Just months after Oakland Park voted in new commissioners, Commissioner Matthew Sparks resigned from his post.
Sparks put in his notice Jan. 9 and his resignation went into effect Jan. 18. In his letter to the city, he shared that he will be moving outside of Florida.
“It is with great respect and bittersweet sadness that I … tender my resignation,” he wrote. “I will be moving out of state and will no longer reside in the City of Oakland Park after Jan. 22."
Sparks’ term was supposed to end in November 2024; the city must now decide whether to appoint a new person to the commission or to host a special election on March 14. The city estimates that a special election would cost $74,415. The date to qualify for an election passed on Jan. 23.
A flight attendant for American Airlines, Sparks won a spot on the commission in 2016 and married his partner a few weeks after being sworn in. He described his politics as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” He rotated into the role of mayor in 2020, forcing him to lead Oakland Park through the struggles of a global pandemic. He encouraged residents to mask up and get vaccinated, kept close tabs on cases in the city, helped launch community programs to assist residents, and participated in weekly calls for updates.
Sparks was also in favor of the city expanding its green initiatives. Last year, the city passed an ordinance that he spearheaded that would require electric charging stations in new construction multi-family residences. In 2020, he shared that he was happy to hear that the former KMart lot would not be going to Walmart, but instead to a Sprouts grocery store. Sparks was also in favor of updating the city’s facilities — including Fire Stations 9 and 20, the former having broken ground last week.
The Oakland Park Commission has been supportive of the LGBT community. In 2017, Sparks voted in favor of banning conversion therapy in the city, which passed. In 2021, the Human Rights Campaign awarded the city a perfect 100 score on its municipal equality index after years of scoring 97 to 99 out of 100. Many LGBT people have served on the commission as well, including four running for office in 2020. In 2021, the city installed equality signage throughout Oakland Park.
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