Two seats on the Wilton Manors Commission are up for grabs in the Nov. 8 general election as campaign season kicks into high gear.
Three candidates are vying for the two seats. The top two vote-getters are elected to a four-year term. Here is our Q&A with Roy David Walker. Visit this page for coverage from the 2022 election cycle.
Why have you decided to run for commissioner?
I believe in public services and have committed many hours to helping the communities and the environment. I have even received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award from President Obama in 2015. Public service is very important to me and having lived in Wilton Manors for over 12 years, I decided the best way to improve the city and help the community is to be part of the process. That is why I am running for Wilton Manors Commissioner. I am looking to help the city grow in a sustainable way, but keeping the small town feel.
What are your qualifications?
I have served on a number of Broward County and City of Wilton Manors advisory boards. Currently, I am a member of the Broward County Water Advisory Board Technical Advisory Committee, which provides technical guidance regarding water resource management issues in Broward County. As the Urban Conservation Director for South Florida Audubon, I oversee many environmental and sustainability projects, including the Coastal Dunes Restoration in the City of Pompano Beach. In the Port Everglades Wetland Enhancement Project, I worked in partnership with the county and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to develop a plan for the new mangrove habitat that doubles the mangrove conservation area. Locally, I took on the responsibility of day-to-day management of M.E. DePalma Park, Birds and Butterflies garden, located in the City of Wilton Manors.
Education: Master of Science degree in Environmental Policy / Environmental Planning from American Public University Environmental Sustainability Graduate certificate from American Public University Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from American Public University Public Land Management Certificate from American Public University Watershed Management Certificate from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Leading Sustainable Community Transformation Specialization Certificates from the University of Colorado Boulder. Board & Committees: 2022 – Graduate Wilton Manors Citizen Police Academy, 2020 – 2022 Wilton Manors Planning and Zoning Board 2019 – 2021 Chair, Broward County Urban Wilderness Advisory Board 2016 – 2018 Wilton Manors Parks and Recreation Advisory Board 2015 – 2018 Wilton Manors Environmental and Sustainability Committee 2014 – 2018 Vice-Chair, Wilton Manors Community Affairs Advisory Board 2014 – 2018 Chair, South Florida Audubon Society 2015 – Graduate of the Island City University 2015 – Graduate Broward Sheriff & Office Citizen Academy Awards: December 3rd, 2019, City of Wilton Manors Proclamation by Mayor Flippen 2015, United States Presidential Volunteer Service Award from President Obama 2014, 2015, and 2020, U.S. Army Certificate of Achievement.
List your top issues of concern.
As your next city commissioner, I will work to reprioritize initiatives that focus on sustainability & economic development. I will propose the hiring of a municipal sustainability coordinator who will make recommendations to city commission members based on sustainable practices. For a small city, Wilton Manors has world-class music, foods, arts and entertainment. I will work to support our small businesses and arts by voting and supporting policies that will improve our small businesses and community. I am committed to investing in the future for our residents and making our city an even more vibrant city. When elected, I will be the taxpayers’ watchdog. I will always demand fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability when conducting businesses for the people.
How long have you lived in the city?
Please provide your chief criticism (If any) of the WiltonNext study.
My main criticism of the WiltonNext study was the lack of listening to inputs from residents and more of what the Redevelopment Management Associates thinks we needed.
Are you married, kids, partner, etc?
I have been with my partner for 12 years.
What is your age, profession, job, etc.?
I am 37 years old and work with the county in the Park and Recreation division as a Park Naturalist. I am also the Urban Conservation Director with South Florida Audubon Society.
Does the city have a lack of affordable housing, and if so what can be done about it?
Housing affordability is often treated as a “big city” problem. The reality is that housing affordability is a nationwide issue, affecting big cities, suburbs, and small towns alike. Wilton Manors faces the same issues. With rising cost of homes and rent, many cannot afford to live in Wilton Manors and are being displaced due to skyrocketing prices. As next Commissioner, I would favor policies that new developments need to set aside a portion of new apartments for low-income or the elderly. Although this may not be the silver bullet for affordable housing, it is a first step in addressing the issue.
Do you favor legalizing all forms of cannabis for recreational and medical use?
Yes, I am in favor of legalizing all forms of cannabis for recreational and medical use.
What are some of your biggest accomplishments?
One of my biggest accomplishments is standing up to my teacher, who used his religious beliefs on me as a young openly gay male. He told me I was going to hell for being gay and pushed his religion on me. I took issue with how he treated me and met with the Principal, which escalated to the school board, leading to the first mandatory training for teachers on LGBTQ+ students. I started the GSA chapter at my high school and helped organized teacher training throughout Hillsborough County for LGBTQ+ students from 2002-2003. Every year, I make a point to meet with our state election officers to express my concerns and support for LGBTQ+ bills. I traveled to Tallahassee to advocate for bills promoting LGBTQ+ rights in the State of Florida in partnership with Equality Florida.
I am also proud to be a contributor to saving sea turtles and helping restore our coastal area. For the last 10 years, I have been active with South Florida Audubon Society. I took an active role in the conservation of nests and rescuing hatchlings, making sure that all hatchlings from a nest make it into the ocean without disorientation or disturbance. Working with South Florida Audubon Society, I also helped build over 20 miles of one long dune, including 4 miles at Pompano Beach, Florida. These dunes will protect against storm surges and preserve the natural coastal landscape by trapping sands, which will ultimately help nest female sea turtles.
Another big accomplishment is recognition by President Barrack Obama, for my services to the community. I was rewarded the Presidential Volunteer Service Award in 2015 for the hundreds of hours volunteering for many causes and giving back to our community.
Is there a city department that is underperforming and why?
The Economic Development Department is currently underperforming due to overlapping responsibilities with consultants, with the consultant overruling the Economic Development Department. More responsibilities need to be given to the Economic Development Manager and less hiring of consultants. This will save the city money, while allowing the Economic Development Manager more oversight and range to perform his responsibilities.
Are city employee wages fair and livable?
The employees of Wilton Manors, including Police Officers, City Manager, and all employees will have pay increases in the 2022-2023 budget. Overall, the wages for city staff will be better than it was. I believe the increases from the 2022-2023 budget, it is in the right direction in addressing a fair and livable wage.
Are you in favor of annexing Lazy Lake? Why or why not?
Lazy Lake approached the City about becoming part of Wilton Manors. Lazy Lake passed a resolution requesting that we initiate those discussions. This is occurring now. I feel it makes sense to include Lazy Lakes in the City of Wilton Manors, but before making any decision, I will need more information about their reasons to be a part of the city, and if any debts will be transferred over to the City of Wilton Manors.
What businesses does the city need and why?
I welcome any and all new businesses to our City, especially on Andrews Ave. Commissioners need to focus on areas neglected in our city and that’s West Wilton Manors. When elected, I will work to find ways to help enhance and grow businesses on the West side of the City.
Are you in favor of merging WMPD with BSO?
No, we have an amazing police department. Having a police department within a small radius also affords our residents a quick response.