Broward Politics: Candidates Show Just How Much Immigrants Can Achieve






Immigrants may be bête noires for some Age of Trump voters. But that hate is much, much less evidenced in Broward County.

Our neighborhoods are filled with people from all over the globe. Most appear to get along.

Immigrants may be your physician or own the restaurant where you eat. They may be cutting your lawn, cutting your hair or cutting your taxes. They may fix your roof, fix your computer or fix your teeth.

And in the last decades immigrants also have been seeking your vote.

This year there are two new faces seeking Broward Circuit Court seats, one born in the Soviet Union and another from Israel.

Here is their stories:

Israeli-born Circuit Court Judge Yael “Elle” Gamm was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott a year ago and is running in her first election.


Yael Gamm



Soviet-born Maria Weekes spent the last five years prosecuting shooting cases at the Broward State Attorney’s Office and now wants to be a judge.


Maria Weekes


Both are experienced enough to do the job.

Gamm is 42. She has been a judge since February, 2017 after a career in the State Attorney’s Office. The State Attorney’s Office named her Top Trial Convictor of Violent Career Criminals in 2016 and 2017.

Weekes is 34.  She was a trial lawyer on dozens of civil trials. She has also been an Assistant State Attorney for the past five years, most recently helping to prosecute shooting cases.

Weekes story is dramatic and should resonate with many voters:

“When you are coming from a communist country, you don’t really have anything other than the clothes on your back. So when we came here, we lived in a two-bedroom apartment with 10 other family members. And we were on public assistance. I think growing up like that you quickly realize to achieve that dream of a better life you have to have a lot of perseverance…,” Weekes says.

Sometimes those who receive welfare are just seeking a helping hand, not a freebie. Weekes has more than paid back.

Gamm’s life has been less stirring, until you consider this from her campaign website:

“She was born to first generation Israeli parents. Her grandparents had relocated to Israel from Eastern Europe, where they were liberated from the concentration camps in the late 1940’s. With three generations of family and extended family, she relocated to Long Island, New York as a child.”

So both candidates — like many immigrants — had a tougher childhood than many native-born Americans. They were forced to inhabit a new world and master a new language, learning English when other kids’ were learning the ins-and-outs of Mario Brothers.

Gamm is so far unopposed.

Weekes is running for an open seat against three opponents — Rhoda Sokoloff, Dale Miller and J. James Curry. Sokoloff, Miller and Curry are retreads who have run and lost previously.

Gamm and Weekes’ candidacies are inspiring, when you consider that not so long ago they were little girls being dragged to a foreign land and an uncertain life by their parents.

Look at them today!

Both have educations, great careers and homes in the suburb. Both have two young children and a dog — Gamm has a collie and Weekes has a Laborador.

Some would call their lives The American Dream.

I would say that Gamm and Weekes are already winners….regardless of who wins the August primaries.

10 Responses to “Broward Politics: Candidates Show Just How Much Immigrants Can Achieve”

  1. Kids die and get abused, it happens? says:

    I was sad to see Lori Parrish, Marty Kiar, child advocate Howard Greitzer, Esq and worse, School Board Member Robin Bartleman have endorsed H. James Curry (lost on the 2016 ballot as Haccord Curry. All of them claim to be advocates and care about the children in our community.

    Why am I sad?

    Below is a link to an interview Mr. Curry gave where he was questioned about the death and abuses of children in the care of his employer the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice(DJJ)

    “the Secretary (of DJJ) being my client, I can say with full honesty that it is never satisfactory when a child suffers abuse or dies in our (DJJ) custody. That is not the goal or aim of the Department (DJJ) but WHEN YOU HAVE A LARGE SYSTEM SOMETIMES THESE THINGS HAPPEN.”

    Robin Bartleman is this the line of thinking you support? Hey we have a big school district, bad things can happen to kids but heck THINGS HAPPEN”? You support Mr. Curry in these beliefs?

