Clarendon's Mark Douglas runs for Sunrise, Florida, Commissioner
Clarendon-born attorney Mark Douglas is now in contention to become one of four commissioners of the Sunrise community in Western Broward County, Florida.
The 55-year-old city is governed by four commissioners and a mayor.
Should Douglas succeed in his campaign, he will be charged with the responsibility of setting policies for the governance of the city, passing laws and adopting the budget.
"My candidacy was declared in December 2015 and then I went about putting together a team of volunteers and others who could assist. We began real campaigning activities sometime in March of 2016 and have been getting a tremendous amount of positive feedback from the community," Douglas told Rural Xpress.
Although Douglas has been involved in leadership in the past when he worked at the University of Technology (UTech) as part of the union representing technical staff, he said this is his first foray into politics.
Douglas said a win would give him a broader platform to serve his community.
"Certainly, the platform as an elected representative is one that generates pride but also gives me the opportunity to make a broader positive impact on people's lives. For Jamaicans, I am sure it would give those in the diaspora a sense of pride that another from among them has been entrusted with the privilege to lead in the community," said Douglas.
On his prospective agenda is to work closely with the eastern end of the city which he said has a significant Caribbean population.
"I am sure they will expect me to advocate for and ensure tangible benefits are brought into that area of the community, as much as it is being done in other better-served areas," he said.
He has lived and served in the community for 15 years, eight of which he served as president of his condominium association, director of his master association comprising more than 700 homes, and on three of the city's advisory boards.
He said that he has been encouraged by members of the community to extend his service by seeking a position on the commission.
"So after much thought I decided to move ahead when one commissioner indicated his retirement plans," shared Douglas.
Born in Rock River, Clarendon, Douglas grew up in the Kellits area and is a past student of Clarendon College as well as both the UTech and the University of the West Indies.
He migrated in 2001 and pursued a law degree.
After law school, he worked at the Miami Dade State Attorney's Office as a criminal prosecutor. He eventually opened his own law practice where he has been practising criminal defence at the state and federal levels, and immigration and family law.
Douglas said being raised in a humble environment gave him a lot of good values.
"It teaches resilience, flexibility, tenaciousness and the value of hard, focused work. The challenges I faced and overcame in Jamaica, the strong educational preparation and the things I learnt working in the organisations that I have worked gave me the discipline and fortitude to be able to do what I am able to do now."
Douglas continues to look for ways he can give back to his country.
For the past seven years he has been employing members of his former community to run a farm he operates there. He has been married to the love of his life, Chelsa, for the past 16 years and they have two sons.