Florida Dems launch new program to ‘Take Back Local’

'We are fielding candidates and contesting races everywhere and it starts at the local level.'

The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) is launching a Take Back Local program aimed at helping local candidates secure election in competitive races across the state.

The program is targeting candidates that align with the party who are running in nonpartisan local elections. It’s beginning with seven targeted candidates in Pembroke Pines, Winter Garden, Boca Raton, Clearwater and Ocoee.

All of the supported candidates are on the ballot March 19.

“These races are nonpartisan, so it’s important for voters to know which candidates will fight for our values. And it’s our job as a party to provide the infrastructure Democratic candidates need to win — that’s how we will take back Florida. We are fielding candidates and contesting races everywhere and it starts at the local level,” said FDP Chair Nikki Fried.

Added FDP Director of Candidates and Campaigns Danielle Hawk: “We have developed a rigorous review process to identify candidates and campaigns running in competitive local races across the state. We are prioritizing local races first because this is where we can make the most impact.”

The candidates include:

Maria Rodriguez for Pembroke Pines City Commission in District 3: Rodriguez was born in Columbia and has lived in Pembroke Pines for 20 years. She has launched two businesses and is a community organizer, including outreach for the Broward County Commission, District 7. She is the only Hispanic candidate in the race, in a district where 45% of the residents are Hispanic.

Karen McNeil for Winter Garden City Commission in District 3: McNeil is a nonprofit leader and business owner in the district. She serves as president of Fresh Start Entrepreneurs, Inc., a nonprofit that provides mentorship for new business owners to foster a strong local economy. She owns McNeil’s Adult Daycare. Her campaign focuses are on public safety and economic development.

Andy Thomson for Boca Raton City Council, Seat D: Thomson was elected to the City Council in a Special Election in 2018 and was re-elected unopposed in 2020. Through his service, Thomson has served as vice chair of the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency and served on the Palm Beach Transportation Agency’s governing board. Prior to his election, Thomson served on the city’s Education Task Force and Community Advisory Panel. Thomson is a practicing lawyer at the Baritz & Colman LLP firm and works as an adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University where he teaches local and state government.

Yvette Drucker for Boca Raton City Council, Seat A: Drucker is a first-generation Cuban-American seeking re-election. She is known for her advocacy for children and families. She serves on the Florence Fuller Child Development Centers board; is the Boca Raton Children’s Museum board vice president and treasurer; is a mentor for the Viner Scholarship Foundation; serves as a member of the Boca Raton Museum of Art and Hillel International host committees; and is a board member for National Jewish health a GO Pink Ambassador.

Mark Bunker for re-election to Clearwater City Council, Seat 2: Bunker was elected to his seat in 2020 and was selected by his colleagues to serve as Vice Chair in 2023 — the city’s Mayor serves as Chair. Bunker is a retired Emmy award-winning journalist, who worked as a reporter and broadcaster in the Midwest before moving to Clearwater in 1999. Bunker is known as a staunch critic of Scientology, which is based in Clearwater.

Javante Scott for Clearwater City Council, Seat 3: Scott is a current employee for the city of Clearwater, serving as a neighborhoods coordinator in the city’s Neighborhood Services department. He graduated from Clearwater High School and has a Bachelor’s degree in public policy and administration from St. Petersburg College. If elected, he would be the first African American to serve on the City Council in 40 years and the youngest ever to be elected to the board. He’s running in a three-way race to replace Kathleen Beckman, who is running for Mayor.

George Oliver III for Ocoee City Commission, District 4: Oliver is the first African American elected to the city of Ocoee’s District 4. He’s lived in Ocoee for more than 20 years, but was born in Tarpon Springs and raised in Atlanta. The Florida Democratic Party describes him as having “a big heart and passion for his Central Florida community.”

The deadline to request a mail ballot for the March 19 elections in these cities is March 7.

The FDP’s program comes with grassroots and fundraising support.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].

One comment

  • AK

    February 26, 2024 at 1:41 pm

    It’s the Democrat Party, NOT Democratic.

    We live in a Constitutional Republic, NOT a Democracy.

    Take these facts to heart and succeed to the best of your abilities because in the USA, our Free Market Capitalism gives everyone the equality of Opportunity, NOT equality of outcome.

    In fact, equality of outcome is a mythical Marxist utopia riding on a rainbow-colored unicorn.

    Thank you

Comments are closed.


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