This month, Delray Commissioner Ryan Boylston sat down with Pompano Beach City Commissioner for District 3 Rex Hardin.
Rex has been a Pompano Beach resident since 1963. He graduated from Pompano Beach High School as a “Golden Tornado” and has owned a local family printing company since 1984. Rex has been active in the community as President of the Rotary club, President of the group that moved the Sample-McDougald House from North Dixie Highway to N.E. 10th Street, and now as City Commissioner. He is married to his wife Amy, and is raising twin 12 year old boys, Bryce and Kolby.
Boylston asked Hardin about his public service in his city.
What drove you to want to serve as City Commissioner in Pompano Beach?
I wanted to attract business to Pompano Beach and help improve the appearance of our City. It was a challenging economic time and there were numerous vacant storefronts and boarded up buildings that our current Commissioner seemed willing to accept and felt there was little that could be done to change things. I knocked on every door in the District and was rewarded on election day and have worked since then to improve our City.
What has been your most exciting accomplishment as a City Commissioner?
While it may not sound very exciting to some people, early in my tenure as City Commissioner I was able to make a tremendous impact on every existing and future resident of our City. I consider that to be a huge accomplishment.
Prior to my election, Pompano Beach did not add Fluoride to our City water system. Once I was elected I was able to change that. The result is that every resident serviced by our water system will have better dental health, less cavities, less pulled teeth resulting in better diet, and better quality of life, throughout their life! That is an exciting accomplishment that I am very proud of.
What makes your city special?
Pompano Beach really has a small town atmosphere within the tri-county area. Even though we have a population of over 100,000 people we still have areas where there are families that date back to when our City was first incorporated over 100 years ago.
While we are undergoing rapid redevelopment right now, our entire community is working together to ensure that we keep our hometown feel where residents really do know each other and we maintain our ties to the past.
All that coupled with our world-class beach, ocean diving opportunities, history, and now cultural amenities really does make Pompano Beach a special place.
We really have watched what other communities have done and taken the best ideas to make our City “Florida’s Warmest Welcome”!
What do you see your future role in the City being?
I am currently running to be the next Mayor for Pompano Beach. Our current Mayor, Lamar Fisher, has been the Mayor since 2007 but has decided to run for the County Commission. I am looking forward to becoming our next Mayor and continuing to move our City forward towards greater prosperity for all of our residents and businesses. The next few years promise to be transformational for our City and I hope to make sure we continue on the path of progress while maintaining our hometown feel.
Lastly – If you could duplicate a Delray Beach asset for your city – what would it be?
The downtown boulevard that Delray has is priceless. To have a pedestrian friendly area like that is the focal point of your City. A downtown makes a town. Hopefully Pompano Beach will soon have a similar area that we can point to as our “new” downtown. That coupled with our beach area and business districts will really set our city apart from others in the South Florida area.
Here is what Commissioner Harden has to say about his city:
Why should I choose to live, work and play in Pompano Beach?
Let’s start with the resident aspects. We have one of the lowest tax rates in Broward County, and also one of the lowest overall cost of living in the County when you look at taxes, garbage, water and sewer fees, etc. We have a tremendous park system with open areas throughout our City capped off by our 4.5 mile jogging/walking/cycling track around the Pompano Beach Airpark. Working with our partners at the Broward County School Board we have gotten all of our public schools to a “C” grade or better.
As far as locating your business in Pompano Beach we have taken concrete steps to make it easy to do business in our City. From an Economic Development Coordinator to our Building Department E-Plan system to our participation in business attraction incentive programs we actively seek out quality businesses to join with us in growing our local economy. Additionally we have a robust program to build local capacity in our City of businesses that can participate in all aspects of business expansion.
Playing in Pompano Beach is easy! From our world-class beach, to our cultural facilities, to our eco-tourism opportunities, to our Greg Norman Signature golf course, to the local casino/harness track, to our overall park amenities, and numerous renowned restaurants, there is no shortage of places to play in Pompano Beach!
How important is the CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) to the future of Pompano Beach?
In a word, vital! Our 2 CRA districts have allowed us to focus resources that otherwise would have been used for the day to day operations of the City. Without that focus we would not have been able to transform our beach area from the blighted, sleepy area that it was into the nationally acclaimed destination that it is today. In our Northwest CRA we have invested in the infrastructure and property acquisition necessary so that we are poised to see upwards of a billion dollars of private investment in that area.
Do you feel the CRA’s initiatives have sparked private investment/development? Increase in jobs?
Without question, yes. In our East CRA area we have a new restaurant that has been constructed and is operating, with another slated to open early next year. Additionally other new restaurants and shops have already been signed by our pier area developer partner and will be constructed and open within the next 2 to 3 years.
In our NW CRA area we have seen the first new buildings constructed in 20 years that now house businesses from the local area. Additionally a new affordable housing project recently opened to provide housing opportunities for our local residents. So yes, private investment, jobs, and additional tax base have all been delivered by our CRA!