A Platform for Change in Pompano: The Blueprint

District 4 has the greatest potential for improvement in our city. It has growing business interests and a growing population. In order for us to survive there needs to be maximum effort on the city’s part to include our District in all decisions and all efforts to grow Pompano Beach. We have to have equity and fair representation when it comes to spending our tax dollars. And, we deserve a commissioner who listens to our needs, acts accordingly and does not serve their own selfish interests. Selfless, dedicated leadership is what we need to get us through tough economic times.

Pompano Beach’s District 4 has long been left out of the economic development landscape largely because of the city’s lack of a concerted effort to address equity in local economics across the entire city. The city’s lack of a clear and defined economic development plan has caused District 4 and northwest Pompano to consistently get the short end of the stick. We have been neglected, left out and mistreated.

My vision is not just one of inclusion but also equity. Our city’s focus on job creation and business growth must include District 4. Otherwise, we run the risk of continuously sabotaging our ability to grow as a city.

My vision for District 4 and Pompano Beach includes a local economics policy that creates jobs and grows our local workforce, and supports and promotes our local businesses. The vision includes constantly improving the safety of our neighborhoods while providing better services and activities for our senior/elderly population. It includes addressing the needs of our youth through targeted programming in education, athletics and the arts. And, it provides assistance for our veterans and works toward eradicating poverty and homelessness.

It’s a vision that requires us to do more, to be more creative and to be better stewards of our city and its resources. It’s a vision that requires us to work together to move District 4 and all of Pompano Beach forward.

If we do not take measures now to safeguard and sustain our families, District 4 will easily become the slum of Pompano Beach. Ensuring that Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars are distributed appropriately and given to non-profit and service organizations located in Pompano Beach should be a priority.

Our local organizations are born from within our neighborhoods. They are run by people who live here. They understand our needs and they already have the trust of the community to provide for our needs.

A “Pompano 1st” mentality ensures we keep our community service funds local where it’s needed. Doing so will ensure we have the resources to provide adequate services for our seniors and our youth.

District 4 has a large share of senior/elderly people who have given their time and their lives to improving Pompano Beach, our county, our state and our country. How we treat them is indicative of how we want to be treated. It is time that we had a well thought out plan to address the needs of our senior community to ensure they live out their lives comfortably and actively.

Together, we will grow our city’s commitment toward our grandparents by expanding the funding for senior services. We will provide improved and adequate programming and facilities at our community centers. And, we will engage our seniors in current and new issues to ensure they are satisfied with what we offer them.

Additionally, it’s time we invested in building our own dedicated senior activity center in District 4 – a place that doesn’t seclude our seniors but a place they can call their own.

Today’s youth do not respond to yesterday’s programming. It’s time we become more creative with our youth service offerings. We must include technological advancements that aide in engaging our youth through education, athletics and cultural arts.

I will work to increase our focus on innovative after-school and summer youth programs and activities that involve tutoring and increased learning opportunities with improved technological capabilities at our community centers.

Homelessness and poverty is an epidemic that we all need to play our part in helping to end. Getting all of our churches on board in a collaborative effort will be a goal of mine as seek to put an end to homelessness and poverty. We have to do our part to provide the very basic needs of food and shelter for our people. We have to do better at securing additional resources and partnering with other local agencies to ensure that no one is left on the streets to die hungry and alone.

In an extra effort, we can also work to ensure our veterans are given the much needed and worthy attention they deserve. No veteran of our US Armed Forces should be homeless in District 4 or Pompano Beach.

There are many facets of economic development. Some of the more important elements for a community where there is considerable blight are job creation, growing and supporting local businesses, education and workforce training, and community-focused cultural arts (in no particular order).

We currently have the capacity to create jobs for our residents by encouraging companies who are awarded bids for city and CRA projects to hire locally. So much of our taxpayer dollars leave our city and go into the hands of companies not based in Pompano. We can change that. We can recycle our taxpayer dollars 3 to 4 times by giving our local companies priority in our procurement process. Our local companies can then have the fortitude to hire local residents. And, if they’re not qualified, we can create the training and apprenticeship opportunities to help them.

Our local workforce is too often told they’re not qualified, even on our own city projects. It’s time we put an end to that by leveraging our bid selection process and teaming up with companies who are willing to train our people.

