Democrats, republicans and independents agree on one thing: Now is not the time to raise taxes. Very soon, voters will decide whether to approve a request by the Broward County School Board to increase ad valorem taxes on all residents. With inflation at a 40-year high, food prices extremely high, gas costing families an additional $200 per month on average and rent costs forcing more families into poverty, I led the charge on the county commission urging my colleagues to vote NO against this additional tax increase on Broward families. Ironically, before sending this to the county commission, the School Board Members didn’t even discuss this item on a regular agenda; it was on the consent agenda with no public input. Subsequently, this proposal was placed on the county commission agenda, then I spoke out loudly and publicly against this action and more than 83% of you responded to my commission survey urging a NO vote against this tax increase.
I know what success on these issues looks like. As a former member of the leadership team under former Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, I also served as one of several faces of a successful $1.2 billion bond referendum down south. Compare that to the last time the Broward County School Board asked voters to support a bond deal — $800 million in 2014 to renovate crumbling schools. Today, we still see schools along the I-95 corridor still left behind (Blanche Ely High School, Northeast High School, Stranahan High School), local businesses left out (name twenty black local firms who received millions in contract dollars) and a facilities program still in shambles (ADA compliance and maintenance remain big issues countywide).
Today, there is no trust in Broward County Public Schools. Also, most recently we learned a grand jury will be recommending removal of School Board Members any day now and the school district received a “B” while Miami-Dade and Palm Beach were rated “A” districts.
As a product of Broward schools and a former student advisor to the school board nearly 20 years ago, I have seen the ups and downs of school board members and school district leadership. Whether serving on the FAMU Board of Trustees or other local boards, I have always been an independent voice and fiscal watchdog, willing to thoroughly scrutinize questionable spending or additional costs to families. From 2010 to 2015, I voted against tuition increases on FAMU families before it was the popular thing to do.
After nearly eight months serving as a county commissioner, I am humbled to represent the residents of District 9 and all of Broward County advocating for issues that are important to our families. As a county commissioner appointed several months ago, I have rolled up my sleeves and focused on a series of issues.
I have proposed several common-sense items, including creating a new veteran business program and mentor protégé program, both of which received initial unanimous support from my colleagues. As the only Black and first millennial on the Broward County Commission, I have worked collegially with my colleagues and illustrated I’m not afraid to vote no when warranted. I will always speak up and speak out on issues that clearly impact our community.
It’s unfortunate the Broward School Board has said very little to the community on this proposal – no surveys, no public forums, no transparency to the voters. The Broward School Board’s decision to push this in the August primary election with the lowest voter participation countywide, rather than in November, when voters will decide several high-profile state and local races, smells very bad! With no public trust, costs soaring on all families and a lack of confidence from many in our community, I urge all voters to vote NO on the School Board ad valorem tax increase. Now is not the time to increase taxes on homeowners and taxpayers of Broward County.
Broward County Commissioner