(WSVN) – Broward County’s longest-serving state attorney will be stepping down after 44 years in office. That means Democratic voters will have a wide field of new candidates to consider in the Aug. 18 primary.
Eight Democrats are running for Broward County’s top prosecutor. The candidates include three current assistant state attorneys, four former prosecutors and one defense attorney.
With the Black Lives Matter movement in full swing across the country, the candidates say they hear the calls for change in the criminal justice system.
“We have a system, we have a country, we have institutions that have been traditionally stacked against people of color and we have to understand that it takes a revolutionary change how we approach these systems and how we initiate these changes,” said candidate Harold Pryor.
They also acknowledged the need for racial equality in the justice system.
“We cannot allow the abuse, the violation of due process, the racial inequality that currently exists in the culture of our criminal justice system to continue,” said candidate Teresa Fanning Williams. “We are seeing monumental change. What we are all finally realizing is that this has been going on for decades.”
In the online forum, sponsored by the Broward Democratic Party, candidates answered tough questions on a variety of issues such as police reform.
“As we sit here tonight, the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and thousands more from the last several decades are having dinner without their loved ones,” said candidate Joe Kimock. “We must change the way we think about policing. We must dismantle mass incarceration and build a criminal justice system where all communities can feel safe.”
They also talked about building better working relationships within departments.
“Communication has been the issue in this county for decades,” said candidate Joshua Rydell. “We have a state attorney who doesn’t like the public defender, that doesn’t talk to the sheriff. We need to come together and real leadership to come together.”
“We have all heard the term — it takes a village,” said candidate Sarahnell Murphy. “No one person has the answer to all of this. We have to do this and institute these changes together as a community.”
The candidates also answered questions on how they would change the prosecution of the law.
“We are not going to prosecute marijuana cases anymore,” said candidate Jim Lewis. “I’m going to tell the police, don’t bring them, don’t arrest people. Marijuana is not going to be a crime in Broward County anymore.”
Most of the candidates approved Broward School’s “Promise” program that was designed to work with non-violent students, and they pledged to show the LGBTQ community more thorough support.
“When we don’t understand what’s going on in our communities, then we falsely and erroneously file cases,” said candidate David Cannady. “What I’m going to do is ensure that we are treating domestic cases and trans cases and LGBTQ cases with the care that they need.”
“Sometimes members of the LGBTQ+ community are victimized because of their status or their orientation, and I think it’s important that if that occurs that we acknowledge that,” said candidate Justin McCormack. “I think we need to have more training and we need to have more diversity within our office to handle those types of cases.”
Voters still have time to do their homework on the candidates for Broward State Attorney.
The Democratic primary will be on Tuesday, Aug. 18.
Broward State Attorney Michael Satz chose not to run for a 12th term because he will be prosecuting accused Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz in his upcoming murder trial.
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