Andrew Gillum

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Andrew Gillum
Gillum.jpg
Mayor of Tallahassee
Assumed office
November 21, 2014
Preceded by John Marks
Member of the
Tallahassee City Commission
for Seat 2
In office
February 2003 – November 2014
Preceded by John Paul Bailey
Succeeded by Curtis B. Richardson
Personal details
Born (1979-07-26) July 26, 1979 (age 39)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jai Howard
Children 3
Education Florida A&M University (BA)
Website Official website

Andrew Demese Gillum (born July 26, 1979) is the mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, serving since 2014. He is the Democratic Party nominee for governor of Florida in the 2018 election. He previously served on the Tallahassee City Commission from 2003 to 2014; at 23 years old, he became the city's youngest commissioner.[1]

In 2018, Gillum became the Florida Democratic Party's nominee for governor of Florida when he won the Democratic primary election over a field of five other candidates including former U.S. representative Gwen Graham and former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine. He will compete against Republican U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis in the general election.[2][3]

A progressive, Gillum is considered to be a politician in the mold of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, the highest-ranking elected official to support his primary candidacy.[4][5][6]

Early life and education[edit]

Gillum was born in Miami and raised in Gainesville. He is the fifth of seven children born to Charles and Frances Gillum, a construction worker and school bus driver, respectively. In 1998 he graduated from Gainesville High School and was recognized by the Gainesville Sun as one of the city's "Persons of the Year". He then moved to Tallahassee to attend Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) to major in political science.[7]

Gillum served as President of the FAMU Student Government Association from 2001–2002, and was the first student member of FAMU Board of Trustees. He was recognized by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation as "Emerging Leader for 2003". Gillum was also a Board member of the Black Youth Vote Coalition, a program of the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation in Washington, D.C.. Gillum was elected to the Tallahassee City Commission prior to the completion of his college career.[8][7]

Political career[edit]

City of Tallahassee Commissioner[edit]

In 2003, at age 23, Gillum was elected to the Tallahassee City Commission for a one-year term, becoming the youngest person to be elected to the commission.[9] Gillum was a political science student at FAMU when he was elected.[7]

He was subsequently elected to a full four-year term, in 2004, garnering 72 percent of the vote, and was reelected in 2008 and again in 2012.[9]

Gillum served a one-year term as Mayor Pro Tem from November 10, 2004 through November 9, 2005. The joint body of City and County Commissioners, known as the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency, elected him to serve as their chairperson for a year (January 2005 through December 2005). Gillum has also served as lead commissioner for the Long Range Community Based Target Issue Committee.[10]

In 2005, Gillum was one of the commissioners who voted to give themselves a new retirement benefit through deferred compensation. The policy was later repealed by the commission after public outrage.[7]

City of Tallahassee projects[edit]

During his eleven years as a city commissioner Gillum championed a number of community enrichment projects.[11] The Digital Harmony Project is an initiative championed by Gillum with support from the City of Tallahassee, local businesses and technology partnerships. Digital Harmony won the Significant Achievement Award in the Web & e-Government Services category from the Public Technology Institute. For the first two years, it provided every incoming Nims Middle School sixth and seventh-grader with a new desktop computer, free internet access and online academic curriculum training on core subjects. The school holds ongoing training courses for parents and students on basic computer skills and school curriculum. This effort places 200 computers into the homes of Nims Middle School students.[12]

Gillum championed the opening of the first Tallahassee Teen Center, The Palmer Munroe Center, which serves as a safe haven for many area youth and operates a restorative justice program.[13] Restorative justice programs have shown significant success, compared to non-restorative measures, in improving victim and/or offender satisfaction, increasing offender compliance with restitution,and decreasing the recidivism of offenders.[14] Gillum stressed these results as some of the reasons for the great importance of the Palmer Munroe Center.[15]

Gillum supported the city's development project of Cascades Park, located in downtown Tallahassee. The park was built in 2013 and doubles as a storm-water management facility, protecting local neighborhoods from flooding.[7]

Mayor of Tallahassee[edit]

Election[edit]

In April 2013, Andrew Gillum announced his intention to run for mayor of Tallahassee.[16] Gillum ran against three opponents: Larry Hendricks, Zach Richardson, and write-in candidate Evin Matthews.[17] In the August 26, 2014 nonpartisan primary, Gillum defeated Richardson and Hendricks; capturing 76 percent of the vote with 19,658 votes.[18] On August 27, 2014, write-in candidate Evin Matthews withdrew from the race, resulting in Gillum becoming mayor-elect.[19]

Tenure in office[edit]

Before taking office, Gillum met with various mayors to learn from their successes.[20] He also launched the Tallahassee Mayoral Fellows Program in partnership with Florida Agricultural And Mechanical University and Florida State University, allowing high-achieving graduate students to gain experience working in City government.[21] Gillum was sworn into Office on November 21, 2014.[22]

