Broward County hasn’t had a new State Attorney in 43 years. In June, 76 year-old Michael Satz said he plans to retire next year after prosecuting confessed Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz .
On Thursday night a candidate who’s calling for a different vision of the job held a rally at Tarpon River Brewing in Fort Lauderdale.
In a packed brewery, Joe Kimok got loud applause when he told the crowd he wanted to end mass incarceration. This is a central element in a larger wave of progressive policies that state and district attorneys around the country are campaigning on.
Kimok is a defense lawyer and former teacher who says his first day in office would be a total reshaping the state attorney’s office.
“We end the seeking of cash bail, we stop charging the possession of marijuana, we stop seeking mandatory minimums on drug offenses,” he said.
Kimok announced his campaign before Satz said he would retire. His self-described progressive campaign platform represents a sharp turn from the incumbent. Kimok said he would create a wrongful convictions unit to review and work to expunge minor charges. He also criticized Satz for not doing enough for the wrongfully convicted.
Candidates with similar progressive platforms have won races for top prosecutor jobs in Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, and Chicago recently. Kimok says he is following the lead of other successful district attorneys who have implemented similar platforms, mainly ending cash bail. Also helping him is his campaign manager Phillip Jerez who recently worked on the Andrew Gillum and Debbie Wasserman Schultz campaigns.
“Across the country were seeing progressive DAs with bold visions of getting people out of jail and giving them the tools they need to thrive being successful in these types of races,” Kimok said.
Anne Lemaster is an attorney living and working in Broward for the last eight years. She said she’s ready for a change in the State Attorney’s office.
“I think its a breath of fresh air. I think it’s totally different than the paradigm that the state attorney’s office has had in Broward County,” she said.
The general election is in November of next year. Kimok is one of two candidates in the Democratic primary so far. The other, defense attorney Teresa Williams, ran against Satz in 2016. She is the President of the Democratic Women's club of West Broward and has been practicing law in South Florida for 23 years.