Sun-Sentinel – May 11, 2016

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Gordon Weekes might run for public defender after “Help Me Howard” Finkelstein retires

By Brittany Wallman

It may be a little early to discuss the 2020 election for public defender, but at least one person already is considering running: chief assistant public defender Gordon Weekes.

No, he isn’t thinking of challenging his boss, longtime Public Defender Howard Finkelstein. But the popular “Help Me Howard” Finkelstein told the Sun Sentinel recently that this might be his last term. He was re-elected without opposition, when qualifying ended.

And Finkelstein said Weekes would be the right man to replace him. Here’s what my colleague Andy Reid reported on May 6:

During the next four years, Finkelstein said he plans to continue to “bang the drum” against racial disparity in who gets arrested in Broward County and in the sentences they receive.

“I love representing poor people. I love representing the Constitution,” Finkelstein said.

While Finkelstein says he has work yet to do, he is already pushing for Gordon Weekes, a chief assistant in the Broward Public Defender’s Office, to eventually become his successor.

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Finkelstein, 62, said Broward’s next public defender should be younger and a minority, to better reflect the county’s changing demographics. Weekes is a logical choice, according to Finkelstein.

“Broward is changing,” Finkelstein said. “The person who succeeds me should reflect that community.”

Weekes is African-American, 45 and a Democrat.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Weekes said he appreciates Finkelstein’s support and has thought about it.

“There are a lot of initiatives I’d like to make sure are secure in the community,” he said. “There are things in the future I’d also like to address.”

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In an email later, Weekes summarized his thoughts at this point: “I have given the prospect of heading up the Public Defender’s Office much consideration and would be honored to serve if given the opportunity by the voters of Broward County.”

Sun-Sentinel

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