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First South Florida Debate Scheduled for Gubernatorial Democratic Primary

SEIU Florida State Council, Dream Defenders Action Fund, Florida Immigration Coalition (FLIC) Votes, New Florida Majority, Organize Florida, and Florida Planned Parenthood PAC are Joining Together to Host the “Florida Freedom Forum” on June 11

Miramar, FL - Local and statewide community groups have come together to host the first gubernatorial debate for the democratic primary in South Florida. The Florida Freedom Forum will be hosted by a coalition of groups including SEIU Florida State Council, Dream Defenders Action Fund, Florida Immigration Coalition (FLIC) Votes, New Florida Majority, Organize Florida, and Florida Planned Parenthood PAC.

The Florida Freedom Forum will explore the issues that poor and working communities face every day. This includes freedom to a good education, freedom from institutional and implicit bias, freedom to access quality, low-cost healthcare, or the freedom to a fair wage.

All four democratic gubernatorial candidates are confirmed to attend and participate in the two hour debate including Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Representative Gwen Graham, Chris King, and former Mayor of Miami Beach Philip Levine.

“Floridians are ready for a state that fights for their freedoms, and not one that is led by a party that takes them away,” said Monica Russo, President of SEIU Florida State Council. “This debate will tackle issues that Floridians face every day such as healthcare, to workers' rights, and even the exorbitant rise in the cost of living across our State. We look forward to this and how this next election will truly reshape our future Florida.”

“This is an opportunity for everyday people to have a say in the campaign agenda,” said Phillip Agnew, Co-Director of Dream Defenders. “Corporations have had their say and the ears of electeds for far too long. It's our turn.”

“Our immigrant and refugee communities are under constant attack in Florida, from the national level down to our state and counties,”said Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director of FLIC Votes. “With one of the largest immigrant populations in the United States, we need a governor who is going to stand up for us and fight for equal protections that keep immigrants safe, such as drivers licenses for all, regardless of status. Florida should be a leader in defending immigrants, where we are protected instead of used as scapegoats for xenophobic attacks. This election will be a turning point in the fight for immigrant and refugee rights.”

“We see this as a great opportunity for candidates to not just talk about their stances on key community issues, but to also give eligible voters a powerful reason to vote," said Andrea Cristina Mercado, Exe cutive Director of the New Florida Majority (NewFM). “Vision is what is going to get people to go to the polls this November, not blind partisanship.”

"Floridians are struggling to survive while the state continues to trample on their freedoms,” said Stephanie Porta, Executive Director, Organize Florida. “It is important the candidates provide a vision to voters that transforms their lives for the better. This August election will decide F lorida's future and whether families will continue to be in a constant state of crisis."

“For the past seven years Florida women’s reproductive rights have been under constant attack in our State Capitol,” said Laura Goodhue, Campaign Manager of the Florida Planned Parenthood PAC. “It’s about time women and families in our state had a leader who will stand up for their rights, not attack them.”

The debate will take place at the Miramar Cultural Center on Monday, June 11. Doors will open at 5:30PM. Tickets will be distributed to local community members through the host organizations. The debate will be livestreamed and the moderator will be announced in the coming weeks. Watch parties across the state, including Tampa and Orlando, will occur during the time of the debate.


SEIU Florida represents over 55,000 active and retired healthcare professionals, public employees, and property service workers in the state of Florida. SEIU members provide vital public services in Florida’s hospitals, nursing homes, public schools, community colleges, municipal and county governments, malls, and universities. With over 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America.