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Local reaction to the Florida House race for District 91
Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl announced late last week that he would not seek the Democratic nomination for the District 91 seat in the Florida House of Representatives, a run that until then had widely been expected. The announcement came less than two days after Republican Yomin Postelnik announced his candidacy for the seat being vacated by current Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff. Bogdanoff is running for the Florida Senate and is the clear frontrunner to replace State Senator Jeff Atwater, who announced his bid for State Chief Financial Officer late last month.
When Bogdanoff, a former foster mother with extensive community ties outside of the political realm, announced that she was leaving the seat, Republicans seemed hard pressed to find a candidate with a similar record of involvement in the District. But Postelnik's candidacy brings with it a series of accomplishments for the community at large.
In 2006, Postelnik authored a financial wellness curriculum that was later approved by the Broward School Board Superintendent's committee and adopted by the United Way and other agencies. He and his wife Leah are former foster parents who adopted their oldest child. Postelnik also has fairly extensive campaign experience, having managed and worked on several campaigns on the federal and statewide levels.
According to John Labriola, a former elected Democratic committeeman and top volunteer for numerous campaigns, there is a reason for Democrats like Keechl to forgo any attempt at taking the seat. It's the same reason that has caused Labriola to now volunteer for Postelnik. "Democrats didn't count on someone with the extensive level of community involvement that Yomin Postelnik brings to the table. His achievements give him a lot of bipartisan support, that he’s able to get without compromising his principles," he said.
Greater Pompano Beach Republican Club President Carol Waldrop gives another reason for the perceived strength of Postelnik's candidacy. As she put it, “I see why Ken Keechl would not want to run against a candidate like Yomin Postelnik. As the only openly observant Jewish candidate in the race, Yomin’s candidacy dispels many of the notions that Democrats have often played upon in order to get minority votes. Yomin’s candidacy presents a huge problem for any Democrat in the race.”
Postelnik has made education a key part of his platform, which includes proposals for financial wellness and job skills training in the classroom. Nor is he shying away from his affiliations in the District, making his involvement with local non-profits a key part of his stated credentials.
Postelnik had hammered the last point in recent days. Speaking to a group of supporters at Waldrop's Republican club prior to Keechl's announcement Postelnik said, “it’s not enough to say that you want to represent the District. If you want to be an effective representative, you need to have a track record of real accomplishments in your district. You need to know the issues and concerns of your area first hand in order to come up with plausible solutions that actually help instead of doing more damage. If you don’t know the problems through first hand experience, if you haven’t been in constant contact with those who are on the frontline of finding solutions, you can’t possibly know how to advocate or to properly advance any of the vital concerns facing our District.”
At the meeting, Postelnik seemed to be directing his remarks at Ken Keechl, who he had described as "having one of the thinnest records of public service of any official in the County." When asked now for comment on Keechl's decision not to run for State House, Postelnik stated "I wish him well and look forward to hearing from all current and former government officials. I believe that all can provide perspective on the needs of the District." Keechl is still expected to face a stiff election challenge, with rumors of Republicans running a candidate with extensive and long lasting South Florida ties against him for County Commission as well.
Postelnik is not the only candidate in the race to represent Florida House District 91. Fort Lauderdale attorney and businessman David Maymon has also announced his intentions for the seat, as has Broward Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner Oliver Parker. Parker previously served as Mayor of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and was the subject of a recall vote in 2007 that was eventually stopped by the courts over the protests of hundreds of city residents.