Florida's District 17 was created in January 3, 1983 redistricted from the 13th district. Brief history of District 17 and its leadership
January 3, 1983-January 3, 1993 Representative/ William Lehman- Democrat (10 years)
January 3, 1993- January 3, 2003 Representative/ Carrie P Meek – Democrat (10 years)
January 3, 2003-present Representative/ Kendrick Meek- Democrat ( 7 years)
Demographics for District 17*: 100% Urban; Population 639,296 (2000) Median Income $30,426; Ethnicity: 18.4% White; 55.2 % Black; 1.5% Asian; 21.2% Hispanic; .2% Native American .3% other (covering areas in Miami Dade and South Broward counties)
Representative Kendrick Meek who holds the seat is setting his sights on getting into the Senate.
Mainstream declared Senator Frederica Wilson as the winner since she is an incumbent (another seat) and a democrat! Historically she secured the seat(s) Meeks vacated.
Roderick Vereen threw down the gauntlet to fight for the people in district 17. The election is November 2, 2010 with 34 days left!
Below are some questions attorney Roderick Vereen answered about himself.
OD: What qualifications does Roderick Vereen have to represent the people in District 17 in Washington DC?RV: I grew up in Carol City, now known as Miami Gardens. I attended public school and graduated from Miami Carol City Senior High in 1979. After graduating from Florida State University, I enrolled in the Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I distinguished myself on the Law Review and Moot Court Board.
Upon graduating from law school, I was employed as an Assistant State Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida, prosecuting criminal cases against the public. I became the first African American Assistant Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Florida.
In 1995 I returned to Miami and opened a solo practice concentrating on criminal defense. Since then I spent many hours representing individuals charged with criminal offenses and representing individuals on a pro bono basis due to the fact that they could not afford an attorney.
Notable cases to my credit: Lionel Tate, the Liberty City Seven, the Liberty City Six, Edison Senor High Students charged with battery on law enforcement officers and Paul Hill.
Currently I represent the Overall Tenant Advisory Council, which represents all residents living in HUD housing on a pro bono basis, that have had their rights affected by unfair practices by Miami Dade Public Housing Agency.
I know this city; I grew up in it, I defend its residents on a constant basis and based on my legal training and my education, I can sponsor legislation that can affect us all.
OD: What issues are the most crucial for District 17 and how would you prioritize them?
RV: Economic infrastructure needs to be created, our Educational system needs an over haul, we need immigration reform, crime needs to be reduced, septic sites need to be eliminated, city codes and ordinances need to be strictly enforced, jobs need to be created, social agencies need more oversight, accountability and transparency, our elderly need proper health insurance coverage and our veterans need proper aftercare after serving in combat. This is simply not happening.
OD: What steps would you recommend to reduce the crime rate in district 17?
RV: First, the county needs to remove the septic sites within the district. Crack houses and dilapidated buildings need to be torn down and slum-lording needs to be confronted. Areas where crime runs amuck need more of a police presence.
All of that breeds crime. Second, the County needs to enforce code violations that add to the creation of septic sites.
If a business owner of a business that is closed does not maintain their property or if a homeowner has property that has been destroyed but has not been cleared off or rebuilt then the county should either fine the owner or clear the land then place a lien on it.
Third, law enforcement needs to foster a relationship with the communities they serve in order to promote participation of the citizenry in helping combat crime. The snitches get snitches code is ignorant and self-serving to those that hold our streets hostage to crime.
Additionally, the State Attorney’s Office needs to take a proactive role in getting the message out to the public that crime will not be tolerated and that the expectation of plea deals that would put a violent offender back on the street is a misnomer.
OD: Many voters choose a candidate with name recognition over a candidate who may be more qualified for the position.RV: Unfortunately, that is today’s reality and has been such a reality for awhile. The only reason I can attribute to that is a lack of knowledge and failure of one to educate oneself regarding the need to know and the need to be an educated voter.
At some point ignorance is not an excuse. I’ve always researched my candidate. Some things were good about the candidate, some things were not as favorable, but at least I was informed about all of the platforms of the candidates and the manner in which they intended to implement their platforms.
OD: As a Representative for the state of Florida, how would you differentiate personal choice vs that of the majority of the local constituents?
RV: As an attorney, I am trained in the law. And as a lawyer, I am often called to take sides when representing my clients. However, my reasoning is based on the law and not on what I believe the law should be.
In those situations where the law needs to be challenged, I advise my clients to appeal the law and challenge it on a constitutional basis.
As a representative of the people, I intend to vote in a manner that benefits my constituency. While I will not be able to confer with the people of my district on every issue, I intend to keep them abreast as best as I could regarding issues that I will make decisions on and seek their positions and opinions.
OD: What is your message to the voters in District 17?
RV: My message is simple, “It’s time to get up and get busy if you want to turn this district around. It’s time for substantial change in how this district is operated.
This district is in an abusive relationship with its leaders and it’s time to bring this domestic violence to an end.” The only way to do it is by electing leadership that works, that will work for you, that will work for the district, what will work while in Washington, D.C.
OD: Many voters were turned off by the negative messages promoted in the primary. How will you avoid going negative?
RV: Although I’ve been attacked by my opponent on August 24, I simply won’t entertain negative campaigning. My opponent will have to stand on her own record. I will stand on my platform and my accomplishments as well. My opponent called me an apprentice and a neophyte. Michael Putney from channel 10 news referred to me as a “mere formality” and as a “write-in” candidate.
Even after having sent him an email regarding his statements, he remained silent and offered no retraction. That’s so elementary. I guess my response should be “Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Isn’t that what we teach little kids?
If my opponent feels the need to attack me and castigate me in order to improve her standing in the public’s eye, then she’s not much of a politician. A statesman or stateswomen should be tactful and sit on principles that we the public can be proud of, not the same old stuff we’ve been getting every time there’s an election.
OD: Your opponent called you out the night she won the primary as “an apprentice”! What is your response to that?
RV: Congress is the law-making body of government. It passes the laws as we as citizens must abide by. I have 20 years of legal knowledge. I taught law courses at 2 different Universities, FSU and FAMU. I clerked with the Attorney General’s Office in Louisiana. I’ve been an Assistant State Attorney, an Assistant Federal Public Defender, and a solo practitioner for the past 16 years.
I am hardly an apprentice when it comes to law. My opponent has no legal experience or training and although she has served in the House of Representatives and the State Senate has no substantial legislation to her credit that has positively affected this district during her tenure.
OD: Business owners in District 17 are struggling to keep their doors open. What would you propose to assist them ?
RV:The President has recently passed the Small Business Act that offers tax credits to small businesses to assist and motivate them to hire more employees. Additionally, I will ensure that businesses within the empowerment zone reap the benefits of that agency, as well as through the CRA.
Will district 17 continue with the "same ole same ole" or will they rise above the norm and take a hard look at both candidates vying to represent them in Congress before making that choice November 2, 2010?