Three seats on the Wilton Manors City Commission are up for grabs in the Nov. 3 election and the campaigning has begun to heat up.
Two 4-year commission seats, occupied by Tom Green and Julie Carson, and the Mayor’s 2-year seat, currently vacant.
Green is not running for re-election and Mayor Justin Flippen died in office.
Celebrity chef and local business owner Josie Smith-Malave is the latest to jump into the race for mayor.
Current City Commissioner Julie Carson and former mayor Scott Newton have previously announced their candidacies for the seat.
Meanwhile political newcomers Michael Bracchi, Chris Caputo and Doug Blevins have announced their intentions to run for the commission.
Below is our Q&A with Josie Smith-Malave.
Visit SFGN.com/WMelection2020 to read the other candidate profiles and for other Wilton Manors election news.
Why have you decided to run for mayor?
I’ve decided to run for Mayor of Wilton Manors because after preparing to run for a Commissioner seat, losing our friend Justin Flippen, contracting COVID-19, putting my business Bubbles + Pearls to sleep and seeing our city shuttered by this crisis, I realized, If not now when, If not me, who? I’m answering a call and I’m confident I have a broad range of experience, unique talent, and vision to not only help our community survive this crisis but thrive in it.
Besides, this city has given me so much, my wife Marcy Miller, my business Bubbles + Pearls, my friends, and my community. I want to give back and I want to give big!
What are your qualifications?
Life. I’ve spent 25 years as a community activist, organizer, and facilitator inspiring leaders to create tangible results.
I’ve spent equally as much time as an entrepreneur where creativity has been a necessity, and in this “new normal” we will absolutely need to be creative.
I’ve thrived 20-plus years in the public eye, as a celebrity chef and personality, which will be a unique asset to our rebuilding efforts, our city’s development, and marketing. My career has been in the service industry, deep in the trenches, working hard from the bottom up, sleeves rolled and valuable lessons learned. There I developed character and tenacity. I’m not afraid to work hard or break a sweat and I will work hard for Wilton Manors.
As an entrepreneur, it is paramount to our success to possess three major skill sets, creativity, resourcefulness, and adaptation, I have demonstrated these skills over and over again.
As a Chef, my job is to lead, inspire, and create results. This experience will bring our neighborhoods together to operate as a whole city, attract new businesses and economic development, represent the diversity and needs of our residents, and create a sustainable path forward by working together.
List your top issues of concern?
1. Health and Public Safety. I have a commitment to our community in regards to addressing the trauma which has affected our residents over the past 60-plus days, with an increase of 40% of people in the country experiencing depression, chemical dependency, and suicidal thoughts. A healthy Wilton Manors is a priority, mind, body, and spirit making it easier for WMPD to keep our city safe. We must work together to keep each other HEALTHY.
2. Rebuilding during this Crisis.
Taking progressive action to grow our city, celebrate diversity, and create a sustainable future while preserving our character, improving our infrastructure, and taking a hard stand on committing to our small business community.
3. Strengthen and reconnect our entire COMMUNITY.
We must foster an inclusive and collaborative city attitude that is beyond just an LGBTQ+ conversation, or race, I’m speaking about our neighborhoods and how we work together to celebrate what each neighborhood offers to the overall city experience. Solidify our Wilton city pride and ensure all voices are being represented.
Why are you a better choice than your opponents?
Honestly, the city would be fortunate to have any of us as Mayor, but I do believe for this moment we are living in, for this challenging future ahead of us, I believe the status quo is left in the past, and the pace we will need to succeed forward requires action and results. The residents and business community of Wilton Manors can count on me to stay accountable, stay honest and informative, stay creative and solutions-driven, stay committed, stay accessible, and stay focused on growth.
How long have you lived in the city? Where do you live?
I’ve lived here for six years and my wife Marcy has been a part of the community for over 13 years. We live across the street from Kids in Distress. I led a community legacy project partnership with them and I will reignite the Greenhouse Project as mayor.
Are you in favor of term limits, why or why not?
Yes, I am. I believe in a democracy and I believe in choice. Our public servants are there to serve, inspire, mentor, and create the next generation of leaders. Complacency and comfort are the collapses of innovation and progress.
Talk about your ideas for improving the city’s downtown business district? Is the existing mix of businesses working, or not?
Every successful city has a vibrant downtown. As I mentioned before our three neighborhoods represent the depth of our character. In order for us ALL to thrive, our downtown must reflect the needs of our residents, attract visitors, offer convenience, and represent a diverse commitment to inclusivity. Our downtown must also have an increase in development like a boutique hotel, collaborative office development, micro-housing project, urban landscaping, sidewalk cafes, sightseeing stops, public open spaces, and ample parking. The possibilities are limitless but it’s important we stay committed to preserving our charm and ensure the partnerships are right for our city.
This growth will generate an increase in much-needed revenue for WM, traffic for our businesses, and increase the probability of lowering taxes for our residents.
The city now has an all-gay commission. How will you serve ALL the city’s residents, since the majority of WM’s residents are not gay?
That’s easy! At my restaurant, we are a diverse dining room. It’s not about straight, gay, black, white, trans, young, old, democrat, republican... It’s about being human. In order to be accepted, we must accept each other. I do my best to live as that example. There is more that connects us than separates us and I believe our differences are what makes our community strong, because we all have an experience of life, and when challenges present themselves, we will be better prepared to handle them TOGETHER.
Are you married, kids, partner, etc?
I am married to my beautiful wife and angel on earth, Marcy Miller. No kids yet, but we are thinking about adoption. I work with foster kids and well they are my kids. Plus, I have my animal family, Hiro the pup is the star.
What is your profession, job, etc. (where do you work)?
I am the Chef-Owner of Bubbles + Pearls, TV Host on Its Happening Out, Results Facilitator & Youth Mentor.
Is there anything about your personal story that especially qualifies you to serve WM’s diverse and unique population?
I’m diverse and unique. My entire life has been a collection of challenges and I’ve proven time and time again I persevere with creativity and commitment.
What is your biggest criticism of what the WM Commission has done recently if any?
I’ll save my criticisms and refer you back to why I’m running for Mayor.
Why are you the best choice for mayor?
I am a fierce, soulful, authentic, and loving woman who is a committed, hardworking, creative, and resourceful leader. I believe I have broad experience and unique talents. Simply said, I have what it takes to lead our city out of the dust and into the future, TOGETHER.
What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Convincing my wife Marcy to marry me.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then, you are an excellent leader." -Dolly Parton
Visit SFGN.com/WMelection2020 to read the other candidate profiles and for other Wilton Manors elections news.