In a historic decision, Judge Sandra Perlman opened the Broward County Commission District 2 Democrat primary to all voters. On Friday, Judge Perlman disqualified write-in candidate Tyron Francois from the ballot. In court testimony, Francois admitted he did not live in District 2. Florida Statute 99.0615 states, “At the time of qualification, all write-in candidates must reside within the district represented by the office sought.” Francois testified he knew he lived in Broward County Commission District 9 when he filed his campaign paperwork on June 20th, 2014. District 9 is represented by Commissioner Dale Holness.
Francois’ testimony confirmed what many Broward political insiders had believed, that Dale Holness played a role in Francois’ write-in candidacy. Broward superlawyer William Scherer, representing the plaintiff, asked if Francois knew Commissioner Holness. Francois said he had voted for Holness in 2012 but did not really know him. Francois testified that no lawyer, politician, political consultant or anyone else assisted him.
Francois’ story began to fall apart after Scherer asked who lived with him at his Lauderdale Lakes home. At first, Francois claimed he lived with his brother. He admitted his mother owned the house. Francois testified no one else lived at that address. Scherer asked if he knew the daughter of Commissioner Holness had used his address as legal residence.
Francois’ attorney Robert Vaughan strongly objected to the mention of Holness’ daughter. Francois denied any relationship with Damara Holness but admitted he knew her. He said he had met her a few times, but “not often.” Francois stated he never discussed his candidacy with Ms. Holness.
After the lunch recess, Francois was recalled to the witness stand to explain a picture from Damara Holness’ Twitter account. Scherer obtained a picture of Francois and Holness posted to Twitter on March 14, 2014. The picture showed Francois and Holness straing into each other’s eyes in the front seat of an automobile. The picture was captioned, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” The caption included an animated emoticon of heart with an arrow through it.
Scherer asked Francois what the animated heart meant to him. The courtroom observers snickered when Francois said it could mean just about anything.
Last April, RED BROWARD reported Holness was supporting community activist Carmen Jones in the District 2 race. “Carmen would be an excellent County Commissioner, as a product of north Broward with more than 20 years of fighting for community issues,” said County Commissioner Dale Holness, who has already endorsed Jones. “She has deep roots in Pompano Beach and Deerfield with her family roots dating back to the 1930s and she will be a great asset working for the people of Broward County.” Buddy Nevins of BrowardBeat.com wrote the Jones candidacy is “more proof that County Commissioner Dale Holness wants to be King of Broward County government.” A Democrat insider told Nevins that Holness “wants to be the Go-To Guy in Broward. He wants the developers coming to him.”
Clearly, a closed primary would benefit Carmen Jones or staunch liberal Lisa Aronson. Political insiders believe Republican and Independent voters would gravitate towards Charlotte Rodstrom or even Wellington condo lawyer Mark Bogen.
Once again, the attorney for Broward Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Brenda Snipes tried desperately to delay any decision in the Francois matter. Burnadette Norris-Weeks continued to claim it was too late to open the primary. She repeatedly told Judge Perlman that ballots were already printed and “coded.” Judge Perlman asked Norris-Weeks why Snipes did not testify at hearing. She claimed Snipes was out of town. Perlman asked why no SOE employee testified about the ballots. Norris-Weeks tried to blame Scherer for not calling any employee to testify.
Norris-Weeks stated Snipes’ office was working on with a skeleton crew. Perlman asked how many employees worked at the Supervisor of Elections office. While she did not know the exact number, Norris-Weeks believed the number to be less than 50 employees.
On Friday, RED BROWARD reported Burnadette Norris-Weeks is a supporter of Dale Holness. In October 2012, she made a $500 contribution to Holness’ re-election campaign. Weeks later Holness was a guest at Norris-Weeks “holiday party.” RED BROWARD obtained pictures of the party Norris-Weeks posted on Facebook.
Norris-Weeks told the Sun-Sentinel that the Broward Supervisor Of Elections office will review the judge’s order before deciding whether to appeal.