By C.B. Hanif
“District 84 goes all the way out to the Glades, so I have to do a lot of traveling,” said former Delray Beach Commissioner Mackenson Bernard. He’ll be doing a lot more if he wins the Florida House of Representatives seat he is seeking.
“Mack” Bernard has resigned his commission seat to run for the state House district that stretches from North Palm Beach to West Palm Beach and the Glades.
With the July 28 qualifying deadline looming, two other Democrats had announced their intention for the Aug. 25 special primary election: Former state Rep. James Henry “Hank” Harper Jr. and Riviera Beach Councilman Cedrick Thomas.
The short-notice primary was needed after Republican Gov. Charlie Crist crossed party lines to appoint then-District 84 Rep. Priscilla Taylor to the District 7 Palm Beach County Commission seat from which Addie Green, the only African-American member, resigned in April citing health concerns.
Bernard, originally appointed to the Delray Commission in 2008 to fill Brenda Montague’s term when she resigned, planned to finish the remainder of the term to which he was elected in March, then seek term-limited Taylor’s District 84 seat.
But the University of Florida law and Atlantic High School grad, who was raised in Delray after coming from Haiti at age 10, said, “Timing is everything. If I don’t take that opportunity now, I don’t know if I will ever get that opportunity (again).” No Republican is expected to enter the race in the African-American and Democrat-dominated district. In that case, the election will be won in the dueling-nicknames primary as “Mack” and “Hank” muster votes during the summer doldrums.
West Palm Beach business consultant Harper was a legislative aide and District 84 rep before losing a commission bid. During his July 14 campaign kickoff he cited his experience, his fifth-generation roots and focus on creating jobs.
Attorney Bernard, who would have to move into the district by the Sept. 22 general election date, said his own experience, understanding of the issues and ability to work with people across lines make him the best choice.
“I want to thank the citizens of Delray Beach for their graciousness in letting me have the opportunity to serve,” he said, adding that the all-white-male commission should replace him with “someone who has a different voice to address the needs of the community. I worked closely with the commission to do that.” Delray Beach is accepting applications to fill City Commission Seat No. 4. Applications will be accepted beginning Aug. 11 until 5:00 p.m. Aug. 25 in the form of a letter of intent and resume to be submitted to the City Manager’s Office. For more information, call (561) 243-7010.