In January 2015, Gillum strongly supported the City of Tallahassee joining in the Ban the Box campaign; arguing that the initiative does not stop the city from conducting background checks, but rather gives applicants a fair shot at employment and reduces recidivism.[23] On January 28 the Tallahassee City Commission voted 3-2 to drop the box.[24]

On February 17, 2015 Gillum welcomed United States Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, to Tallahassee to kick off the GROW AMERICA Express Tour.[25] Gillum also contributed to the DOT Fastlane Blog, in which he stressed the importance of long-term transportation investments for America's mid-size cities.[26]

In an effort to overhaul how City Advisory Committees, a series of local advisory boards, operate in Tallahassee, Mayor Gillum released a survey in March 2015 to gain feedback into the city's numerous boards and motivate citizens to get involved with local government.[27] Also in March 2015, Gillum participated in a conference call with other Florida mayors and United States Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Bruce Andrews; a call in which Gillum stated his support for Congress to pass trade promotion legislation that would bolster international trade, and stressed the importance for local governments of a leveled playing field.[28]

On March 27, 2015, Gillum held the Mayor's Summit on Children,[29] a large conference in which business and community leaders came together to learn about the importance of investments in quality Early Childhood Education (ECE).[30] Speakers included Dr. Craig Ramey, distinguished research scholar of human development at Virginia Tech University, who spoke about the importance of ECE to language development and the vocabulary gap that can form between those who receive quality ECE and those who do not; and Rob Grunewald, economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, who spoke about the importance of early learning to the long-term economic success of a community.

On the heels of the Summit on Children, Gillum launched four community-led task forces as part of his Family First Agenda; these task forces, which Gillum introduced at the Summit, examine: Improved Quality and Affordable Child Care, Family Friendly Workplaces and Culture, Greater Community Investments in Children and Families, and Resources and Training for Parents and Families.[31] Gillum stressed that investments in early childhood education have been proven to return six dollars for every one dollar invested; this is due to lowering community costs on those children as they grow older.[32]

In May 2015, Gillum launched a 1,000 Mentors Initiative, which aimed to recruit 1,000 men and women from diverse backgrounds to increase youth mentoring opportunities in Tallahassee, and help youth in need.[33] Also in May 2015, Gillum, in partnership with several local and national organizations, orchestrated the Tallahassee Future Leaders Academy (TFLA), a summer jobs program which employed over 100 youths throughout city government.[34] Gillum summarized the importance of a program like the TFLA in a July Op-ed, in which he highlighted how similar summer jobs programs from around the country have been shown to reduce arrests for violent crime, reduce youth mortality rates, and increase the likelihood of college attendance.[35]

In response to an increase in shootings Gillum and the Tallahassee Police Department, worked with community organizations to implement Operation Safe Neighborhoods in 2015.[36][37] This initiative called for an increase in law enforcement visibility and capacity; strengthening strategic partnerships and community programs/opportunities; and enhancing community engagement and response, through the implementation of a community watch program called, Neighbors on the Block.[38]

In October 2015, more than 400 strangers gathered around a 350-foot-long table in downtown Tallahassee to participate in the launch of The Longest Table, an annual initiative aiming to use the dinner table as a medium for generating meaningful conversation among people of diverse ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds. Organized by the Office of the Mayor and spearheaded by Community Engagement Director Jamie Van Pelt, the project won a $57,250 grant from the Knight Cities Challenge via the Knight Foundation.[39]

Corruption and misuse investigations[edit]

In February 2017, Gillum apologized after the Tallahassee Democrat reported that his government office had been used to send emails through web-based software purchased by NGP VAN, a company that provides technology to Democratic and progressive campaigns.[40] An investigation into the emails started after Paul Henry, a retired state trooper from Monticello, wrote State Attorney Jack Campbell in March to allege Gillum committed grand theft and official misconduct by paying for the software with city funds when he believed they served no public purpose. A Leon County grand jury cleared Gillum of any wrongdoing.[41]

During his mayoral campaign in 2014, Gillum faced allegations of misconduct after hiring private equity investor Adam Corey as the treasurer. Corey is an investor in The Edison, a restaurant that received taxpayer money from the city to help with the Cascades Park development project. During a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation into the matter, city officials stated that Gillum's vote did not constitute a conflict of interest[7] and Gillum cut ties with Corey.[42]

2018 gubernatorial election[edit]

Gillum announced his candidacy for governor in March 2017, and was the first to declare his intention to run as a Democrat.[43][44] Gillum won the Democratic nomination for governor in an upset victory over the expected winner, former congresswoman Gwen Graham, 34–31%. Gillum is the first black nominee for governor of Florida.[45] He will face Ron DeSantis in the general election.[46]

Political positions[edit]

Gillum has been described as a progressive[47] and, by some conservative sources, as a democratic socialist.[48] During the 2018 gubernatorial campaign, DeSantis said that Gillum had a "far left socialist platform"; PolitiFact rated this assertion as false, noting that Gillum's platform is similar to those of other Democrats and within the mainstream of public opinion.[49]

