Waymon Hudson

Victory Fund Endorses Mark LaFontaine for Florida House

Filed By Waymon Hudson | May 23, 2008 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Politics
Tags: Florida State Legislature, Mark LaFontaine, Victory Fund

There's great news coming out of Florida! LaFontaine.jpgMark LaFontaine, candidate for the Florida State Legislature from District 92, has been formally endorsed by the Victory Fund. If elected, LaFontaine would be the first openly gay representative elected in Florida, something long overdue and much needed in our state.

In an official release from the campaign, LaFontaine said:

I'm pleased to accept the endorsement of the Victory Fund, because their track record of supporting winning candidates underscores the momentum my campaign has achieved. Florida has never elected an openly-GLBT representative to Tallahassee, and this endorsement, plus our strong petition drive, brings us one step closer to making history.

LaFontaine has long been an advocate for Florida's GLBT community. He is national treasurer of American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER), which supports US veterans both gay and straight, and president of the local Gold Coast chapter, the largest in the organization. He is also a board member of the Dolphin Democrats, the oldest GLBT Democratic club in the state, as well its former treasurer.

LaFontaine was also a leader in Scouting for All, which fought discrimination in the Boy Scouts. He was instrumental in leading a diverse coalition including GLBT groups and religious and mental health leaders, which resulted in several government and community organizations pulling their funding from the Boy Scouts - including Broward County, the Broward School Board, and United Way of Broward County.

In addition to supporting the GLBT community, LaFontaine is also a member of the Broward County Veterans Council and is the only veteran in the District 92 race, having served in the US Coast Guard. A resident of Broward County since he was six years old, LaFontaine is the owner of a successful accounting practice based in Oakland Park, is a board member of Oakland Park Main Street, which is guiding that city's development, and also has been a member of the Fort Lauderdale Audit Advisory Board, which oversees the city's finances.

On a personal note, I have worked with Mark on many occasions. I know he will be an amazing voice for our community in the Florida legislature. This is a historic chance for the GLBT community to finally have a representative and advocate for our issues in Florida- whether it be fighting to overturn the nation's only complete ban on adoption for gays and lesbians or working to get fully inclusive bullying and non-discrimination laws.

I encourage our readers to support Mark LaFontaine, and the entire GLBT community of Florida, by getting involved in his campaign. This is an amazing chance to begin to turn the tide in Florida government.

To find out more about Mark LaFontaine or help with his campaign, visit www.marklafontaine.com.


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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 23, 2008 11:42 AM

Well done Waymon, an accountant too! That should scare the crap out of the panhandle crackers. Now, my question for my absentee ballot. I own a house in Boynton Beach. Do I still get to vote for him?

RG-

I don't think that Boynton is in his district (Florida House District 92 includes parts of Deerfield Beach , North Lauderdale , Oakland Park , Lazy Lake , Poinsettia Heights , Pompano Beach , Tamarac , Victoria Park and Wilton Manors). But I'm sure the campaign would welcome any support and contributions from the Bilerico readers.

This really is a amazing chance to get a voice for our community elected to the Florida legislature. Plus, having an accountant in Tallahassee would help with the horrible budget issues we are having.

I'm a little concerned about making public comments since even though I don't log-in under my real name, my "handle" is one that I use a lot of different places and it wouldn't be that hard for people who know me to put the pieces together and figure out who I am.

However, I'm taking a chance anyway: I know Mark, personally. We're not friends but I know him well enough to make the judgements I'm about to make. The guy is nice enough and energetic, and I cannot question his good intentions and commitment to our community, but...

I'm amazed that he's picking-up all of these endorsements (he's also been personally endorsed by Barney Frank, btw) when the guy is just not really all that qualified to be running for the office he's running for. And at the risk of sounding REALLY mean-spirited (because I actually DO like the guy and not just because we slept together once-upon-a-time) I'd be really concerned about how capable he is of understanding and making decisions on complex subjects (OK, just how DO you put something like that in a nice way?).

And as for being an accountant, my boyfriend, who is an assistant finance director for a local government (so I think he kind of knows what he's talking about, having risen to that kind of level in his field--and, also, is someone who didn't know Mark from Adam previously, and didn't know that I knew him, either) did not have nice things to say about the competency of some accounting work done by Mark in the recent past.

So, I'm torn. I don't wish to tear-down one of our own, yet I don't want to support someone who I feel may be unqualified for the job just because he IS one of our own. But, I do think that the truth needs to be out there.

But, please, don't take what I have to say as gospel. I could be getting it all completly wrong, so take this as just one person's opinion. It's some information to possibly help paint a clearer picture, nothing more. But I do think it would be wrong to just blindly support someone just because he plays for our team without doing some research of your own and making up your own mind.

OK, I feel a little bit better now, having gotten that off of my chest. Thanks!

Swift,

I'm glad you feel better, but I feel like you've cheapened the debate with these allegations. You admit to sleeping with him before which totally sounds like a bitter queen to me. Maybe he rejected you after sex, maybe he dumped you, maybe he wears his socks inside out. Who knows? We only have your side of the story.

