By: Sharon Aron Baron
Back in 2016, then-candidate Marlon Bolton said that once he was elected, his mission would be to make sure residents living in the eastern portion of the city would have the same level of services those out west enjoy.
While the east doesn’t yet have the recreational facilities he envisioned, Bolton has tried to give his constituents a high level of service, including the new “Light up the East” event in Caporella Park this year.
But don’t call him Commissioner Bolton anymore, city commission members just appointed him vice mayor on Wednesday evening where he will serve for one year.
“I’m honored to become the first black vice mayor in the city’s history — as well as the youngest and the most handsome vice mayor,” he jokingly told the audience at city hall on Wednesday.
Jamaican Born, Bolton, 34, moved to the United States in 2006. He earned a bachelor’s degree in public safety management from Miami Dade College in 2018 and works part-time as a county court mediator. Bolton is also the lead pastor at Praise Experience Church of North Lauderdale.
In the three years since Bolton has been elected, he has been a staunch supporter of seniors and championed a city ordinance granting low-income seniors an additional $25,000 tax exemption, and has advocated for First Time Home Buyer Grants, Home Rehabilitation Programs.
In 2017, before Hurricane Irma, Bolton was in his district, helping residents install their shutters. Last July, after a water main break in Fort Lauderdale, which cut the water supply to residents in the eastern portion of Tamarac, both he and Commissioner Placko brought water supplied by the city to residents in Tamarac Lakes 1 and 2.
The opportunity to be vice mayor is competitive for the annual, appointed position. In 2018, when it was Commissioner Julie Fishman’s turn, she passed up the opportunity so she would be appointed during her reelection year. Bolton was also passed up, which left Commissioner Debra Placko, who had just served two years prior, as the only choice. However, since Mayor Michelle Gomez was recently diagnosed with cancer, she felt more at ease with Placko serving in her absence.
Because Fishman gave up her turn, this year, it was a toss-up as to whether she or Bolton would be appointed. Based on historical data, District One had less appointed vice mayors over the last ten years than any other district, so it was a matter of who would get the most votes.
At the workshop on Monday, when the question of nominations came up, the commission was uncharacteristically quiet.
That is, until Bolton nominated himself that morning, then was seconded by Commissioner Mike Gelin.
Gelin said that it was well past time District One had some representation, and Commissioner Bolton has been a good representative of the district.
“Light Up the East is a great example of some of the ideas that he’s put into action, and I actually think that ceremony was better than the west side ceremony in my district, so I think I have to raise the game here,” said Gelin.
At Wednesday’s city commission meeting after it became official, Bolton told the audience that being appointed vice mayor was a big honor.
“I don’t see this as a ceremonial honor. I don’t see this as just wearing a hat. It’s a role of service, dedication, honor, and respect, and I plan to live that mantra this next year.”
He thanked the mayor and told the audience things had not always been good between them, but he had grown and changed.
“I’m young, vibrant, determined, focused, and full of life, and sometimes that strong personality can be misconstrued.”
Bolton says his theme for the year is “One Tamarac, One Vision, One Mission in Unity” where he plans to advocate for more transparency and community engagement initiative during his year as vice mayor.
“I want Tamarac Residents to know that they have a friend in city hall, and I will continue to advocate for their interest. I will launch the Tamarac First Initiative that will revise the living wage ordinance for employees and one that will give Tamarac residents first preference for city jobs.