Dave Kerner: Florida’s Biggest Traitor | Opinion

Dave Kerner. Photo via connect.ufalumni.ufl.edu.

The State was rocked when the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) announced that they will no longer be allowing gender changes on driver’s licenses. This caused much fear, doubt, and anger among many in the LGBTQ community. Dave Kerner, former Palm Beach County mayor, is to blame.

Kerner was mayor of PBC during the COVID-19 crisis, often going head-to-head with Gov. Ron DeSantis over the closing of restaurants, mask mandates, vaccination mandates, and other COVID-19-related issues. The conflict was so pronounced that it seemed that the governor was actively withholding tests and vaccines from PBC.

That is why it was surprising when Kerner endorsed DeSantis for his gubernatorial race against Charlie Crist. More surprising, however, was when DeSantis appointed Kerner to head the DHSMV. In one motion, the Democratic Party and Kerner’s constituents understood exactly what happened.

Kerner turned his back on his values and ideals in order to get a high-ranking position in state government.

The current change at the DHSMV, which is a policy change under the purview of the director, is a direct example of the harm that Kerner has caused.

“This reckless policy was implemented with zero public notice or democratic processes for input in a ploy to create chaos and fear among transgender Floridians and their families,” said Julie Seaver, Director of Compass Community Center in Lake Worth Beach. “Florida is a testing ground for extremism, and the attacks we see in Florida are part of a nationwide assault on the privacy, freedom, and dignity of transgender people.”

Even when Kerner was proudly and openly a Democrat, his reputation was not great. After being endorsed by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council many years ago, Kerner was never able to get an endorsement again. Many of the people he worked with made reference to his character, with the nicest phrase heard about him being that, “He is a dick.” Kerner was known to try to use his position to target political adversaries and groups that did not support or agree with him, filing frivolous complaints and wasting taxpayer dollars on investigations that went nowhere.

Kerner’s appointment to the state position also changed the face of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. In Florida, when a county commission seat is vacated before the term is over, the governor may appoint an interim commissioner until the next election. Kerner’s appointment allowed DeSantis to appoint one of his own cronies to the board of county commissioners, eventually leading to a shift in the political leaning of the board.

Whether planned or not, Kerner was a key tool in the weakening of the democratic process in PBC. Despite the heated conflicts they had publicly, they at some point came to an understanding and agreement. In one move, he turned the county over to DeSantis Republicans, validated DeSantis policies, and now has directly targeted transgender people in the state.

Previous to this mandate, changing a gender marker on a driver’s license was a simple process. Now, however, attempting to change the gender marker can be met with criminal charges. If Kerner was ever an ally to the LGBTQ community, he would step down in protest of this new policy. Instead, he has been quiet about it, despite its obvious harm.

Kerner’s personal ambition has chosen greed over virtue, and Floridians are paying the price. Movements have been stirred up around the state, with angry, scared and confused people coming together to address this direct assault on our trans brothers and sisters. Politicians like Kerner need to understand that people’s lives are not tools to be used in their culture wars in order to appease the people with more power.


Driving While Trans: DeSantis Admin Targets Driver’s Licenses


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