In the News

Florida Democratic Party Launches Take Back Local Program Ahead of March 19 Elections

Seven candidates running in local races selected to receive support to flip city council, commission seats across the state

Today, the Florida Democratic Party launched the Take Back Local program, which provides resources to local candidates and campaigns running in competitive races across the state. The Florida Democratic Party released the following statement: 

“I am proud to launch the Take Back Local program today, spotlighting seven candidates running in competitive municipal elections on March 19,” said FDP Chair Nikki Fried. 

“These races are nonpartisan so it’s important for voters to know which candidates will fight for our values and it’s our job as a party to provide the infrastructure democratic candidates need to win — that’s how we will take back Florida. We are fielding candidates and contesting races everywhere and it starts at the local level,” Chair Fried added. 

“We have developed a rigorous review process to identify candidates and campaigns running in competitive local races across the state,” said Candidates and Campaigns Director Danielle Hawk. “We are prioritizing local races first because this is where we can make the most impact.”  

Seven candidates have been selected in the first phase of the Take Back Local program and will receive grassroots and fundraising support. For the following races, the deadline to request a mail ballot is March 7, and election day is March 19. 

The Florida Democratic Party is supporting Maria Rodriguez (Pembroke Pines), Karen McNeil (Winter Garden), Andy Thomson (Boca Raton), Yvette Drucker (Boca Raton), Mark Bunker (Clearwater), Javante Scott (Clearwater) and George Oliver (Ocoee) to take back local seats in Broward, Palm Beach, Orange and Pinellas counties:

Maria Rodriguez, Pembroke Pines City Commission, District 3

Maria Rodriguez was born in Colombia and has lived in Pembroke Pines for two decades. She has served her community leading outreach for the Broward County Commission District 7 and has started two businesses. As a community organizer and business owner, Maria understands what Pembroke Pines needs and will bring a fresh perspective and new era of inclusive governance as a Pembroke Pines City Commissioner. 

Maria is the only Hispanic candidate in the race to represent a district where 45% of its residents are Hispanic.

Karen McNeil, Winter Garden City Commission, District 3

Karen McNeil is a lifelong resident of Winter Garden. She is the proud mother of two daughters and grandmother, nonprofit leader and business owner in District 3. She is President of Fresh Start Entrepreneurs, Inc., a nonprofit focused on mentoring new business owners to foster a strong local economy and the owner of McNeil’s Adult Daycare, an organization inspired by her daughter and driven by her personal mission to ensure that people of all abilities find purpose and feel valued in our communities. Karen has always been instrumental in identifying opportunities to bridge gaps in the community and increase economic opportunities for everyone.

As Winter Garden City Commissioner, she will continue to be a tireless advocate for economic development and public safety. 

Andy Thomson, Boca Raton City Council, Seat D

Andy Thomson was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in a special election in August 2018 and secured re-election unopposed in March 2020. He has served as the Vice-Chair of Boca Raton’s Community Redevelopment Agency and sat on the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency’s governing board. Prior to his time on the City Council, Andy served on the City of Boca Raton’s Education Task Force and Community Advisory Panel. 

A Georgia Tech graduate in electrical engineering and a former college football player, Thomson earned his law degree from the University of Miami School of Law. He is a practicing attorney at the Boca Raton law firm of Baritz & Colman LLP, an adjunct professor at FAU teaching local and state government, and a dedicated family man who has lived in greater Boca Raton for over 10 years. Andy and his wife Joanna have been blessed with five children.

Yvette Drucker, Boca Raton City Council, Seat A (Re-Election)

A first-generation Cuban American, Council Member Drucker grew up in Miami and moved to Boca Raton in 2004. Council Member Drucker graduated from Florida International University with a degree in International Relations. Council Member Drucker has been known for her policy in advocacy and tireless activism for children and families. 

She serves on the boards of the Florence Fuller Child Development Centers, Boca Raton Children’s Museum VP and Treasurer, Mentor for the Viner Scholarship Foundation and as a member of the host committee for the Boca Raton Museum of Art, host committee for Hillel International, committee member for National Jewish Health and GO Pink Ambassador. 

Mark Bunker, Clearwater City Council, Seat 2 (Re-Election)

Mark Bunker was elected to Clearwater City Council, District 2 in 2020 and was selected to serve as vice-mayor in 2023. Before stepping into public service, Mark was an Emmy award-winning journalist, telling peoples’ stories as a reporter and broadcaster in the midwest. He relocated to Clearwater in 1999 and has lived and worked in the city for over two decades.  

Javante Scott, Clearwater City Council, Seat 3

Javante Scott was born and raised in Clearwater, where he graduated from Clearwater High School. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy and Administration from St. Petersburg College. Javante Scott is a public servant dedicated to improving neighborhoods and providing city services through his current role in the city’s Neighborhood Services department.

If elected, Javante would be the first Black council member to serve on the Clearwater council  in 40 years and the youngest ever city councilmember.

George Oliver, Ocoee City Commission, District 4

Commissioner George Oliver III is the first African American Commissioner elected to the City of Ocoee, District 4. George has a big heart and passion for his Central Florida community. Born in Tarpon Springs, Florida, and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, George has been an Ocoee resident for more than 20 years.

Stay in Touch