Sybrina Fulton announces her candidacy for Miami-Dade County Commission
In announcing her campaign for a seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission, activist-turned-candidate Sybrina Fulton held up her 24 years of employment at the county as an asset to her first political campaign.
She’s held positions in multiple departments of Miami-Dade’s vast bureaucracy, including solid waste management, procurement and public housing — jobs she emphasized will give her a ground-level understanding of the role county government plays in people’s daily lives.
Yet it was the event that thrust her into the public spotlight, the shooting death of her teenage son Trayvon Martin, that she said catapulted her into advocacy against gun violence and now, a run for public office. Martin’s death sparked a national conversation about gun violence and race relations in the U.S.
On Monday, in a crowded storefront of a strip mall on Northwest 27th Avenue, Fulton told about 100 supporters and media her son’s killing rerouted her into a life of advocacy that has naturally evolved into a bid to represent District 1 at County Hall.
“I did not drop to my knees for too long, because I refused to be depressed,” she said. “I stood up. When my son got shot down, I stood up. And I’m still standing.”
Her advocacy work led to her founding the nonprofit Trayvon Martin Foundation, headquartered in Miami Gardens. She grew up in the area, graduating from Miami Norland Senior High School and Florida Memorial University.
Fulton said public safety and gun-violence prevention will be central themes of her campaign. She called for robust community policing and programs to address mental illness, gang culture and other root causes of violence.
“When I was growing up, I never even knew anyone who had gotten shot and killed,” she said. “But now, I ask a 6-year-old, and they have two, three, four friends that have been shot and killed.”
Fulton said her time in Miami-Dade’s housing department gave her insight into the county’s affordability problem. She advocates for helping residents work toward moving out of subsidized housing and eventually into homeownership.
With Fulton’s announcement, there’s officially a race to represent District 1, a dense swath of suburban Miami-Dade that includes Miami Gardens — the county’s third most populous city — and Opa-locka. She’s running against Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert to fill the seat that will be vacated by term-limited Commissioner Barbara Jordan.
Fulton’s candidacy pits her against an experienced politician who is popular in county government circles. Gilbert, who is term-limited as mayor in 2020, became the second mayor of Miami Gardens in 2012 after four years as a councilman. In January, elected officials from across the county elected Gilbert chairman of the Transportation Planning Organization. After confirming his intention to run for District 1 in January, he has raised $268,270, according to the most recent campaign reports.