Where Your Local Candidates Stand On Police Reform—And Why It Matters

Black Lives Matter protestors gathered in Wynwood on June 5 to demand justice for the death of George Floyd and other Black innocents. Jesse Fraga/PantherNOW

Gustavo Contreras/Staff Writer

The Black Lives Matter movement has been around since 2013, but 2020 might be its most influential year so far, and justifiably so. Whether one is Pro-BLM or Anti-BLM, the rising number of households acquainted with the organization has grown substantially, bringing the fight for police reform to the forefront of our conversations. With voting becoming more dire as 2020 continues to show off its unpredictability, voters should be acquainted with their choices on where to go moving forward to determine whether they are satisfied with their local candidates hoping to represent them this election year.

Police reform has grown to be another major pivot point in politics this year. Local protests hosted by FIU students have shown not only unity for the arrests of perpetrators, but a need to shift our own local police force. With future politicians watching (and some even participating), the fight for justice looks hopeful.

The great thing about politics is that its ideas are spread for voters to choose. Miami-Dade and Broward County both have adopted wide-ranging propositions into how to combat racial inequality in the police force; not all candidates believe in defunding, abolishing or even tampering with the police force. 

Voting locally has risen as candidates have taken their stances and voiced their ability to cause change, little by little, city by city. Sybrina Fulton, who has been working for Miami-Dade County Commision for over 20 years, has not updated her policy points for police reform, but told the Guardian that she believes in police reform as means of retraining, saying, “I think we need more police. We need police with better standards, and police with better ethics and better work habits.” 

Voters who support additional training for officers can see her name on the ballot for Miami County’s District 1. 

Fulton is prioritizing Miami-Dade County District 1, which is essential. But while she would make a great commissioner, congressional candidates have been put on a spotlight to adapt to the resurgence of criminal justice reform, with Democratic and Republican Primaries right around the corner, 

In the cases of Salazar and Fulton, I’m content with the outspokenness displayed so far, but the lack of an official stance online toughens the deal a bit.

Maria Elvira Salazar, who is running to represent Miami-Dade’s Congressional District, has had no official policy message on their stance on police reform, but on June 2 she tweeted, “I strongly oppose and condemn any group, whether from the left or from the right, who promotes hate, harm, and destruction,” following the George Floyd incident. Back in April, Salazar’s business friend donated 10,000 masks to Miami policemen, including our own FIUPD. 

Voters who support Salazar can vote for her in Miami-Dade County’s the Republican Primary on August 18.

Here’s my criticism of both Salazar and Fulton: they still have not adjudicated their policy points in their official websites. Sometimes politicians tend to downplay their stances in order to avoid controversy, or negatively affect their voter outcome. In the cases of Salazar and Fulton, I’m content with the outspokenness displayed so far, but the lack of an official stance online toughens the deal a bit. It’s completely understandable that some policies are not mentioned, but in today’s political climate, criminal reform is a grave make or break for voters. 

That’s why clarity is the most important element in politics, and why Broward County Congressional Candidate Jen Perelman has been my favorite to dwell on change. Perelman has publicly listed her official policy messages on their stance on police reform, including ending federal programs that provide military equipment to local police, as well as restricting the use of lethal force. 

When asked about the George Floyd bill that recently passed the House of Representatives, Perleman asked for more from the bill, compromising that, “I would sign it, but I would sign it saying this is not sufficient.” When interviewing Perelman for this piece, I did not have to go out of my way to ask for her firm beliefs, policy points, or what she is going to do in Capitol Hill.

Those who feel that police reform is an improvement can see Jen’s name on the Broward’s Democratic Primary ballots on August 18. 

Regardless of anyone’s stance, voting has become one of the biggest issues in the United States as more than 40%—or 4 in 10 eligible Americans—did not vote in 2016. It is imperative to know where the United States wants to move forward to, and the best way of doing that is to vote for who you want to represent your ideals. 

Seeing as to how incredibly important criminal reform is, I hope to provide constructive criticism as to promote official legislation in their official websites, which is often the primary source of the candidate.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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