The Dolphin Democrats and Florida LGBTQ Democratic Caucus – Meet the Candidates Forum

The Facebook live presentation hosted by the Dolphin Democrats and Florida LGBTQ Democratic Caucas was held August 4th, 2020 at 6:30 PM. Candidates in attendance, in alphabetical order were, Aisha Gordon, Scott Herman, Grecia Rivas-Smith, Mitch Rosenwald, Matthew Sparks, and Robert Thompson. The Dolphin Democrats will be endorsing three candidates at their August 12th membership meeting.

Meet the Candidates Forum

The forum started off with introductions in a question and answer style format with no live questions. Alfredo Olvera, president of The Dolphin Democrats, was the host. The aim of the forum was to educate the community and garner support for pro-LGTBQ candidates.

Candidates started off with why they should be elected, their backgrounds, what they advocate for and what they have done to prepare to be a commissioner. Answers varied from experience, various boards, city experience, community involvement, and classes. Most were local government academy graduates. Taking a lead during the crisis, affordable housing, county meeting attendance, legislative experience, mayoral experience. Oversee and manage city budget and ordinances. Serving the people were also popular answers.

Here is a snippet of some of the important questions and answers (paraphrased):

Tell us about Oakland Park’s current vision and add two new ideas:

Grecia Rivas-Smith:

  • Emphasis on economic development.
  • CRA expansion to West Oakland Park, small business grants.
  • Incentivizing business and City engagement.

Mitch Rosenwald:

  • Families and businesses wanting to come here.
  • As kids age, school choice becomes important.
  • Holding school board officials accountable.

Matthew Sparks:

  • Fill homes and drive business and economy.
  • Fiscal responsibility.
  • Engage the public.

Robert Thompson:

  • Focus on West Oakland Park.
  • Bring a comprehensive plan to bring businesses to the west side, as a unified City is important.
  • Improve our schools ; are hurting the values of the homes.

Aisha Gordon:

  • More connectivity East to West – blur the marked difference in city boundaries.
  • Businesses more congruent to the area.
  • Public safety, BSO work closely introduces youth government academy.

Scott Herman:

  • Looking forward to western development.
  • Entities working towards a long term with surrounding cities.
  • What we can all do together; make the plan, stick to it and follow through.

Recent events COVID and the importance of having our leaders stand up to county and state officials:

Mitch Rosenwald: The City volunteer corps did an excellent job and had good communication. One thing would be to add good data, make it searchable to the public. Strengthen the response.

Matthew Sparks: Felt the City of Oakland Park did a great job, shutdown the City before the county. Took proactive steps. Hard to fight the feds and the state. One thing he would change is the mask order on for everyone all the time. 

Robert Thompson: The city did a good job. Would institute a mask order sooner as well

COVID-19 and the use of mask was discussed by the candidates.

Aisha Gordon: In addition to mask order, more education and information going out to the residents. Consequences for people that do not follow orders.

Scott Herman: The City did a great job. Agreed that pushing masks earlier and community is outreach is important.

Grecia Rivas-Smith: The City did a wonderful job. She would add that communicating that resources for non-citizens and immigrants were and are available to them. Focus on the local economy and the fact that 70% of local businesses did not receive funding during the crisis. Smith proposed initiating a business preference program in which the City of Oakland Park would purchase within Oakland Park. 

What is the cost of recycling and any ideas on how to improve it?

Matthew Sparks: Education is key. Huge amounts are being spent. Oakland Park pays $92 a ton to what other cities are doing $42 a ton big pile and gets incinerated. Finding people that want to purchase and thinking outside of the box thinking to market second use recycling.

Robert Thompson: Agrees with Mayor Sparks. Also felt the need to reduce what we recycle. One solution would be to reduce the items we recycle i.e., just aluminum and cardboard.

Aisha Gordon: More education for citizens and community outreach.

Scott Herman: Agreed with Mayor Sparks, find things that can be done locally. Gradually increase item by item things that can be recycled. Scale back first, then add items as the city finds solutions for other items that can be recycled.

The recycling issue was brought to the table during the forum.

Grecia Rivas-Smith: Weigh cost vs. climate change in the long run. Education, more frequent community pickups. Seeing recycling around town engages the community to participate. Have a centralized community place to recycle. Bring other countries ideas to our city.

Mitch Rosenwald: Would like to see recycling ramped up in businesses. Audit or pass an ordinance for businesses if possible, while at the same time increasing business outreach. Emphasize reusing and reducing in education. Using yard waste like other cities do, as a possible push for revenue.

What would you do to attract minorities and keep more diversity in Oakland Park?

Robert Thompson: Ensure that people representing the City are equal to the community.

Aisha Gordon: Offer more cultural activities, jobs and affordable housing.

Scott Herman: Racism needs to be looked at in our own communities in order to really promote neighbors working with neighbors.

Grecia Rivas-Smith: Promote more multi-cultural events and make Oakland Park a destination for diverse businesses.

Mitch Rosenwald: Engage citizens in intergroup dialog with an education series that encompasses critical thinking and sharing in a safe environment. Local government sign ups at community events.

Matthew Sparks: Race equality and balance out employment. Negotiate for an income percentage of new housing to be affordable with new developments.

The meeting ended with a short 30 second statement from each candidate stating why they would like to be an Oakland Park City Commissioner and each candidates’ contact information. The full video can be viewed at the link provided below:

Be a part of Oakland Park online!


*LivingInOaklandPark.com is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

About the Author

Rhiannon Samoyedny

Rhiannon Samoyedny

Rhiannon Samoyedny was born and raised in South Florida. She has lived in Oakland Park for over 25 years and purchased her home in Garden Acres in 2012 where she resides with her husband, two teenaged boys, a few rescue cats, and her dog.

Her professional career began as a project manager and estimator for a small Oakland Park construction company and she later went on to earn her degree in Court Reporting, where she later incorporated her own small business RS Reporting, Inc.

She has a passion for gardening and attends many horticulture classes and workshops. She is also an LGA (Local Government Academy) graduate, class of 2019, and an active community volunteer and activist. You can usually find her around town at various Oakland Park meetings and events with her notebook, so be sure to say hello.

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