Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long you have lived in Delray, where you live, your profession, your family.
I grew up in Delray Beach and have a deep-rooted love for our city. I received my bachelor’s degree in Education from Bethune-Cookman University and my Master’s from Nova Southeastern University, and after college I returned to Delray Beach to work as a teacher at S.D. Spady Elementary. I then ventured into the private sector where I was the only black and only female manager at a large bank. After 13 very successful years in the Savings & Loans industry focused on helping people of modest means, I decided to return to my first love, education, and have since served as a public school teacher for the last 32 years here in Palm Beach County. I am a widow, a mother of three, grandmother of three, and a dog mom to Diesel and Bermuda.
Why are you running for office and what experiences qualify you to be a commissioner?
I decided to run for city commissioner to continue my public service, as I have grown tired of witnessing the concerns of the residents being ignored. I believe in working in collaboration with residents to improve accountability and transparency, closing disparity gaps, increasing inclusive community engagement, and building a stronger Delray Beach that is well-managed, corruption-free, and responsive to the needs of the people living here.
I have decades of successful experience in both the public and the private sectors here in Delray, and years of local service on the Education Board of the City of Delray, as Chair of the School Advisory Council for Village Academy, and Treasurer for my local chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. As a teacher, a mother of three and grandmother of three, I know that it takes a village to raise a child, and I believe that the same philosophy should be applied to government; it will take great leadership and all of us to govern our community effectively. I am a first-time candidate, and not a career politician, as we need someone who will fight for our local community’s interests, instead of leaders who only use the office to further their own personal political ambitions.
What are the top three issues you want to address in the city if elected or re-elected?
Accountable governance, supporting small, local businesses and entrepreneurship, and promoting equitable growth.
Delray is known as the “Village by the Sea” but it is also a popular city. How would you balance “keeping the charm” with the need to grow the tax base as the city attracts more people?
Coordinated efforts over several years between residents and stakeholders to create a plan and policy to meet the needs of all residents and help maintain this balance was made, and thousands of dollars were spent to develop it with this in mind, but that plan has since been ignored.
Smart and equitable development is vital to the long-term health of our community. My goal is to prioritize development without displacement, invest in and implement an affordable and dignified housing policy with new developments, and centralize affordable housing closer to the workforce. Supporting a constructive relationship with small businesses within Delray Beach has also led to the growth of the local economy and Delray’s recognition as a top city for small business entrepreneurship, and I intend to continue to support and expand these efforts. Small business owners are stewards who invest in our neighborhoods and our neighbors, and I will be a voice and a champion for small, local business owners, implementing policies to reduce permitting and licensing approval times, simplify zoning, and improve operational and business practices, creating a pathway for local businesses to bid on city contracts.
City Hall has had a lot of turnover with city staff. Why do you think that is and how would you work to re-establish stability?
In my experience in both the public and private sector, micro management, a lack of respect and a lack of trust contributes to high turnover. You must empower people to do their jobs and support them as needed. When hostility, intimidation, and ‘power plays’ are a part of the culture, it is terrible for morale. I would respect the expertise of the new city manager, allow them to do the job without interference, and leave lines of communications open.
How do you approach the relationship you will have as a commissioner with city staff?
To be objective and remain focused on issues and not personalities. Throughout my career in the public and private sector I have a reputation for being respectful and treating others the way I would want to be treated. I believe all of the priorities I have mentioned here will require civility between the City Commissioners, and accountable governance and transparency with residents.