Never been much into rap, but if the election were held today…
By Alvaro F. Fernandez
Voters in Miami-Dade get to elect a new mayor on Tuesday, May 24. Early voting begins next week. After all that has transpired – the recall of the mayor and a county commissioner – I would hate to see a poor turnout deciding who will steer the political fortunes of this community going forward.
As bad, I also believe, would be electing any of the current frontrunners: Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, or former state representative Marcelo Llorente – all with large sums to their names. Any one of the three would be a wasted vote, I believe. A case of much ado about nothing, as Shakespeare once wrote. We would end up replacing a recalled mayor with persons who come from the same place – and are receiving money from the same people who backed the ousted Carlos Alvarez.
I say this, too, because I am convinced Miami needs to head in a new direction. A place where new faces in politics start deciding how we handle the many problems we face. Difficulties too often caused by a system that fosters the same politicians, their cronies and the money that surrounds them.
My mind is not made up yet. I still have a few weeks to decide. And I plan on attending debates, rallies, listen to interviews and read-up on all candidates running for mayor of Miami-Dade County. But if the election were held today, I would cast my one vote for Luther Campbell.
The reaction from many, including some of my friends, has been one of disbelief. “What!” they’ve screamed. “I’m serious,” I’ve answered. And I believe that Campbell is also serious about wanting to change politics as usual in Miami. It’s why I lean towards him.
Asked by Miami New Times why he was running, Campbell answered that he’s “mad, frustrated… I get in my car, ride around Liberty City, and everything looks the same as when I was in the neighborhood growing up. … I go to Miami International Airport and see the same construction that has been going for like a hundred years. … Why aren’t we getting it right in Miami-Dade? Why is our government only serving one set of people? That’s what is pushing me to run.”
The problem with ‘Uncle Luke’, as Campbell was once known, may be that he’s a controversial black man. He was once a pretty well known, foul-mouthed rapper. Twenty years ago he took on the government and won waging legal battles against censorship – challenging an arrest during one of his performances where a judge ruled his lyrics obscene. He then spent hundreds of thousands of his own dollars to take another freedom of speech case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
His ideas are definitely not traditional. And he’s carried that through to his campaign. For example, he talks of transparency in government. A commissioner meets with a lobbyist, he says, video tape it. Let the voters know what their elected leaders are talking about with these purveyors of influence.
Controversial are his ideas to tax strippers and decriminalize marijuana. Taboo subjects, I realize. But maybe we should listen to what he has to say and why he is saying it.
The point is, with Luther Campbell nothing discussible is OFF the table. He does not appear afraid to tackle any subject. Compare that to our traditional politicians who come off as prudes and portray themselves as god-fearing while taking money from rapacious individuals who are destroying this community with the help of these same elected officials.
But there’s more to this race than strippers and marijuana smokers. We should be asking who controls our politicians and this political race.
Campbell describes it best when he writes that it’s the “same developers, lobbyists, charter school owners, and corporate barons responsible for the collapse of the real estate market and the public school system. Greed, not reform, is driving this special election. You have to follow the money to know what is really going on.”
Seriously, I may take a chance with this guy.