As for your allegations of incompetency, I'm rather disconcerted to know that I'm expected to take your word as gospel over contributor Chuck Wolfe's decision to endorse him as well as Barney Frank. (Granted, his decision making abilities are a little suspect lately!) I'm 110% confident that they've done background checks and research into the candidate. Otherwise, they wouldn't have endorsed him!

Instead we have your hearsay that your boyfriend thinks he does bad accounting work. (Although a long-term career in the business would seem to dispute that - no one would use his services otherwise). We get your word about "how capable he is of understanding and making decisions on complex subjects," but I've not heard a single peep about that from anyone else.

So to sum it up, you think he's not that smart, he does poor accounting work and you've slept with him. Do his feet stink too? Perhaps he picks his nose in private. You're right, there's no way to be "nice" about a bunch of allegations provided without proof.

Usually you leave such thoughtful comments, Swift. This isn't up to your usual standards.

Swift-

I think, whether intentional or not, your comment comes across as a personal issue with Mark. Why else would you mention sleeping with him? (We have no idea if that is true, by the way. And even if it is, I'm not sure what it has to do with a discussion on his ability to be a good leader.) It makes anything you say after that seem like a jealous personal attack.

Also, I question the veracity of your boyfriend's comments about Mark's accounting ability- especially if he had never heard of Mark before, as you say. If he didn't know of Mark at all, then how did he know of Mark's work? That just doesn't add up to me (an accountant pun!) and rings false.

As for making tough decisions and knowing the issues, I actually attended a debate between Mark and his competitors. He had the best grasp of the issues and the most thorough answers and solutions. He proved he is more than just the "gay" candidate- he would be a great legislator on all the issues facing our state.

Maybe it would be best to step back and take out whatever personal feelings or issues you have with Mark and look at his qualifications. I don't know you, but I'm sure that like many of us your personal feelings might cloud your judgment at times.

As Bil said above, personal attacks and allegations only cheapen the debate. I would hope we can move beyond that.

Interesting that my admission to having slept with Mark is the thing that everyone seems to focus in on.

Also interesting that people seemed to just blow right past my request that they NOT take what I said as gospel (and in one case, apparently didn't read carefully enough and thought I was saying that you ARE supposed to take what I said as gospel).

You guys all want to dismiss what I had to say as being a "bitter queen" or something, fine. That's absolutely your right. It is indeed my own personal optionion that Mark is not all that bright (although I mentioned what I had written about him to a friend of mine and their comment was, "Hey even a brief conversation with the guy would convince anybody"). Why else would I go to the trouble to add to the end of my comments that everyone should be doing their own research and not taking what ANYBODY (myself, or Barney Frank or anyone else) says as gospel, unless I WANTED you all to THINK FOR YOURSELVES?

However, I do strongly take exception to being characterized as making "personal attacks" against Mark by trying to add the information I have about a potential candidate for an important State office to the mix. How many of you people who are suddenly supporting this guy have ever met him? I have. I've even spent a whole night with him (several years ago) and have chatted with him on many occasions since (in other words, I've spent considerably more time around him than just a hello and a handshake). So, I have a bit more insight about Mark than your average person on the street who has never actually met him, and I decided to share that insight, for what it's worth to anyone. Not to attack him, but to give people information. What you choose to do with that information is up to you. And I even tried to be as gentle and NON-attacking in my language as I knew how to be (which was obviously completely ignored since I was saying something negative about the Golden Boy that everyone here wants to laud with nothing but praise). Guess I won't bother to even try to be careful about what I say in the future since you folks are just going to read whatever you want into what I have to say.

I also used to be a Board member of the Dolphin Democrats, a Vice-President of the Board of a local GLBT arts organization, very active with the Gay & Lesbian Community Center, and so on. So does that mean that I can claim people are personally attacking ME by calling me a "bitter queen"? And characterizing the posting so far as a "debate" that I'm somehow tainting, that's stretching things an awful lot: this has been about as much a debate as Fox News is "fair & balanced". There was no debate, just a love-fest for some guy you folks have probably never met. And I'm sorry that I rained on your parade, but you know the old phrase, "Don't shoot the messenger"....?

It's also interesting that it was you guys who brought up how WONDERFUL it will be to have someone with accounting expertise in the Legislature, and then go to such efforts to pick-apart my rebuttal of the point you all made about it being such a good thing that he has accounting expertise. I actually HAVE proof and had intended to not mention it to try to keep from sounding like I WAS attacking him (or piling-on or whatever). But, since proof was asked for: if you can get anyone at the Stonewall Library and Archives to give you an honest answer (as opposed to blowing smoke to preserve the reputation of someone in our community who's trying to run for public office) they'll tell you about the horrible job he did keeping their books for a few months until they found someone else. As well as how unreliable he was when he did show up to do anything. The next person to come along after Mark had to undo almost everything that Mark did in order to straighten-out the books again (no pun intended). I'm also not too sure about just how long he's been actually doing accounting professionally or just how successful he's been at it. But I'm not intending to push this any further, other than to show that there is reason to question the endorsements he's received.

