Oakland Park: Big City Problems In Small Town


Oakland Park is still a town where a little money and a good pair of sneakers will win elections.

It’s mostly door-to-door and speaking at club meetings.  Five of the six candidates in Oakland Park competing March 8 for two open commission seats raised less than $7,500 each so far.

The outlier is Shari McCartney, a lawyer with the downtown Fort Lauderdale firm Tripp Scott.  She has about $14,000, including $5,000 of her own money.

McCartney may be the best candidate in the group, but I’ll get to that later.

First, let’s put the money in perspective.

Oakland Park has about 23,000 voters and it appears the two commission winners will spend less than $20,000 apiece.

Compare that with the smallest Fort Lauderdale commission District 2.  It has around 26,000 voters, yet the last winner Bobby DuBose raised over $70,000.

Candidates still campaign the small town way in Oakland Park.  City issues are discussed face-to-face with individual voters.

“Oakland Park is Mayberry in a metropolis, McCartney says.

Oakland Park Is Changing Fast

Oakland Park grew as a blue collar northern suburb of Fort Lauderdale.  In recent years, it has become much more diverse as young professionals, gay families, Hispanics and blacks moved in.

Trouble has also moved in.  Commercial areas are deteriorating and the recession stalled a shot-in-the-arm Main Street project.  Foreclosures are spreading through the city.  City Hall is under pressure from falling property values.

So although Oakland Park’s neighborhoods still have a small town feel, they have big city problems.  That’s where McCartney comes in.

Shari McCartney with one supporter who can’t vote

I’ve known McCartney for a long time as a behind-the-scenes political activist.

I remember her as whip smart.  I remember her bringing tireless enthusiasm to everything I saw her tackle.

Maybe that’s because she is an immigrant (from Canada) and truly appreciates the way of life here that we take for granted.

She was an activist in the Democratic Party for a short time, but it was long enough to become leader of the Young Democrats through her own hard work.  She now is back to where she started when she moved to this country a Republican.

I hadn’t talked to her for years until today.

She’s the same Shari.

As befitting somebody in this non-partisan race, McCartney has support from both liberal Democrats and Republican activists.

A successful gay professional, she also has the backing of many newcomers who have moved into Oakland Park in recent years.  She’s open about her sexual orientation, but says it is not part of her campaign.

“It’s a campaign about improving the community,” McCartney says.

She recently got a big boost — the all-important endorsement of the fire fighters.

I’m not going into her platform or the platform of the rest of the candidates. A good place to start for that is MyOaklandPark.com, a community website with links to campaign material.

Expect a very light turnout.  The estimates are only around 2,300 will vote.

For those Oakland Park residents who do vote, I would consider McCartney.


As always, the other two candidates in McCartney’s race Michael Carn and Roger Mann are welcome to post anything on Browardbeat.com.

Of course, so are candidates from any part of the county.  Just send me an e-mail at Browardbeat@hotmail.com.

13 Responses to “Oakland Park: Big City Problems In Small Town”

  1. Hey Buddy says:

    Bobby DeBose is a FORT LAUDERDALE City Commissioner, not Oakland Park

    That’s what I wrote. Read it, dude.

  2. Kevin says:

    I still laugh at what passes as “lots of money” in Broward political races. These amounts would have been low even 30 years ago in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.

  3. Throwback says:

    Small cities cost too much. They should be absorbed by the larger ones like companies do and it makes sense. People care about neighborhoods. Nobody cares what city. Residents can have all the benefits without so much cost. Do the math.

    I agree that larger cities make more economic sense. Some residents, however, prefer their own smaller communities.

    In Miami Dade, relatively recent municipalities like Doral and Pinecrest have formed. In Broward, we have Southwest Ranches born in the last decade. It was allowed to exist because residents didn’t want to become part of Pembroke Pines. The town is totally bizarre and a waste of resources, but the slightly over 7,000 residents wanted their exclusive little enclave. It actually has two separate parts divided, which is usually not allowed by the Legislature.

  4. lifelong democrat says:

    Shari is awesome. I hope she wins.

  5. Tony H. J. says:

    Your observations about Oakland Park are correct. Would it be better to get a person who has lived in the city longer? Does she understand our heritage and that we don’t want to be another Fort Lauderdale?

  6. S only says:

    nice story Buddy

  7. Floridan says:

    “Maybe that’s because she is an immigrant (from Canada) and truly appreciates the way of life here that we take for granted.”

    Oh my gosh . . . a refugee! How did she ever escape from that oppressive country?

    FROM BUDDY: Did you ever think that it might be that she lived where it was 30 degrees below in the winter, while we are enjoying 70 degree beach weather?

  8. Bob Adams says:

    Shari if an awesome person who defies party labels… she wants what is best! I sent her a check today.

  9. Floridan says:

    “FROM BUDDY: Did you ever think that it might be that she lived where it was 30 degrees below in the winter, while we are enjoying 70 degree beach weather?”

    Not from what your wrote.

  10. Joe S. says:

    I just want to say I think recently elected Commissioner Jed Shank is doing one hell of a job in Oakland Park. We could use more hard working, fresh thinkers like him on the Board.

  11. Tripp Scott Invasion says:

    Shari McCartney is just the tip of the spear. Republican lobbying firm Tripp Scott has supported candidates throughout Broward. Watch for their work after the election.

  12. MayberryVoter says:

    This article suggests to me that effective fundraising equates to best qualified candidate. No doubt a sharp, professional, it concerns me that Miss McCartney is almost entirely funded by fellow lawyers and law firms from the neighboring Metropolis.
    I will withhold judgement, looking for signs that a candidate relates to the voters and will consider residents’ issues above all others. What kind of expectations come with all these checks from folks with no genuine interest in Oakland Park? Just what do you promise the firefighters for that endorsement?
    These things have never impressed me and I vote.

  13. Diane Wendt says:

    If we set aside the financial contribution concerns and ask “Who’s been actively keeping up with Oakland Park’s important issues and proactively participating in roundtables, workshops and community meetings?” the answer isn’t Shari. Her participation in OP city and resident issues has been minimal to non-existant. She is, admitedly, a sharp lawyer and a very busy one. Will she have the time to devote to OP that’s necessary to be a good Commissioner? She certainly hasn’t in the past. I, personally, prefer her opponent, Michael Carn, who has been consistantly involved in OP for years. He has proven himself interested in resident concerns and proven his leadership abilities by his actions. This campaign season he’s been walking the neighborhoods spending time actually talking to residents, not just dropping off signs and brochures. Michael Carn has earned his place on our ballot by his hard work. It is my sincere hope that we, the voters of OP, show him the same respect he has shown us by casting our vote for him.