I will work toward establishing a plan and a fund for providing incentives to business who want to move to Pompano and create jobs for our residents.

We will work toward creating an environment of mutual edification and community benefit with developers who want to do business in Pompano Beach and in the NW CRA.

Supporting our local businesses is just good sense. In fact, if we fail to support our local businesses, we will fail to promote our own local economy.

We can do more to help our local businesses to grow and sustain themselves. Where appropriate, we can offer tax rebate incentives. We can include local industries in our marketing efforts. We can create “buy local” programs to increase community support and patronage of our local businesses.

We can create more opportunities for small business owners to have affordable office space and co-working environments, including business incubators that provide strategic assistance and educational platforms for growth.

We can create opportunities and provide better resources for entrepreneurs who want to start, locate or relocate their businesses in Pompano.

We have too often heard that our residents and local businesses lack the skills to bid on or receive jobs from our city’s and/or our CRA’s redevelopment projects. We can no longer accept that as an excuse. We must provide opportunity for our residents and local small businesses to receive training through apprenticeship programs and other means.

Through education, workforce training and preparation, our residents can become business-savvy and technologically skilled. This will not only ensure we can do the work but it will also help us to attract larger corporations to relocate their businesses to Pompano because we will have the skilled workforce to accommodate them.

We will work toward making our streets safe by building a better partnership with the Broward Sheriff’s Office. In areas where we have extra security concerns or heightened crime, we will partner with BSO and other security and public safety agencies to provide solutions, including off duty police officers who live in District 4 or Pompano.

In areas where crime may not be on the rise but is still prevalent, we will ensure attention is given promptly and adequately.

Our city holds Broward Sheriff’s Office’s largest contract, over $36 million. We should be a priority.

From a community-centered standpoint, our NW CRA is plagued with issues. It’s budget is over $5.8 million per year. Yet, we are still behind the curve on redeveloping the NW area.

Have we made good strides? Yes, we have. But, we can do more to increase local and minority participation. We can do more to invest directly in the heart of the NW area – along MLK Blvd. We can do more to be inclusive and community-focused. We can do more for the people in District 5’s Collier City neighborhood (the place where I grew up).

It’s time out for investing in projects that won’t bring us any additional TIF revenue. We need rapid responsible redevelopment that puts NW CRA owned property back on the tax rolls and provides a greater economical benefit to the people in the NW community instead of pricing us out of our neighborhoods.

District 4 has a wealth of faith-based and non-profit organizations that provide varying community services to our city. They may not have all of the resources to handle all of our issues but they have the manpower and the time. It’s time we tapped that resource to create a better synergy for tackling our District’s and our city’s toughest issues.

I will work toward creating partnerships with our local churches, faith-based and non-profit organizations to supplement the needs of our residents, including youth programs, summer work programs, and other initiatives.

It is unacceptable for our senior citizens and younger families to be priced out of the neighborhoods they grew up in because of high housing costs. We must give our young adults an opportunity to find newer, up-to-date housing options in their hometown. We can protect our current stock of affordable housing, offer new developments and encourage a mix of market rate housing options through the use of tax credit financing that will create beautiful facilities with newer and ample amenities.

The people of District 4 value cultural and economic diversity and affordable housing gives us the opportunity grow our tax base with beautiful workforce housing occupied by police officers, nurses, artists and more.

Residents miss out on events and important changes happening in our city because we do not reach out to the public using mediums of communication that everyone uses and can understand.

The key to open government is a working communication protocol. I will seek to have our communications office improve its outreach efforts to District 4. Our community can be better informed of decisions and policies that affect their well-being by establishing communications outlets from the Commission that outline new ordinances and resolutions to ensure our residents are informed and we have better participation and buy-in from our community.

The public’s opinion of our government hinges on the level of transparency of our elected officials, government staff and hired consultants. An open book and open door policy is essential toward establishing trust. With it comes a system of accountability and assurance that our tax dollars will ultimately benefit the needs of our residents. It also ensures that our dollars are spent here in the community and that government initiatives are people centered.

Vote Tuesday, November 4th! Elect Whitney Rawls for District 4 Commissioner of Pompano Beach.
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