Eleanor Sobel

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Eleanor Sobel
State Senator Eleanor Sobel.jpg
Member of the Florida Senate
from the 33rd district
Assumed office
November 20, 2012
Preceded by Oscar Braynon
Member of the Florida Senate
from the 31st district
In office
November 18, 2008 – November 20, 2012
Preceded by Steven Geller
Succeeded by Chris Smith
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 99th district
In office
November 19, 2002 – November 21, 2006
Preceded by Tim M. Ryan
Succeeded by Elaine Schwartz
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 100th district
In office
November 17, 1998 – November 19, 2002
Preceded by Fred Lippman
Succeeded by Tim M. Ryan
Personal details
Born (1946-02-11) February 11, 1946 (age 69)
Brooklyn, New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Dr. Stuart Sobel
Alma mater Brooklyn College (B.A.)
City University of New York (M.A.)
Columbia University (M.A.)
Profession Teacher and community activist
Religion Judaism

Eleanor Sobel (born February 11, 1946) is a Democratic member of the Florida State Senate, representing the 33rd District, which includes Davie, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, and Pembroke Pines in southeastern Broward County, since 2012, previously representing the 31st District from 2008 to 2012. Before winning election to the Florida Senate, Sobel served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 100th District from 1998 to 2002 and the 99th District from 2002 to 2006.


Sobel was born in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Brooklyn College, graduating with a degree in history in 1967. She then attended the City University of New York, where she received a master's degree in social studies education in 1968, and Columbia University, receiving a master's degree in learning disabilities in 1975. In 1976, Sobel moved to Florida, where she worked as a school teacher and a community activist, working on the campaigns of mayoral candidate Mara Giulanti and City Commission candidate Kenneth A. Gottlieb, who would later go on to serve in the Florida House of Representatives with Sobel. When Suzanne Gunzburger resigned from the Hollywood City Commission following her election to the Broward County Commission, Sobel was elected by the City Commission to replace her on November 20, 1992.[1] When Sobel ran for re-election in March 1994, the Sun-Sentinel endorsed her opponent, suggesting that her appointment to the City Commission was "cronyism" and that she was a "part of the Giulianti political machine" and "has been a part of the poor decision-making by the commission."[2] Despite this, Sobel ultimately won re-election. She served on the City Commission until 1998, when she was narrowly defeated for re-election by former Mayor Sal Oliveri by just 139 votes. In light of her defeat, she remarked, "I look out there and I see people who have worked together, a city that has moved forward in four years. We tried our best. These things happen."[3]

Florida House of Representatives[edit]

When incumbent State Representative Fred Lippman declined to seek another term in 1998, Sobel ran to succeed him in the 100th District, which included Hallandale Beach and Hollywood in southern Broward County. She faced Arthur Palamara, Mike Mallor, and Doria Bonham-Yeaman in the Democratic primary, which also served as the general election because no other candidates filed, and a contentious election, largely between Sobel and Palamara, soon followed. Sobel campaigned on reducing class sizes, providing funding for pre-school programs, reforming HMO practices, providing health care for the working poor, and reducing crime by increasing victims' rights and expanding after-school programs and neighborhood crime watch organizations.[4] In the end, Sobel defeated her opponents to win her party's nomination, receiving 53% of the vote to Palamara's 42%, Bonham-Yeaman's 3%, and Mallor's 2%. Running for re-election in 2000, she faced Eric Spivey, the Republican nominee and a former insurance executive. Sobel was endorsed for re-election by the Sun-Sentinel, which praised her "lengthy experience in public office" and for doing a "decent job of representing her district," concluding, "[S]he deserves the opportunity to gain more experience and seniority in the state Legislature."[5] Spivey did not prove to be a serious challenge for Sobel, and she won re-election in a landslide, receiving 73% of the vote to Spivey's 27%. She was re-elected without opposition in 2002 and 2004, and could not seek another term in 2006 due to term limits.

