New Florida Majority, SEIU Florida State Council, Dream Defenders Action Fund, Florida Immigration Coalition (FLIC) Votes, Organize Florida, Color of Change PAC and Florida Planned Parenthood PAC Host Historic “Florida Freedom Forum” at Miramar Cultural Center.

Miramar, FL – Local and statewide community groups will come together tonight at the Miramar Cutural Center to host the first gubernatorial debate for the Democratic primary in South Florida.

Click here for the debate livcstream.

The Florida Freedom Forum (#FLFreedomForum) will be hosted by a coalition of groups including the New Florida Majority, SEIU FloridaDream Defenders Action Fund, Florida Immigration Coalition (FLIC) Votes, Organize Florida, Planned Parenthood Florida PAC, and Color of Change PAC. . The PBS NewsHour’s and Miami Native Yamiche Alcindor and WLRN Public Media’s Luis Hernandez will moderate the forum. 

Four of the five announced Democratic Party 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. (The fifth,  Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, only filed for the race June 1st and didn’t meet the deadline to participate set by organizers. )

The debate will take place in front of a live audience of approximately 800 at the Miramar Cultural Center, with tickets having been distributed to local community members through the host organizations. Floridians statewide will also be watching the debate at watch parties in Tampa, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, and Orlando or via Facebook

“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 New Florida Majority (NewFM)  Executive Director Andrea Cristina Mercado . “Vision is what is going to get people to go to the polls this November, not blind partisanship.”

A Debate Focused on the Needs & Questions of Everyday People

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.

“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.”

“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.”

Moderators with Local Roots

Alcindor is the White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour and a contributor to NBC and MSNBC. A Miami native, she is a proud graduate of Fort Lauderdale High School and got her start in journalism locally interning at the Westside Gazette and the Miami Herald.

Hernandez is the host for South Florida NPR affiliate WLRN’s latest daily talk show, Sundial, and the news anchor for All Things Considered. A Florida resident for nearly 40 years, he has spent nearly 14 years in public broadcasting in Miami, Las Vegas and Gainesville, FL. 

“We are thrilled to have Florida natives and dedicated journalists, Yamiche and Luis, to co-moderate the Florida Freedom Forum,” saud Russo. “This year, we are at a pivotal moment for change across our state. Floridians are connected more than ever to the issues that will define this election year. All eyes are on our state as we head towards November. We look forward to this first discussion in South Florida to help highlight the issues facing our communities.”