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Sundial

Heard On Sundial: Congressional Candidates Form “Florida’s Fab Four”, Retail And The Pandemic

Florida Fab Four
Florida Fab Four/Christine Olivo
From left to right, Christine Olivo, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Jennifer Perelman and Guido Weiss are running for Congress in South Florida. The progressives have named themselves Floridas Fab Four.

On this Wednesday, August 5, episode of Sundial:

 

Panel with Congressional Candidates “Florida’s Fab Four” 

 

Early voting has already begun in most of South Florida ahead of the Aug. 18 primary election.

 

In South Florida's U.S. congressional races, there are four candidates who are heavily favored and have no plans of giving up their seats. Representatives Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson have all been incumbents for more than two decades. 

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A group of progressive candidates think it’s time for change. The “Fab Four” argues these elected officials have been in office for far too long, and have teamed up to challenge the incumbents.

Guido Weiss is a former Congressional aide and member of the Navy running for District 21, representing parts of Palm Beach County. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is a healthcare executive and attorney running for District 20, representing parts of Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. 

Jennifer Perelman is an attorney running for District 23, representing parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties. And Christine Olivo is an advocate and organizer running for District 24, representing parts of South Florida from Miami to Hollywood. Olivo is running as an independent and will be on the ballot in the November election. 

 

“We aligned ourselves because we had the same vision for our future for the country, [it was] specifically for our neighbors,” said Cherfilus-McCormick. The candidates are aligned on a number of the progressive policies on the far left of the Democratic Party including Medicare for All, a Green New Deal and legalizing recreational marijuana.  

 

“I think that a big part of what we’re doing is part of a much larger nationwide effort to try to change how the Democratic Party, in particular, has been operating. And many of us, many of the Democrats can safely say that the Democratic Party isn’t representing their core values anymore,” said Weiss.

 

We spoke with the “Fab Four” about their campaigns, the uphill battle against the incumbents they're facing, and their stances on key campaign issues such as healthcare and criminal justice reform.

 

Retail and the Pandemic

 

Retail has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of major companies have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this year, including Modell’s, J.C. Penney and Lord and Taylor

 

CanesWear store
Credit Brett Mitchell/ CanesWear
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CanesWear
CanesWear in Davie, Florida has been hosting Instagram Live conversations with former University of Miami football players to keep customers engaged during the pandemic.

Beth Azor, who owns six shopping centers across Broward County, has faced the grim reality of the pandemic’s effects on retail. Some of her stores have been forced to close while others have been able to survive. One store that has stayed resilient during the shutdown is Brett Mitchell’s CanesWear in Davie, which has turned to social media to get support from customers.  

“The next year in the shopping center and retail industry is going to be dire,” said Azor. “It’s a house of cards. In the mall business, if you have a J.C. Penney’s and they go under, it triggers rent decreases across the board with other tenants.”

 

We spoke with Azor and Mitchell about the pandemic’s effects on South Florida’s retail stores and what the future looks like for brick and mortar shopping.   

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.