Broward County School Board[edit]

In 2006, when Sobel could not seek another term in the legislature due to term limits, she instead opted to run for an open seat on the Broward County School Board. In a nonpartisan election, she faced Terry Snipes, a teacher, and Mac McElyea, the former Mayor of Dania Beach, and campaigned on leading a nationwide search for a superintendent, "implementing the class-size amendment, improving the dropout rate in high schools and hiring a nurse for every school." Once again, Sobel was endorsed by the Sun-Sentinel, which declared, "Eleanor Sobel is the best of three candidates for the job," citing her experience in the legislature.[6] She ended up winning by a wide margin, receiving 51% of the vote to McElyea's 25% and Snipes's 24%.[7]

Florida Senate[edit]

When State Senator Steven Geller was unable to seek re-election, Sobel ran to succeed him in the 31st District, which was based in Broward County, and submitted her resignation from the School Board.[8] She faced former State Representatives Kenneth A. Gottlieb and Tim M. Ryan in the Democratic primary, and the Sun-Sentinel remarked that all three candidates were "cut-from-the-same-cloth" who "compiled similar voting records and took similar positions on issues." Despite that, however, they endorsed Ryan in what they called "a tough choice," suggesting, "Ryan offers the most promise in taking lessons learned from his legislative experience and using them to work with senators on both sides of the aisle to get things done."[9] Ultimately, Sobel emerged narrowly victorious over her opponents, receiving 36% of the vote to Gottlieb's 34% and Ryan's 31%, and advanced to the general election, where she received nearly 100% of the vote against only write-in opposition.

When the state's legislative districts were redrawn in 2012, Sobel ran for re-election in the newly created 33rd District, which contained much of the territory that she had previously represented. She won the Democratic primary uncontested, and faced Juan Selaya, the Republican nominee, in the general election. The Sun-Sentinel endorsed her for re-election, praising her as "a strong voice in Tallahassee for education, health care issues and senior citizens' services."[10] Sobel ended up defeating Selaya with 67% of the vote.

While serving in the Senate, Sobel initially supported legislation during the 2013 legislative session sponsored by State Senator David H. Simmons that would bar local governments from enacting legislation that sets different minimum wage standards than statewide law, but ultimately voted against it, noting, "The people should decide which direction local government will go."[11] Additionally, she sponsored legislation that would increase "oversight of Florida's nearly 3,000 assisted living facilities," which was unanimously approved by the Senate but did not get a vote in the House.[12] When Lisa Edgar was renominated to the Public Service Commission, Sobel joined with fellow State Senator Jack Latvala to unsuccessfully oppose her nomination, criticizing her for being too friendly towards utility company.[13] During the 2014 legislative session, Sobel spoke out strongly against legislation authored by State Senator Alan Hays that "would restrict judges from considering foreign law in matters of divorce, alimony, child support and custody," which was an attempt to prevent Sharia law from being enforced in the state,[14] and against legislation sponsored by Kelli Stargel that would allow for murder or manslaughter charges to be filed against anyone who kills or injures a fetus "that could have survived outside the womb" during a crime. Sobel emphasized the unintended consequences that could result from Stargel's bill, saying, "An assumption of guilt is in this bill, and I don't think that's fair. I think we really need to examine where we're headed."[15]


  1. ^ French, Bob (December 11, 1992). "Commissioner Embraces New Job: Eleanor Sobel Strives To Preserve Hollywood's Many Neighborhoods". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Hollywood Voters Should Keep Giulianti, Add Blattner, Mack To City Commission". Sun-Sentinel. February 24, 1994. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  3. ^ Cazares, David (March 11, 1998). "Giulitani, Again: Ex-mayor Oliveri Ousts Commissioner Sobel". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  4. ^ McMahon, Paula (August 22, 1998). "At Issue In District 100: Money And Commitment". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Re-elect Eleanor Sobel". Sun-Sentinel. October 27, 2000. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  6. ^ "School Board: Elect Eleanor Sobel In District 1". Sun-Sentinel. October 31, 2006. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  7. ^ "2006 General Election 11/7/2006". Broward County Supervisor of Elections. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  8. ^ Wallman, Brittany (May 22, 2008). "Goodbye, Eleanor Sobel". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Florida Senate: Choose Ryan In Senate District 31". Sun-Sentinel. August 7, 2008. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  10. ^ "State Senate Districts 29, 31 and 33: Re-elect Ring, Smith, Sobel". Sun-Sentinel. October 18, 2012. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  11. ^ Deslatte, Aaron (April 26, 2013). "Senate approves bill to prevent local sick-time laws". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  12. ^ Koff, Rochelle (May 3, 2013). "Assisted living facility reforms fail to pass". Miami Herald. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  13. ^ Klas, Mary Ellen (May 3, 2013). "Edgar gets Senate confirmation despite tough criticism". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  14. ^ Alanez, Tonya (April 28, 2014). "State senators advance controversial 'anti-Sharia' bill". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  15. ^ Alanez, Tonya (April 23, 2014). "Bill criminalizing fetal death, injury heads to Gov. Scott". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 

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