet on a string. Braman recognizes the challenge of taking on an incumbent as an unfair playing field and he has chosen to level it by giving really good people a fighting chance. But Brian Dennis, executive director of Brothers of the Same Mind, sees things quite differently. Word is already out on the streets that these campaigns are going to get dirty, he said. I wish my community wouldnt let outsiders control it or themselves. But we already know when you have individuals who are desperate to help finish destroying our community just because they see dollar signs, we are all in big trouble. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com