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Wednesday, May 09, 2018
JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2018: NORTH OF THE BORDER ..... PART ONE
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2018:
NORTH OF THE BORDER ..... PART ONE
"That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet" (Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet, 1597)
But, if you had to vote between Capulet and Montague, whom would you choose? Especially if Capulet appeared first on the ballot.
Known as "First Listing Bias, the issue has been widely discussed and broadly researched by political scientists for decades. Here are just three of the many articles easily found online that discuss the fact that, in a primary election, with no political party involved, the candidate listed first stands to gain anywhere from 5-10% more votes simply because their name is first on the ballot. You can read the articles here and here and here.
So, why, pray tell, is El Capitan waking us up on a Wednesday morning with a poli sci lesson you ask? You want the truth, loyal readers; ..... you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall (A Few Good Men, Columbia Pictures, 1992); sorry, I lost my train of thought there .....
The answer is BROWEIRD.
On Friday, May 4th, the final day to qualify to run for judge, at precisely 9:01 AM, judicial candidate Shari Beth Africk-Olefson filed in Broward Circuit Group 8 against Incumbent Ernest Kollra and challenger Alan Schneider. ***
Shari Beth Olefson has been a member of The Florida Bar for 29 years. On the other hand, Shari Beth Africk-Olefson is not an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Florida. Despite that fact, Shari Beth Africk-Olefson is running for Circuit Court Judge.
Shari Olefson is Board Certified in the field of Real Estate law under the name Shari Beth Olefson. She has an exemplary reputation in the legal community using the name Shari Olefson. She is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator under her name Shari Olefson. She is the author of several books in the fields of real estate law and economics, all using the last name of Olefson. She appears regularly on TV as an expert, (using the name Olefson), including a Fox News segment hosted by Jamie Colby, (yes, that’s former Judge Jonathan Colby’s sister), called "Take Charge". She is a mover and shaker in politics having hosted a "Conversation With Hillary" Clinton at her home for a fundraising event on May 21, 2016. The invitation to the event was from Shari Olefson. By the way, she is not running for Judge for the salary; (she has a Net Worth of just under $11 million dollars).
The point being, Shari Olefson has made her name in the legal community using the last name of Olefson. Why oh why would she then want to sacrifice 29 years of building up the reputation of that Olefson name, by running for Judge using a different name? Isn’t she running for Judge because of that stellar reputation? And nobody doubts that she has a stellar reputation and that she is more than qualified to sit as a judge.
Why then is she using the name Africk-Olefson to run for Judge? Because, she is also married to Pamela Beth Africk. They tied the knot on March 1, 2018.
The Florida Bar lists no licensed attorney by the name of Shari Beth Africk-Olefson. Despite that fact, Shari Olefson has filed all of her campaign documents with the Department of State and she is running as a candidate for Circuit Court Judge under the name Shari Beth Africk-Olefson.
Who gets to decide which name comes first when two love-birds tie the knot? Well, traditionally, of course, it has always been the husband’s last name that replaces that of the wife’s last name. For some, (think Hillary Rodham Clinton, for example), it is the wife who adds her husband’s last name after her maiden name. In Ms. Olefson’s case, she has married another woman; ("Not that there’s anything wrong with that". Seinfeld, The Outing, Episode 57, Season Four, 1993). And she has chosen to hyphenate her name, using her spouse’s name first. So, we ask again, who gets to decide which name comes first?
More importantly, shouldn’t we be asking whether Ms. Olefson is using the Africk-Olefson name primarily for the purpose of being placed first on the ballot? We wouldn’t even be asking the question if not for the fact that Ms. Olefson lists her name with The Florida Bar as Olefson while she wants the voters to elect attorney Africk-Olefson to the position of a Circuit Court Judge.
*** At 11:15 AM, 45 minutes before the end of qualifying, candidate Africk-Olefson switched races and filed in Group 36 against challenger Kristen Padowitz.
*** At the time Africk-Olefson switched races and joined Group 36, there were two other candidates in that race: Karen Berger and Kristen Padowitz. By using the last name Africk-Olefson, the candidate jumped to the front of the alphabetical list, ahead of Ms. Berger. This moved Berger down to the second slot on the ballot.
***So, at 11:57 AM, three minutes before the close of qualifying, candidate Karen Berger, made a savvy move herself. She jumped from Group 36 to Group 43, filing against candidate Dan Casey. Casey had announced in Group 43 last July, and had been unopposed for nine months. He was three minutes away from getting elected without opposition when Berger filed against him. By doing so, Berger, who had been first on the ballot in Group 36, before Africk-Olefson jumped into that Group, became first on the ballot once again, this time ahead of Casey.
The Captain agrees that a candidate should make their filing decision with winning in mind. Nobody runs to lose, and if you can improve your chances of winning, by running in a race where there are two candidates instead of three, or by running in a race where your name appears on the ballot before your opponent, well then, go for it. But that doesn’t mean you get to use a name that you have never used before, and one that you don’t even use to maintain your license with The Florida Bar, just to run for Judge; (which carries with it the requirement that you be a lawyer in good standing before you can even run for judge).
ADDENDUM: We emailed Ms. Africk Olefson and asked her why she chose to add the hyphen between the two names? She did respond with the following: "When I married, Africk-Olefson became my legal name. Which is why it’s the name on my judicial filing papers. It didn’t occur to not combine and hyphenate surnames when I married. But I suppose there are cultural reasons for doing that. I do recall feeling proud to take on the Africk family name with my own, particularly because my father in law has been an important mentor and role model. "
So, readers, what say you? Have at it.
COMING TOMORROW: North of the Border, Part Two, and What is the law in Florida concerning what name a candidate is permitted to use on the ballot?
CAPTAIN OUT .......