    So essentially the position of Mr. Curry in his role as counsel to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice when kids are abused or die is “Sh!t Happens”

    Sham on all of you have endorsed this man.

  2. Kristi MacKenzie says:

    I used to work with these two talented women at the State Attorney’s office. It was interesting to read about their family backgrounds but these women have accomplished much more. For example, a lot of people don’t know that during her sixteen year as a lawyer, Judge Gamm was not just a prosecutor, she practiced civil law, criminal defense, and also was an appellate attorney. She prosecuted child sexual abuse, career criminal and homicide cases at the State Attorney’s Office. Maria Weekes worked as s civil attorney for several years before joining the State…. I can say firsthand that they are both excellent attorneys and I am very proud to have worked with them both.

  3. Ana Gomez-Mallada says:

    There IS no hatred for immigrants, legal or otherwise. There is respect for the Rule of Law, consequently, there is disdain for those who break the law which is exactly what an illegal alien does when he first enters the country illegally.


    There is surely a large group who join you in opposing any immigrants who arrived illegally. I guess by “illegal alien” who “first enters the country illegally” you mean immigrants like Marco Rubio’s grandfather…but that’s another story.

    There is also a large group who opposes any immigrants from certain places in the world, mostly countries where the people are darker than Norwegians. These include folks that believe that the United States should continue to be ruled by whites. They believe that whites should retain their majority by keeping any immigrants who are not white out.

    If they had their way, Yael Gamm would have been kept out because to them Jews are not really white. Anybody with the first name of Maria would be suspect. And forget allowing anyone named Ana Gomez-Mallada into the country.

    And guess who most of these anti-any immigration folks voted for in 2016?

  4. Las Olas Lawyer says:

    Don’t know Weekes. Gamm is terrific.

  5. Ana Gomez-Mallada says:

    Buddy are you engaging in some serious (and badly flawed) stereotyping and generalization? Most people, myself included don’t like being treated like a statistic who belongs in a pigeonhole.

  6. Adriana Alcalde says:

    I know both of these women. Both are former colleagues. Yael is a fine judge and was a great prosecutor. I worked with her in the Sex Crimes Unit and she was also in the Homicide Unit. She always worked tirelessly to achieve justice for these victims. I have also had the benefit of seeing her on the bench and think she is doing a great job. Both are great and amazing women and it is so refreshing to see immigrants achieving so much, especially women. I hope Maria wins her seat, because she will make a great judge and I hope no one challenges Yael because she already is a great judge.

  7. GLS says:

    You can pretty much safely vote for all of the women judicial candidates across the board and be comfortable that you made the right decision at this point – Gamm, Hilal, Padowitz, Weeks, Fahnestock…

  8. Matt Destry says:

    Both Judge Gamm and Maria Weekes have worked for me. Judge Gamm as an intern when I was in private practice; Maria Weekes as a prosecutor in my division. Judge Gamm was diligent and principled even at a young age. Maria Weekes is a talented trial lawyer with a strong moral compass. Both have extensive jury trial experience, a must for a trial judge in a busy Circuit like Broward. Having done the job, I would recommend both without hesitation. Sadly, I cannot say the same for Mr. Curry who, to my knowledge, has little, if any, actual trial experience. Mr. Curry, who ran against me in 2016, often argued that he should be elected because he was black and there were not enough black judges in Broward. Anyone who has it in their mind that they belong on the Bench because of the color of their skin fails not only in my eyes, but in the eyes of Dr. King who expressed it best: “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”


    Matt Destry was a Broward Circuit Court judge from 2007 to 2016.

  9. Sam The Sham says:


    Your anti-Trump vitriol is making you almost unreadable. Your article would be much better if you just left out the first two sentences. They really are irrelevant and, might I add, hateful by you.

    Your understanding of this “Trump Revolution” is extremely flawed and I am afraid you have completely closed your mind to a different way of looking at politics because of the people you surround yourself with and intellectual inertia.

  10. thundernole says:

    I totally agree with Sam. You’re off the rails, Buddy. Real shame.