Sybrina Fulton understands what it means to lose someone to gun violence. In 2012, her 17-year-old son Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a nightwatch officer in Sanford, Florida.
While the nation watched the trial of Zimmerman, who was ultimately acquitted, Fulton started a foundation in her son's honor. Now seven years after his death, she’s shifting her activism into politics by running for the Miami-Dade County Commission. Reducing gun violence is the centerpiece of Fulton’s campaign, but affordable housing and transportation are also important to her.
Fulton faces a tough opponent in her campaign for District 1, which includes Opa Locka and Miami Gardens: she is up against Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III. He has raised over $276,000 since opening his campaign account in January. Fulton, who announced her run on May 20, has raised just over $5,500. Her campaign has argued the money is from grassroots supporters and they’ve accepted no funds from lobbyists.
She spoke with Sundial about her campaign and the road ahead.
WLRN: You [have] been working with the Miami Dade County public works for many years right?
Fulton: Well I worked with public housing so that's one of my platforms as well. I'm interested in affordable housing, homeownership, rentals and things like that. Making sure that those things are affordable for people who live in District 1, and not just District 1, but the district, the county as a whole. So it's very important that people are able to live so they don't continue to move to Broward County and other parts of the state of Florida.
I wanted you to explain to people so they know about the Trayvon Martin Foundation and what you've been doing with the foundation over the years.
So of course a lot of people know about my tragedy that happened with my son Trayvon Martin but I want to turn that pain into purpose and that's what I've done. I make sure that I reached out to other families who are victims of senseless gun violence, and I want to bring change because I understand how those parents feel. Another event that I'm very proud of is the Circle of Mothers. I bring mothers in from all over the United States who are victims of senseless gun violence, who have a child that died through senseless gun violence, and we come together, we grieve, we laugh, we cry, we hope, we do all of those things that women do.
You have a tough challenger in Mayor Gilbert in terms of fundraising. He has outpaced you by a wide margin. How are you going to close that gap when it comes to fundraising?
I'm going to work very hard. I just made the announcement on May 20th, so I only have a few weeks under my belt, but I got a good start. And I'm just going to work very hard and just try to convince people that if you want the same thing you've been receiving, if you want the same government, if you want the same career politicians, then that's what you need to vote on. If you want change and you want to make a difference in your community and see some type of improvement and feel safe in your community then I'm the person for them.