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Gwen Graham touts endorsements from mayor, two former mayors

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham has received endorsements from Hawthorne Mayor Matt Surrency and two former mayors, Cindy Lerner of  Pinecrest and Shirley Freeman of Monroe County, her campaign announced Monday morning.

In a news release Graham, a former congresswoman from Tallahassee, heralded the endorsements as relevant in an era when the Florida Legislature is pursuing numerous proposals to roll back home rule protections for cities and counties.

“The current legislative assault on home rule is simply outrageous,” she stated in the news release. “As governor, I will not tolerate this Tallahassee-knows-best attitude. The state of Florida should partner with towns, cities, counties, and other local governments — not penalize them.

“Local leaders understand their communities best. I am proud to have the support of Mayor Surrency, Mayor Lerner, and Mayor Freeman, and, as governor, I will always listen to and work closely with our cities and counties when making decisions in Tallahassee,” Graham added.

Surrency also is a past president of the Florida League of Cities. Hawthorne is in Alachua County.


“As governor, Gwen Graham will respect cities and counties and work with them to do what is best for their local communities,” he stated in the news release. “She has fought alongside local governments to protect our clean water from fracking, supports returning management of our classrooms and schools to teachers and parents, and will defend home rule. As governor, Gwen will end the attacks on local government from the Legislature and listen to the people.”

Graham faces former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and current Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, along with Winter Park businessman Chris King, in seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor in November. The leading Republicans are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

“Gwen Graham believes in the science and common sense evidence that shows climate change is already impacting Florida. As governor, she will assure planning and investments that will demonstrate her commitment to supporting clean energy and stand up to Donald Trump’s dangerous policies that threaten our coastal communities and the entire state’s economy,” stated Lerner, whose town of Pinecrest is in Miami-Dade County. “Gwen is committed to sustainability and will usher in a green economy that works for every Floridian.”

Freeman’s former position, Monroe County mayor, is one of the few county-wide mayoral jobs in Florida.

“In the Florida Keys, we know how vitally important it is to stop climate change and the threat of oil drilling off our beaches,” Freeman stated. “Gwen has a proven record of always fighting offshore drilling and an unwavering dedication to protecting Florida’s environment. I’m supporting Gwen Graham for governor because I know she will always put our clean air, land, and water first.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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