Quartet of Democrats running for HD 8 seat

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With Democratic Rep. Ramon Alexander stepping down in light of sexual harassment allegations, the House District 8 seat is up for grabs.

A quartet of Democrats will face off in the Aug. 23 Primary Election: Hubert Brown, Gallop Franklin, Gregory James and Marie Rattigan.

The field did shrink in size, however, after Democrat Sharon Lettman-Hicks, a long campaign associate of Andrew Gillum, was indicted. Lettman-Hicks pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, but did opt to withdraw her HD 8 candidacy.

Brown is a lawyer at the Tallahassee-based Brown and Brown law firm. He was formerly a CPA in Texas. Brown said if elected he will focus on affordable housing, properly funded schools, crime reduction, Medicaid expansion, and women’s and voting rights.

“As one of the poorest districts in Florida, I believe the biggest issue is economic development, which also increases crime. Because without hope of earning a living wage, young people often turn to crime,” Brown said. 

Brown has been endorsed by layer Ben Crump, Leon County Sheriff Walter McNeil and former Tallahassee Mayor John Marks among others.

Franklin is a pharmacist, professor and entrepreneur. He was formerly a gubernatorial fellow appointed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist. He is a member of the MLK Foundation Board as well as the Tallahassee Human Relations Council.

Franklin said the biggest issue facing HD 8 is poverty and also proposed focusing on economic development as the “first step to working with community members to find sustainable solutions.”

“Every home deserves economic opportunity regardless of their socioeconomic or educational background,’ Franklin said

James is a pastor and community activist. He was sentenced to life plus 40 years in federal prison in connection to a drug conspiracy scandal before being released in 2008. After he was released, James advocated to restore voting rights for nonviolent offenders that have been released from prison.

On his campaign website, James said his release “thrusted him into the civil rights fight to turn the power of dissent into tangible legislation impacting the lives of formerly incarcerated locally and statewide.”

James “is known as one of the leading grassroots organizers for the passing of Florida’s Amendment 4 Voting Rights Restoration for Felons initiative in 2018.”

Rattigan is a former legislative aide. Speaking at a Flip Florida Blue eventin July, Rattigan said election legislation approved this past Legislative Session, such as Senate Bill 90 and Senate Bill 524, was a factor in her decision to run.

“The time is now for us to no longer be complacent, especially when a right for a woman to choose what happens to her body is up for debate, especially when union workers with 1197 can no longer collective bargain,” she said.

HD 8 covers Gadsden County and part of Leon County. The winner of the Aug. 23 Primary Election will face Republican Curt Bender in the Nov. 8 General Election.

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