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Rosalind Osgood, whose decade on the Broward School Board made her one of the county’s highest profile elected officials, is the newest member of the Florida Senate.
“Today is a major transition for us. Not just for me, but for us. As we continue to work to improve this community, it’s going to take all of us,” Osgood said Tuesday evening. She said she would prioritize issues related to children “as we continue to strategize to change some of the egregious things that are literally endangering our democracy.”
Also Tuesday, Palm Beach County voters elected Jervonte “Tae” Edmonds to fill a vacancy in the Florida House of Representatives.
In the Senate contest, unofficial results showed Democrat Osgood crushing her Republican opponent, Joseph C. Carter. With all votes counted, Osgood had 80.6% of the vote.
Despite a familiar name to some Broward voters — Joseph C. Carter Park in Fort Lauderdale is named after the candidate’s grandfather, who spent more than 40 years working for the city and county parks and recreation departments — candidate Carter couldn’t overcome Osgood, who is a prominent community leader outside of her role on the School Board.
Another big factor: the 33rd State Senate district is overwhelmingly Democratic. Its registered voters are 62% Democratic, 26% no party affiliation/independent/minor party, and just 12% Republican.
One clue Republican affiliation isn’t a plus in the district: Carter didn’t say he was a Republican on his campaign signs and many other campaign materials. State law requires campaign ads to list the candidate’s party affiliation, and Broward Democratic Chairman Rick Hoye filed a complaint over the omission with the Florida Elections Commission.
Osgood prominently touted her party affiliation on campaign signs.
About 50 people gathered for Osgood’s election night party in downtown Fort Lauderdale, including elected officials, business leaders, and people from the faith community. “This is what our community is, it is us,” Osgood said. “I love all of you, I thank you and our journey continues.”
Carter, whose defeat was widely expected, took a different approach. His election night plan, he said in advance, was that he was “going to kind of chill” without the usual kind of results-watching party.
Twice chosen by fellow School Board members as their chairwoman, Osgood served as the board’s public face during high-profile events.
She defended the school district’s 2021 mask policy, arguing it was a necessary tool to prevent spread of COVID-19 in earlier stages of the pandemic, a stand that put her at odds with Gov. Ron DeSantis —whose policies on the coronavirus and many other issues are the antithesis of Osgood’s.
She was a champion of former Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, despite his much-maligned handling of school construction issues and the response to the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. Her identification with the former superintendent was a political plus in the 33rd District, where 77% of the registered voters are Black.
Runcie left his position over the summer after he was indicted.
At her election night event, Osgood said she had recently spoken to Runcie, whom she called “the greatest superintendent of all time,” adding he “did a lot of good for the School District.”
Even though she opposed DeSantis on high-profile issues — and said during the campaign that he “threatens our democracy” — Osgood said she wasn’t running for the Senate with the goal of fighting with the governor.
Osgood said she wanted to work on school issues at the state level, as well as issues of gun violence, assisting older people and promoting entrepreneurships.
She told supporters at her victory celebration that she’d soon ask them to work on her behalf when she runs for re-election later this year — and to prepare themselves to come to Tallahassee to fight for education funding, to work against what she said are attacks on public schools and to preserve voting rights.
Osgood, 56, is an associate pastor at New Mount Olive Baptist Church, one of the biggest, most important Black churches in Fort Lauderdale. She is also CEO of the Mount Olive Development Corp., which operates a range of programs in the community including housing for people returning to the community after serving prison sentences, assistance for low-income families and a senior center.
Osgood’s achievements, including a master’s degree and a doctorate, represent a momentous turnaround from her early life. Decades ago, she was addicted to cocaine and has said she had two arrests for cocaine possession. She has been in recovery since Dec. 2, 1989.
Osgood was first elected to the School Board in 2012, representing much of the same territory that’s in the state Senate District 33. The district includes northwest Fort Lauderdale, Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lakes, North Lauderdale and parts of Sunrise, Tamarac, Margate, Pompano Beach and Oakland Park.
Carter, 34, is a former seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher.
In a campaign video, he said he was running because “throughout the years the people we’ve elected to represent us have demonstrated that they’re more concerned with climbing the political ladder than representing the needs of the people who elected them.”
The top issues on his campaign website — opposition to abortion, school choice, support for the rights of gun owners — aren’t typically winning issues in a heavily Democratic district. “I want nothing more than to see this community thrive and prosper,” he said.
In Palm Beach County, unofficial results showed Democrat Edmonds with 80% of the vote.
The 88th state House district is mostly Democratic. Its registered voters are 59% Democratic, 27% no party affiliation/independent/minor party, and 14% Republican.
Edmonds, 30, is a former legislative aide and founder of Suits for Seniors, a program mentoring program for high school students. Edmonds was endorsed by dozens of elected officials in Palm Beach County, including county commissioners, School Board members, mayors, state legislators and city commissioners as well as additional endorsements from multiple former elected officials.
Torres, 74, was office manager of her husband’s dental practice and is a retired teacher. The top two policies listed on her website were to “Keep Florida Free!” and to “Support Governor DeSantis’ policies.”
Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach are major population centers in the district, which runs along or near Interstate 95 from Delray Beach to Lake Park.
The elections of Osgood and Edmonds are part of the domino effect in the Black communities in Broward and Palm Beach counties resulting from the April 6 death of Congressman Alcee Hastings.
One consequence was the two state legislative vacancies.
Florida’s strict resign-to-run law requires current elected officials to submit irrevocable resignations from their jobs to run for another post.
After Hastings died, state Sen. Perry Thurston of Broward and state Rep. Omari Hardy of Palm Beach County, submitted resignations to qualify as candidates for Congress. Both lost the Nov. 2 congressional primary.
The same resign-to-run law applies to Osgood. Her resignation from the School Board so she could run for state Senate was effective Tuesday.
The annual legislative session is in its final days, with a scheduled adjournment on Friday, but the winners don’t have to rush to Tallahassee.
DeSantis made sure that the newly elected lawmakers — virtually guaranteed to be Democrats because of the voter registration numbers in their districts — wouldn’t be voting in the Republican-controlled Legislature this spring.
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The Republican governor, who has the authority to set special elections, waited three months after the late July resignations of Thurston and Hardy to set special elections, not acting until 12 days after the Harvard Election Law Clinic filed a lawsuit seeking a judge’s order compelling him to schedule voting.
Once DeSantis acted, he set the special general elections for three days before the scheduled end of the session.
The state Elections Canvassing Commission meets two weeks after Election Day, on March 22, to certify the results of Tuesday’s voting. Only then can the winners take office.
They might have a chance to cast votes in Tallahassee if DeSantis vetoes the plan the Legislature passed to redraw boundaries of congressional districts, something he’s threatened to do. If there’s a special session to do more work on redistricting after any veto, they’d get to participate if it’s after March 22.
Otherwise, they might have to wait a long time. All state Senate and House seats are up for election in November, so Osgood and Edmonds might not get to cast any votes in Tallahassee until later this year, assuming they’re re-elected.