By Agrippina Fadel
Vice Mayor Mike Gelin pulled out of the League of Women Voters of Broward County virtual forum, essentially canceling and removing the opportunity for residents to learn more about the two candidates running for the mayoral seat.
The forum, scheduled for Monday, October 17, was canceled after the League received an email from Gelin that morning stating he would not be attending. The message from the League on the organization’s Facebook page stated that it is the organization’s policy to “not hold single-candidate events” in an effort to not appear as favoring one candidate over the other.
A city hall source who preferred to stay anonymous disclosed that in his email, Gelin apologized for the late notice and stated that a “packed schedule” and “client meetings throughout the day” prevented him from attending.
Gelin is challenging the incumbent, Michelle Gomez, in the race.
After the cancellation news, numerous residents on the Tamarac Talk and Tamarac Talk Facebook group mentioned the flyers they received this week in their mailboxes and emails, smearing Gomez with baseless claims and calling her “MAGA Michelle.”
One of the readers stated that Gelin was “too busy playing dirty politics” to participate in the forum.
Hours later, he added that all the images were renamed, the “MGelin” prefix replaced with “magamichelle.”
Mayor Gomez was “very disappointed about the cancellation” and was looking forward to an opportunity to discuss the topics important to the League of Women Voters members and supporters.
“I understand the League’s decision to cancel when there are only two candidates in the race, and they do not want to appear to favor one over the other,” Gomez said.
When commenting on the smear campaign allegedly started by Gelin, she said it is a shame that her opponent would stoop to that level, knowing all the claims are “lies and misstatements.”
“We should be running this race based on why we are the best candidates and not by trying to smear our opponents’ names,” said Gomez, adding that if the residents have any questions, they can always ask her for clarification and stating that the mailers are full of “disgusting blatant lies” and some things that were taken entirely out of context.
“I made a commitment to everyone who supports me to run a clean race,” Gomez said.
There is also a smear campaign against Gelin with Not-Gelin.com by Don K. Frazier. It is unknown who Frazier is or where he lives.
We contacted Vice Mayor Gelin for the comment but have not received a reply as of press time.
The forum for the candidates in Districts 2 and 4 is scheduled for Wednesday, October 19, at 7 p.m. The event is live-streamed and will be available. Details here.
The League of Women Voters of Broward County is a nonpartisan organization.
Update: Vice Mayor Mike Gelin reached out to Tamarac Talk after the article was published to share his side of the story: “The initial date proposed by the League was Wednesday which was a date I could actually make. I tried to accommodate my opponent who could not make Wednesday’s meeting. Monday is always a busy day for me and while I wanted to participate I could not and no other dates were proposed.”
- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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