Gillum supports the replacement of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with the U.S. Department of Justice. He seeks to expand Medicaid to cover "...700,000 people, who right now don't have access to health care".[50] He supports the removal of Confederate monuments.[51] Gillum wants to raise the Florida corporate tax rate to 7.75 percent, up from the current 5.5 percent, which he said would generate $1 billion in revenue which would be used on education funding.[52] Gillum supports a $15 minimum wage.[53] He is endorsed by Bernie Sanders and has received financial support from Tom Steyer and George Soros.[54][55] Gillum has called for the impeachment of Donald Trump.[56] Gillum accepts the scientific consensus on climate change, and has warned that climate change causes sea level rise with adverse effects for Florida.[57][58] He opposed the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and said that he would as Florida governor work with other states in a state-based climate alliance.[59]

Gillum opposes Florida's Stand-your-ground law.[53] Gillum is in favor of a 2018 ballot proposition, Amendment 4, to restore the voting rights of most individuals who have completed felony convictions (excluding individuals guilty of murder or sexual offenses).[60][53] Gillum said, "Floridians who have paid their debts deserve a second chance and they should have a voice in our state’s future. Our current system for rights restoration is a relic of Jim Crow that we should end for good."[61]

Professional career[edit]

As former National Director of the Young Elected Officials Network with People For the American Way Foundation, Gillum spearheaded a program that seeks to unite elected officials age 35 and under in a network which supports them with leadership and personal development training and public policy support. With Gillum at the helm, in May 2006, the program evolved into a national network that links young elected officials across the country and helps identify solutions to the challenges facing our communities and states. Gillum also served as Field Organizer and statewide Director of the "Arrive With 5" program with People For the American Way Foundation. He organized the largest "Arrive With 5" get-out-the-vote campaign in Florida's history. He also worked as Deputy Political Director with the Florida Democratic Party. He currently serves as Director of Youth Leadership Programs with People For the American Way Foundation.[62] According to hacked emails of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chief, Gillum’s name appeared on an early list of contenders for Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 Presidential election.[63]

Honors and accolades[edit]

Gillum has received various honors and accolades. While attending FAMU, Gillum was recognized by the National Center for Policy Alternatives in Washington, D.C. as the country's top student leader in 2001.[64] In 2004, he was named to Ebony magazine's "Fast Track 30 Leaders Who Are 30 and Under."[65] In 2007, Gillum was recognized as an Emerging Leader of the month by IMPACT and subsequently became their inaugural Emerging Leader of the Year during the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference in September 2007.[66] Gillum was named as a "2010 Emerging Leader" by Essence Magazine.[67]

As part of Florida A&M University's 2012 125th Anniversary Quasiquicentennial Celebration, Gillum was honored as an Outstanding Alumnus, along with 124 other FAMU alumni.[68] Also in 2012, Gillum was named as one of "50 Young Progressive Activists Who Are Changing America," by the Huffington Post.[69] In 2014, Gillum was named as one of the 40 Under 40 by the Washington Post political blog "The Fix."[70]

Personal life[edit]

On May 24, 2009 Gillum married R. Jai Howard, a fellow FAMU graduate.[71] Gillum and R. Jai have three children.[8][72]

Electoral history[edit]

Tallahassee City Commission, 2003–2012[edit]

2003 Nonpartisan Primary,
Tallahassee City Commission Seat 2[73]
Candidate Votes %
Mayo Woodward 7,627 29.1
Andrew D. Gillum 6,662 25.4
Bob Henderson 6,439 24.5
Norma Parrish 4,090 15.6
Jack Traylor 1,013 3.9
Joshua Hicks 414 1.6
Total votes 26,245
2003 Nonpartisan Runoff,
Tallahassee City Commission Seat 2[74]
Candidate Votes %
Andrew D. Gillum 16,119 56.9
Mayo Woodward 12,206 43.1
Total votes 28,325
2004 Nonpartisan Primary,
Tallahassee City Commission Seat 2[75]
Candidate Votes %
Andrew D. Gillum 22,040 72.0
Allen Turnage 4,670 15.3
D.J. Johnson 3,903 12.8
Total votes 30,613
2008 Election,
Tallahassee City Commission Seat 2[76]
Candidate Votes %
Andrew D. Gillum Unopposed
2012 Nonpartisan Primary,
Tallahassee City Commission Seat 2[77]
Candidate Votes %
Andrew D. Gillum 20,329 72.2
Nick Halley 3,321 11.8
David (Bubba) Riddle 2,738 9.7
Jacob S. Eaton 1,769 6.3
Total votes 28,157

Mayor of Tallahassee, 2014[edit]

2014 Nonpartisan Primary,
Mayor of Tallahassee[78]
Candidate Votes %
Andrew D. Gillum 19,805 75.7
Zack Richardson 3,705 14.2
Larry Hendricks 2,661 10.2
Total votes 26,171

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John Marks
Mayor of Tallahassee
2014-present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Charlie Crist
Democratic nominee for Governor of Florida
2018
Most recent