Marlon Bolton’s Personal Branding Raises Concerns with Fire Chief


By Agrippina Fadel

In times of natural calamities such as hurricanes, floods, or other disasters, Tamarac residents rely on their city officials to provide timely and relevant information. However, one commissioner appear to prioritize their personal branding and community presence over the delivery of a unified emergency update.

Vice Mayor Marlon Bolton shared concerns about his “brand” when he reposts the city’s messages on his channels and social media, going as far as suggesting that including images of certain other commissioners in shared materials might be “cheapening” the message.

This conversation about branding occurred at the June commission meeting when Fire Chief Mike Annese presented an emergency management update to the commission in preparation for the hurricane season. Annese emphasized the importance of delivering a unified message from the city during emergencies.

City officials are expected to “speak with one voice:” coordinate and integrate the messages with Public Information Officers during emergencies and let one person be the leader of the community and “the voice” during CodeRed messaging, said Annese.

“Whether it’s the mayor, vice mayor, whomever it is who is speaking, we want to make sure that leader of the community is providing that unified message, so everyone is on the same page,” Annese said.

Marlon Bolton's Personal Branding Raises Concerns with Fire Chief

City of Tamarac Flyer and Marlon Bolton’s doctored version featuring himself front and center.

Vice Mayor Marlon Bolton asked if “one message” means the same content with different branding: “Can I copy the mayor’s message with my own branding as long as it is saying the same thing on social media?”

Bolton is the only one of the four commissioners who posts city messages and holiday greetings on social media with his own brand, adding a different design, photo, and signature. Recently, he posted a personalized Juneteenth flyer based on the one the city distributed.

Mayor Michelle Gomez said the whole purpose of discussing emergency communication policies is to have a unified message, not change it with personal branding.

“Vice Mayor is smirking and smiling because he knows [it’s true], and [ social media posts] have been one of the reasons for this conversation. If the procedure is “one voice,” and the message goes out from the City of Tamarac, then it goes out as is,” Gomez said.

City Manager Levent Sucuoglu said the staff wants to encourage commissioners to share the city messages as long as their essence stays the same.

“Our reach is limited, and if you can help us to extend that reach, we appreciate and welcome it,” he added, saying the city prefers the commissioners replicate the message exactly, but if they post it on social media with their own “brand,” it serves the same purpose.

Marlon Bolton's Personal Branding Raises Concerns with Fire Chief 1

City events now become “Marlon Bolton” events due to his branding.

Gomez said she “respectfully disagreed” and added that such messages don’t serve the same purpose and don’t have the same feeling of a unified commission.

“I don’t believe the vice mayor is fighting [this policy] if he is saying he will do whatever is being followed,” said Gomez. “There should hopefully be consensus: if you want to put out the city flyer, it stays the way the city presented it. If you want your golden signature and face on [other messages], which you use all the time, then it’s your call.”

Commissioner Elvin Villalobos called “branding” inappropriate for the occasion, saying, “We are elected officials and not a company or entity on our own. The word branding is being thrown out [as if we were].”

Gomez agreed and said the only brand promoted should be the City of Tamarac.

“We have lost our focus over the last few years. We are not here to be putting our faces and names all over everything. The focus should be the city and its message,” she said, adding that the residents are smart enough to see through the personal branding and motives behind it.

Bolton said he would share information as “one city” but would put his “handsome face and wonderful signature” on shared posts “just to show the residents that I also care.”

“Sometimes when we share people’s pictures, it diminishes or cheapens what we are trying to say because their brand is synonymous with “the ducks are walking across the street today” or “I’m at McDonald’s, here is a photo.” It’s time to bring back the seriousness,” Bolton said, seemingly attacking Villalobos, who often posts on Facebook about local restaurants and recently shared a video of ducklings being saved from a sewer grate.

Since the discussion’s goal was a recommendation for the city commission, not a specific rule to follow, commissioners can still include their personal branding while delivering city messages if they choose.

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Agrippina Fadel
Agrippina Fadel
Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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