2013 – The Year in Review:
As your Broward County Commissioner, I was honored to present and pass the V.E.T. Pass, a six month pilot program to provide veterans in need with a free Broward County Transit Bus Pass. This is a project that I have been working on for nearly my entire time in office and I was pleased to pass this meaningful policy that gives back to those who gave so much to our country.
We continue to recognize those who have served our country through the time honored tradition of Fleet Week with Broward Navy Days. While there was no fleet to be revered, this year there were plenty of community events to attend. The Consul General of France presented the Legion of Honor Award to 11 United States Veterans of World War II who fought at Normandy. In addition to Fleet Week, we were honored to witness nearly 150 Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen enlist into our nation’s armed forces at an event sponsored by “Our Community Salutes”. Throughout the year we've recognized many contributions not only to our community, but to our country. This year we honored Pearl Harbor Survivors Edward Hammond and Abe Stein at the 72nd remembrance anniversary. Locally, we presented Lighthouse Point resident Vincent LaSorsa with a Key to the County for his continued work with the Wounded Warrior Project.
I was privileged to host a County Resource Fair at Westside Park in Deerfield Beach with representatives from a variety of county agencies and community resource organizations that provide residents with a vast array of services such as job assistance, health services, housing and assistance for veterans, children and the elderly. In a personal effort to make a positive impact in our community, I was delighted to team up with local leaders in Deerfield Beach to hand out meals to those in need during the holiday season.
It is important to invest in the future and revitalization of our community. Through Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRA) and local partnerships, the investment in the overall appearance and use of declining neighborhoods has drastically transformed the economy in many communities by creating jobs and increasing consumer traffic. The City of Pompano Beach took the lead with their East CRA projects along Atlantic Boulevard from US1 to the Atlantic Ocean. The beach projects are still underway, but the boulevard is home to a new look and many new businesses.
The Oakland Park CRA created the Culinary Arts District which has started to come together with the grand opening of the Funky Buddha Brewery and the Urban Farm Park. From the brewery, to future shopping, art and restaurant venues, to kitchen supplies and fresh produce, the Culinary Arts District is becoming a destination.
Another example of a successful revitalization project was the investment from the Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea to reface the boulevard from the bridge to the beach, giving a breath of fresh air into its struggling plazas and creating an expanded shopping and dining destination. These, and many more community redevelopment projects around the county, just give tangible reference to the successful economy blooming in Broward County.
Earlier this year we proclaimed the month of May as “Take 5 to Stay Alive” – Don’t Text and Drive Month in Broward County. With the Governor signing the bill into law, it further enforces the notion that texting and sending emails while behind the wheel is a deadly practice that is responsible for numerous deaths each day nationwide.
Working in Tallahassee, with the help of local support, we urged the State Legislature to approve a $14.7 million investment for Port Everglades in a parallel effort to make Florida competitive worldwide and to also create more Florida jobs. The Port Everglades expansion is expected to create over 7,000 direct jobs and more than 135,000 jobs around the state of Florida.
We had great success with the emergency beach re-nourishment after Super Storm Sandy on Fort Lauderdale Beach and Broward County has been able to compile some best practices to use in our overall beach restoration efforts. Through the completion of the emergency repairs, we now move into the long-term portions of the project-with the redesign of A1A. This project will be coordinated with the State of Florida, Broward County and the City of Fort Lauderdale.
We are pleased that through working with city officials, we were able to keep the Pompano Beach Branch Library located on the barrier island. It is vital to have free and easy access to a wide range of library resources and experiences to keep our community engaged and learning. Residents can now access online databases, eBooks, and movies.
This past year, I was privileged to be accepted to the 32nd Class of Leadership Florida on a full scholarship from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Program. Good governance begins with good leadership. As an elected official who is honored to have the public’s trust, I am always working to learn more, to do more in order to best serve the people I represent.
I look forward to a successful 2014 and making Broward County the best place to live, work and raise a family!