Luther Campbell wants to be Miami-Dade County's new mayor. The Miami New Times columnist and former 2 Live Crew frontman is looking ahead to the March 15 vote on recalling present Mayor Carlos Alvarez. In an extended column this week, he reveals his game plan for a campaign that should be a hell of a lot more fun than most. He lays out his motivation for running, why he thinks he can win, and his platform, which includes a tax on exotic dancers to help create childcare programs for single moms. So without further ado, here's Luke!
New Times: Why are you running? Are you crazy?
Luther Campbell: I am mad frustrated. I have always been involved in politics, going back to my battles in the city of Miami Beach, dealing with the city commissioners and the mayor. I ran my own nightclub, and I believed African-Americans were treated badly during Memorial Day weekend.
I've thought about running for public office before, but someone would always end up talking me out of it, saying, "We have this good person here, he will do good for the community," so I always backed out. But I'd end up frustrated because they didn't do anything. I'd give them ideas and they would just tell me what they wanted to hear.
I get in my car, ride around Liberty City, and everything looks the same as when I was in the neighborhood growing up. I see the same crimes in the same areas. Officers and residents are still getting killed in the community I grew up in. I go to a city like Atlanta that has sensible affordable housing, and no one is being murdered. I go to Miami International Airport and see the same construction that has been going on for like a hundred years. All of that frustrates the hell out of me. Why aren't we getting it right in Miami-Dade? Why is our government only serving one set of people? That's what is pushing me to run.
What would be your platform?
LC: The current administration of Mayor Carlos Alvarez hasn't created any new jobs, yet we keep these government employees who have been around for decades and aren't doing anything. Then there's affordable housing. People in the James E. Scott projects have been kicked out of their homes and forced to move to other parts of the county. The same has happened in other parts of the county. Places have been knocked down and never rebuilt. Folks were displaced because of politics and scandal. Instead of this massive incompetence, we need to build gated communities with security-guard entrances in the inner city. Then people would feel just as safe as those wealthier folks who live in Fisher Island and the Kendall suburbs.
When I take Mr. Alvarez's job, I'll review the county budget with a fine-toothed comb. When I ran my record company, every year we would first go over what was making revenue for us and beef that side up. Then we would cut the areas where we were not generating revenue. The first place we looked was payroll. I'll do the same with the county budget.
I'd also address the situation at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Miami-Dade has the highest number of uninsured people in the state. We can't allow the public hospital to crash, or we are going to have sick people in the streets. My last resort will be raising taxes. We have a long laundry list of things that need to change with the county. We need someone with vision. I believe I have the vision.
What's with your plan to tax exotic dancers?
LC: Even though all my stripper friends are gonna be mad at me, I think we can stimulate the economy with a tax on strippers. They make all this money and don't pay taxes. I'd take that cash and put it into a fund where it supports youth athletics for girls like cheerleading or softball. Or it can go to help pay for existing little girls programs that are struggling to get government assistance.
What type of campaign will you be running?
LC: Grassroots! I'll go after those voters who have registered but haven't been excited enough to vote. Barack Obama's crew in 2008. I am going after everybody from 18 to 50 years old. It will be just like music marketing. Fun. We will be having campaign parties before the election to get people motivated, get them behind something historical.
How do you feel about the old saying that a black person can't be elected mayor in Miami-Dade County because Cuban Americans only vote Cuban?
LC: Not true. We vote for people who are homegrown, whom we love, trust, and respect. The last black who ran for county mayor was Arthur Teele. He was from Washington, D.C. Even though he was a very intelligent guy, he really didn't have a long-established relationship with the community. And no African-American politician has had the bond with the Hispanic/Latino community like I do.
When I discovered Pitbull, everyone told me there was no way a Cuban rapper could make it. My response was, if I can discover Trick Daddy and put all my effort into promoting and marketing the Miami he represented, why can't I do the same for Pitbull? Cubans and other Latinos in Miami-Dade get up and dance to my music just like African-Americans.
Or maybe they attended the University of Miami law school, and they read about my cases or know me because of my love for Hurricanes football. They know I represent Dade to the fullest. Does that mean will they vote for me? No. I have to go out there and tell how I can make their lives better. I don't expect anyone to just vote for me because I am Uncle Luke. They are going to vote for me because Uncle Luke wants to do something about the way this county is headed.
So far, candidate Campbell doesn't have an official song, but Chris Paul, a producer of the Tom Joyner Show on Hot 105 (WHQT 105), wrote this rap:
Attention all you pimps and players, I'd like to introduce Miami's savior, our candidate with major flavor. Uncle Luke is running mayor.
Y'all remember Uncle Luke from his days with 2 Live Crew. He made a star of that fat Chinese dude. Imagine what he can do for you. Luke wants to do his public duty, representing voters with big ole booties.
Luke for Mayor! Luke, Luke for Mayor!
If elected he aims to please....He'll make jobs for women with double Ds.
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And brothers in the strip club who do not tip will get arrested and get their ass-whipped and ladies will get free bus trips if they show their titties.
You can be Republican or Democrat, it doesn't matter as long as your ass is fat.
Luke for Mayor! Luke, Luke for Mayor!