A well-known group of Miami Lakes residents hosted a fundraiser on September 25 to support Gwen Graham’s campaign for U.S. Congress representing Florida’s Congressional District 2 (FL-02).
The candidate is the daughter of Senator Bob Graham and his wife, Adele, who were special guests for the event held at Shula’s Steak House on Miami Lakes Drive. The host committee included Robert and Kendall Elias, Arnold and Perla Hantman, Luis and Beth Martinez, Dominic and Andrea Rechichi, Dave and Leslie Shula, and Stu and Carol Wyllie.
A Democrat nominee, Gwen Graham is opposing incumbent Republican Steve Southerland who is considered one of he most vulnerable incumbents in 2014. FL-02 is a widely diverse district spanning 14 counties in northwest Florida, including Panama City and Tallahassee. The district is home to several colleges and universities, including Florida State, Florida A&M, and Gulf Coast State College.
Gwen Graham’s path to northwest Florida is a unique one. She was born in 1963 in Miami Lakes and began spending part of each year in Tallahassee when her father, Bob Graham, was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1966.
When her father was elected Governor in 1978, the family moved to Tallahassee year-round and she graduated from Leon High School in 1980. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, she earned a law degree from American University in 1988 and went on to work in the private sector on energy and environmental issues.
With the birth of her first child, Sarah, in 1990. Gwen Graham began to focus on her family and spent 13 years as a stay-at-home mom. Her family grew with the addition of two sons, Graham and Mark Ernest. She is married to Stephen D. Hurm, a sworn-in law enforcement officer and general counsel for Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
With all three children attending public schools, Gwen Graham returned to practicing law when Leon County School Superintendent Jackie Pons asked her to join his administration as Director of Employee Relations, later promoting her to Division Director for Professional Standards and chief of Labor and Employee Relations.
Working to find solutions for disputes between employees and management, she became known as a real problem solver and developed a strong relationship with both sides, earning a reputation as a cool-headed negotiator, able to build consensus out of conflict.
“Growing up, my dad told me citizenship requires us to do more than complain about our problems, we have to work together to fix them,” she said. “We need more people in both parties committed to working together and finding real solutions.”