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By Ashley Miznazi
A Haitian American could hold a seat on the Broward County Commission for the first time after Tuesday’s election. Two Haitian American candidates — Guithele Ruiz-Nicolas and Aude Sicard — are among those running for seats 8 and 9 on the redistricted commission comprising nine members.
Broward is Florida’s 7th largest county with a population of 1.94 million, including a large contingent of Haitians. The exact figures are not available, but they are among the 228,000 people of Haitian ancestry that the Migration Policy Institute reports live in South Florida.
In the County Commission race, all the candidates are Democrats. Early voting ends Sunday, Aug. 21, and Election Day is Tuesday, Aug. 23.
Voting locations may be found here.
Ruiz-Nicolas seeks to represent the redesigned District 9, which encompasses parts of Fort Lauderdale, Plantation, Sunrise, Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lakes and Oakland Park.
A resident of Broward since 1986, Ruiz-Nicolas spent 25 years in government and community leadership positions. This is the first time Plantation, the place Ruiz-Nicolas has called home for 19 years, has fallen under District 9.
This is also her first year running for office.
“I don’t think anyone can truly understand the plight of immigrants, or Haitians, like I can, because that’s what I’ve fought for,” Ruiz-Nicolas told The Haitian Times in a Zoom interview.
Ruiz-Nicolas owns Inspir, LLC, a public affairs and community relations company, and is a case manager for Broward college. She serves as a chair for the University of Miami Translational Sleep and Circadian Sciences and sits on the City of Plantation Sustainability and Resiliency Advisory Board.
Previously, she worked as a small business manager for Port Everglades and in human resources departments for the cities of Hollywood, North Miami and Lauderdale Lakes.
If elected, Ruiz-Nicolas said she will focus on such priorities as affordable housing, public transportation and allocating resources for the elderly and job opportunities.
She applauded housing plans involving corporations, such as Disney working with Orange County to build more than 1,300 affordable housing units.
“Major corporations, and particularly the insurance companies, let’s hold them accountable,” Ruiz-Nicolas said. “They are raising the insurance making housing very, very unaffordable.”
Ruiz-Nicolas faces Hazelle Rogers, the first Jamaican Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives and the current mayor of Lauderdale Lakes.
Aude Sicard seeks to represent District 8 encompasses the Broward Municipal Service District, and parts of Coconut Creek, Fort Lauderdale, Lauderdale Lakes, Lauderhill, Margate, North Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Plantation, Pompano Beach, Tamarac and Wilton Manors.
Sicard is a retiree from Jackson Health System, where she worked for 32 years. Her roles included being the coordinator of the Cuban Haitian Refugee Program, a grant that provided access to health care for Cuban and Haitian refugees. She also negotiated contracts with health care companies, according to her campaign website.
Her priorities, she said, include affordable housing, higher minimum wage, economic development, and environmental issues such as water management and clean drinking water.
“I’m running for County Commission to continue serving and ensure that District 8 families and residents receive their fair share of Broward County’s economic expansion,” Sicard wrote on her campaign website.
Her opponents are Bobby DuBose, former member of the Florida House of Representatives and Robert McKinzie, a Fort Lauderdale city commissioner.
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