In fact, the real point of what I was trying to say in the first place was I'd have thought that people like Barney Frank and the Victory Fund WOULD have "done background checks and research into the candidate." And had I not known Mark personally, I would have continued to assume that he wouldn't be endorsed by such people and/or organizations without some due dilligence on their part, but that certainly doesn't seem to be the case here. I guess I shouldn't give such endorsements that much weight in the future.

Swift-

The reason people are focused on your "I slept with him" comment is because it is a piece of salacious, useless information when it comes to talking about a political candidate. It seems to be thrown in (and you did it again in your second comment) just to be shocking. It really has no place in a talk about if someone if qualified for office. Putting that kind of stuff in your comments just makes your arguments seem weaker.

I also think you take disagreeing with you as "not thinking for ourselves". I think just the opposite is true. We are taking your opinion into account and disputing it with our own.

Your comments just have a lot of "trust me, I know people who would say x,y, and z", but again come off as a personal issue. I tend to doubt when someone says "just ask anybody who's not afraid to say it..."- but that's just me. It all sounds very gossipy.

I do know Mark personally and have worked with him on many occasions and in many groups. We both currently serve on the Dolphin Democrats Board and work together in many of the same community groups. I have always found him to be incredibly intelligent, capable and a hard worker- all things that would make him a good legislator.

I don't think people should blindly support a candidate, which is why I included background on Mark in the post- things he has done both in and out of the LGBT community. Endorsements from groups like the Victory Fund (and from Barney Frank, etc) show the viability of Mark as a candidate. However, my personal knowledge of him and his work are what make me support him. Also, seeing him debate his competitors showed to me that he is indeed the best man in the race.

You don't have to agree with me. I have no problem with that. I just happen to think that having a chance to have a smart, capable person in the legislature who is gay is a great thing for our community.

The fact that I slept with the guy IS a fact, it is information, pure and simple, thrown-in NOT to be salacious (although I'm sure, having been in the Gay Community a while, I should have known that EVERYONE would take it that way) and was there simply to try and help support my assertion that I've been around the guy longer than just a brief meeting or even a short chat at a bar. How YOU guys decide to interpret that information is up to you, and we've all seen how you chose.

Also, since it was brought up, the night we spent together was nice, I think we both had fun, (at least I can speak for myself and say that I did, anyway) and I'm pretty sure that neither of us have any issues about having done it, so the barely-veiled allegations that my comments had anything to do with being "bitter" over something having to do with our tryst are nothing more than projection and taking your own speculation as fact. I do find it hillarious that people who weren't in the room and had NOTHING TO DO with what happened that night seem to have so many issues with it.

But, back to the issue at-hand, at least one person supporting him here knows Mark, so at least I can respect that someone with some actual first-hand knowledge differs with my opinion, and that's fine. That IS exactly what I wanted: to have people be aware that there MAY be reasons to believe that Mark is not really a good fit for the job, and that just being an open member of the Gay Community and even getting such high-powered endorsements maybe aren't enough reasons to decide to support one candidate over another (in other words, find out for yourselves--THINK for yourselves). Many people, even myself, could put together a very impressive-sounding resume of the LGBT groups they've been members of, posts they've held within those groups, how long they've been at various jobs and how long they've lived in places, and can even potentially make deals or call-in favors to get endorsements (however I'm NOT implying Mark has done this--just saying that it IS possible) but that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be a good person for the job. I have reason to believe, having first-hand experience with the guy, that the resume and the endorsements MAY be a bit misplaced or misleading. If other people have more to base their decision on than just the say-so of his resume and the endorsements and have a different opinion than mine, then that's perfectly fine.

If you all are going to insist on trying to make more of my comments than that, I can't stop you, but so far everyone's allegations about why I've said what I said have been off-the-mark, and some even border on slanderous. I never used words like "incompetence" but you guys did and have attributed it to me. You also keep trying to hold my comments up as if I'm involved with some scholarly debate over Mark and his candidacy, and keep telling me how certain comments I've made "don't prove my point". I'm not trying to PROVE ANYTHING. (Although when challenged for said proof, I tried to provide what I had, and even the request for proof that I did sleep with Mark could be provided, too, if I didn't get around to throwing-out an article of clothing he left at my place--but I digress.) I'm just tossing-out an opinion that I have (although I have tried to show WHY I feel as I do and upon what basis I've come to have the opinion I have) and if people want to listen to what I have to say, fine, and if they don't, that's fine too. Just because I say, "The Emperor has no clothes!" doesn't mean that he does or he doesn't, but hopefully it'll raise a red flag to you that you should have a careful look for yourself and find out. If you take the time to go look for yourself and see with your own eyes that he does have clothes, then you've got every right in the world to disagree with me. If you're going to take someone else's word that he's wearing clothes and STILL try to argue with me, AND cast aspersions about why I claimed he was naked in the first place, that just doesn't fly.