Broward's New Mayor Dale Holness Looks To 2050, Plans To Unite County
Broward County has a new mayor to govern the year ahead: Dale Holness.
Holness spent the last year in the role of vice mayor, under outgoing Mayor Mark Bogen. He was sworn in at a meeting in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday morning, after his fellow commissioners unanimously voted in favor for him to lead the county commission meetings, and be the official face of the county over the course of the next year.
It’s customary for the new mayor to choose a theme or a goal to work towards. Holness touched on a lot of issues relating to social justice in the county, including income inequality, the lack of affordable housing, people without access to healthcare, and people who may struggle to find jobs even as Broward is experiencing a low unemployment rate of 2.8 percent.
"As I move forward this year, the theme is to build One Broward,” He said. “Broward County - one community - moving forward together with prosperity for all. That is my theme."
He said the county as a whole needs to work towards, “Creating policies that afford access to opportunities, and… unifying everyone across racial, ethnic, social, economic background,” he said.
Former State Senator and House Representative Steve Geller was also unanimously chosen by the commission as the new vice mayor of the County. This puts him in line to become mayor next year, if the position does not transition to an elected one.
If a proposed amendment to the County Charter (found here) makes it to the November 2020 ballot, voters will get a chance to decide if they should elect their mayor instead of the county commission deciding.
However, before commissioners designated its new leadership - there was the annual State of the County Address.
Outgoing Mayor, Bogen, highlighted how the county commission works together.
"We are really nine mayors. Broward County's government system allows any one of us - anyone of us can start anything and if we need permission, if we need approval, all we need is four other commissioners to come and approve it,” Bogen said. “So we really all have the authority to move forward in helping the community.”
Bogen’s speech reviewed the year and touched on changes the county has been through since he took office, including: preparations for this year's Hurricane Dorian, adding new destinations to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, and the commission passing a new living wage of $13.27.
“We as a commission heard about workers at our airport and seaport that could not make enough money to support a family, they had to get two to three jobs. And I’m proud that our commission increased the living wage ordinance.”
Holness also pledged to work on a guide for the county through the year 2050.
“Too often…we don’t plan longterm,” he said. “We must come together and establish benchmarks as to where we are, and then build a plan for the future.”