BY BUDDY NEVINS
I’ve seen literally hundreds of candidates give campaign speeches.
There are candidates who are windbags, and those who have nothing to say. There are candidates can’t put into words why you should vote for them. There are candidates who are just bores.
And then there is Circuit Court judicial candidate Julio Gonzalez.
I had forgotten how good Gonzalez’s campaign speech was until I listened again this week at the Hollywood Democrat Club. He sums up his experience and why he wants to be a judge in a compelling three-minute package.
Too many other candidates are unprepared. They can’t compress their message into three minutes. Or they don’t know what points are important to touch.
Before running for judge, every candidate should listen closely to Gonzalez.
Don’t get me wrong. There are others out there with good stories to tell. But I believe Gonzalez is the most interesting.
Reasons He is So Good
Perhaps most important, he was a judge before.
That’s not all. He has a great life story to tell.
Julio is not some rich kids son who graduated law school with a feeling of entitlement. He struggled and fought his way up. His story is the American Dream.
Dominican-born, Gonzalez’s family moved to New York City for a better life. The way out for Julio was education and he excelled, graduating Syracuse University of Law.
His first job: Assistant District Attorney, Kings County, New York prosecuting all types of crime. That’s Brooklyn for those of you not familiar with NYC.
Judicial candidates can talk about experience. I don’t think there is any better experience than working as a prosecutor (or public defender) in a place like Brooklyn.
There is nothing you don’t see. There is nothing you don’t experience.
Gonzalez knows enough that successful campaigners seek to find some commonality with their audience. To make a connection with their audiences’ lives. So he told the Hollywood Democrats he got sick of the snow and moved to South Florida…just like so many of them.
He worked as a Miami-Dade State Attorney prosecutor, another pressure-cooker job where he learned a lot.
Was appointed a County Court judge in 2006. By 2008 he was rated the highest-ranking County Court judge in Broward by the Bar just before he was defeated for re-eleciton.
Why He Lost: Bias
He was beaten for one reason — his name was Julio Gonzalez. He was targeted because his name is Spanish. And sadly, it worked.
He has been off the bench four years, doing general law.
That’s his experience, better than most running for the bench. With the clock running out on his speech, Gonzalez touched on why he wants to be a judge.
When he was a elementary school kid, his grandfather had a run-in with the cops for not cleaning up the sidewalk in front of his store. Young Julio went to court as the translator.
When Julio began to speak, the judge cut him off. He refused to hear the grandfather’s story.
“We keep clean sidewalks in this country,” the judge rudely snapped and slapped the grandfather with a $100 fine.
The incident make an impact on young Julio. When he became a lawyer, his goal was to become a judge who was different than the one he met with the grandfather that day.
He saw first hand that arrogance had no place on the bench.
He would become a judge that listens. To all sides. He would be patient.
Nobody would be treated like his grandfather was in his court. No matter if they were rich or poor. No matter where they were from.
And when he was a judge for two years, that is exactly what lawyers said he was: Fair.
It was a compelling speech on why voters should choose Julio Gonzalez… all in three minutes.
*I must add, for full disclosure, that Gonzalez worked for awhile for Ponzi scamster Scott Rothstein’s law firm. He has not be tied to any wrongdoing in the media or by the authorities.