By: Jen Russon
Doug Maesk and his husband, Noel, live in a landscaped, serene home in Woodmont. The walls are flanked with oil paintings and Noel’s photography. Maesk, a psychotherapist and owner of Maesk Group Inc. in Fort. Lauderdale, has served on the board of directors of his Homeowners Association. A love for local government led to his current bid for the District 4 seat on the city commission.
“My job as a therapist is literally listening to people, and that’s what I want to do for my fellow residents,” said Maesk. “Many of them feel like their local government doesn’t hear them. I want to be the voice in city hall that listens, and brings the change they want to see.”
Spreading his campaign message “Moving Tamarac Forward” has shown Maesk that he is better at managing stress than previously thought. He said that he feels like he has canvassed every square inch of District 4, covering the Woodmont, Heathgate and Sunflower neighborhoods.
Nonetheless, the fit 55-year-old with an infectious smile, said it all feels right. He has followed politics all his life, even meeting Jimmy Carter as a teen. He has found the American dream personified in other experiences too, like listening to Bruce Springsteen.
“I’ve seen Bruce in concert 130 times. The message behind his music is faith, hope and love – basically, these are the forces driving my campaign.”
He added that his favorite song is Thunder Road because it, like his campaign, feels like an invitation to better things ahead.
Maesk may make a few jokes and wax poetic, but he just as easily shifts gears, and talks numbers and statistics. He knows the demographics in his district.
“The average age of Tamarac residents is 47. In 1990 it was 65. Our city is changing fast. It’s gotten so much more diverse. We need smart business growth here. We shouldn’t have to drive to Fort Lauderdale for a great night out,” said Maesk.
To date, most of the candidate’s endorsements are from local businesses like Sunshine Cleaners, King’s Cave Grooming For Men, Apex Credit Consultants, Teresa’s Unique Salon, Rejoice Café and Heritage Art Galleries. He is also endorsed by Orange Tree Breakfast and Lunch, Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus and the Dolphin Democrats.
In September, the owner of Orange Tree Breakfast and Lunch hosted a meet and greet for Maesk, where he had a chance to discuss his advocacy plans for a top to bottom review of code enforcement and better business incentives.
Maesk recommends a citizen review panel to look at government spending. He thinks his elected officials have turned a deaf ear to their constituents. As an example, Maesk cited approval of a maintenance shed on the Pines III golf course.
“I thought that was a betrayal of the community. There are 61 homes there, and many of those owners petitioned my opponent, but my opponent and the city went ahead with it anyway.”
Maesk is offering voters a healthier relationship with their elected officials, likening it to a city handshake.
“I want to foster healthy relationships between the city departments of building, planning, zoning and code enforcement, along with business owners. It pains me to see lost opportunities when businesses open in Coral Springs or elsewhere. We can make it attractive for them to open here,” said Maesk.
He added that improving customer service will be an integral part of this effort, as well as his review and reduction of permit fees. His platform includes expanding the Broward Sheriff’s Office Burglary Apprehension Team.
It’s a campaign that seems to be catching fire. Maesk’s friends and family say he’s earned it.
“I have knocked on doors in every street, every house I can go to, at least once. It’s meeting people face to face that has been the best part of campaigning,” said Maesk, nodding to a stack of campaign materials he and Noel disseminate to voters every weekend.
His husband said they have been pleasantly surprised by how nice people are when they open the door.
“I love to help Doug campaign not because I think his opponent, Debra Placko is doing a bad job, but because I think – and am finding a lot of voters agree with me – that Doug could do a better job.”
Both have said that knocking on doors is a big part of campaigning, but it’s not the only part. Much of the effort takes place in Maesk’s home office, which he calls, “the War Room”.
The focal point there, besides the charcoal pair of cats who lounge on its couch, is a District 4 map that is colored pink to indicate where he’s going and where he has been. Maesk said he is grateful to supporters who have helped him cover so much ground.
One of his volunteers, Barbara Behrens, penned a letter about her experience to the Sun Sentinel. She describes taking her granddaughter door-to-door in an effort to get out the vote for Maesk.
“All campaigns are important, large and small, but especially small. Small is where we live. Small affects our lives directly,” Behrens wrote.
More information about Maesk can be found on DougMaesk2018.com.
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.