On April 12, Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, 64, confidently announced his candidacy for the pending election for the Congressional District 20 seat, made vacant by the recent death of Congressman Alcee Hastings.
Dates for the election are yet to be set by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Holness is expected to be one of a field of several candidates seeking to be elected to the seat, which includes parts of Palm Beach County and Broward County.
Following the announcement of his candidacy on Monday evening, CNW sat with Holness to ascertain the reason for his expressed confidence, why he is the race, and what he plans to bring to the District and Congress.
Holness says he plans to bring 17 years of dedicated public service which started in the City of Lauderhill in 2004 as a city commissioner, vice mayor, and now as Broward county commissioner for over 10 years, including a year as mayor. He said he also brings a record of getting results and delivering for South Floridians.
Highlighting his service on behalf of Broward residents, Holness said, “As pointed out by a local newspaper I’ve made the most ordinances of any sitting commissioner. Most recently, these ordinances targeted the systems and institutions to combat systemic racism. These include the Crown Act, the Police and Criminal Justice Review Board, the Racial Equity Taskforce, and passing a living wage that includes full insurance for workers. I’m also proud of passing the workforce investment program, helping those who have difficulties in finding jobs, like ex-felons, soldiers returning home, people who had been on welfare, people with disabilities, and those without high school diplomas or GED.”
He emphasized his early experience as a Lauderhill commissioner when in 2004 he was instrumental in starting the Lauderhill Chamber of Commerce; designed the Lauderhill education A+ plan, which received funding of over $100,000 per year, increased homeownership, put in place a small business preference program, and brought programs for youth such as KAPOW (Kids and the Power of Work).
At the county level, he said through his leadership the county has “increased small, minority and women-owned business contracting opportunities from 10.25 percent to 40 percent totaling over $134 million this fiscal year; increased broad economic output for Broward County and more directly in creating Florida’s International Trade and Cultural Expo (FITC) which brings people from around the world to Broward County to do business there. This is bearing fruit, as I’ve been working to bring the World Trade Center to Fort Lauderdale.”
Asked if he considers himself a moderate or progressive Democrat, he admitted to being a progressive democrat, saying, “You can see that, based on what I’ve done.”
Dale Holness, who was born in Jamaica, cites immigration reform as a top priority if elected to Congress. “As an immigrant, immigration is dear to my heart. Several years ago, the Congressional Budget Office estimated if the U.S. achieves immigration reform, the economy could increase by $1 trillion. This means everyone benefits from immigration reform.”
On the prevailing, controversial issue of gun control, Holness said, “I have fought for common-sense legislation geared towards preventing mass shootings and keeping our communities safe without impeding on constitutional rights. In fact, I’m one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit to give local government more say in dealing with gun control.”
He also fully supports President Joe Biden’s initiative to invest heavily in the nation’s infrastructure. “This will be a massive job generator, following on the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The ARP has already begun to reenergize our stagnant economy as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 generated recession. In fact, in Broward County, I supported that one percent of the seven percent sales tax be used for transportation infrastructure. I’ve been at the forefront of supporting the infrastructural expansion of our Port and Airport because this gives us more access to trade with the rest of the world.”
Holness also supports raising the federal minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, and improving educational opportunities that create more jobs for Florida’s long-term prosperity; and the strengthening of social programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and increase access to affordable education, healthcare and housing.
Regarding controlling the spread of COVID-19, he said efforts must be escalated to have more Americans vaccinated, and dispel the prevailing mistrusts of the vaccines.
Dale Holness also cited that another of his priorities, if elected, is to support reforming voters’ rights. “Congressman Hastings was a longtime champion for the fight against voter suppression, serving as a co-sponsor of the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014. This is a fight that must be won to ensure inclusion of all people so that their voices may be heard.”