By: Phyllis Kelley
Over the past few weeks in District Two of Tamarac, Florida, I have been canvassing for Petition signatures to Recall and Remove a corrupt and now ineffective City Commissioner from her elected position. Spearheaded by both a Republican and Democratic precinct captains, I wanted to make a difference and joined the small force of like-minded citizens. While political recall may have been the presenting issue, the greater principle emerged very quickly. That is what it is to be a free and proactive American.
Behind each opened door, I met the face of a changing America. “What is this all about?” Asked the family from China.
“What will my signature do?” asked the skeptical Jamaican mother of two.
“I am not a registered voter yet,” said the handsome man from Malaysia with a proud grin, “in two years I will be an American citizen. Come back then, and I will be happy to sign.”
I also met the young pregnant woman from Moldova. She signed for two Americans. She had her baby the next day.
“I wish I could sign,” said the Canadians. “We love how you Americans do it.”
There were some who were in their process of becoming Americans. There were others who are new American citizens eager to take part in this democratic process of recall.
I also met the American citizens who have not registered to vote, hmmmm….. Or who are registered but do not believe that his or her voice and signature will make any change. “They’re ALL corrupt! All politicians are corrupt!” Hopelessness rings in their voices and faces.
I counter with, “Here is your opportunity to exercise your rights as an American Citizen and exercise your democratic muscle under the protection of the U.S. Constitution. This IS your moment to make a difference.” With swirling thoughts fleeting across their faces and with a moment of pause as they look down at their children, “OK. I’ll sign. Give me the petition.”
Now that is empowerment.
Some funny moments, too. Up the street lives an upstanding 80-plus old guard Woodlander, impeccably dressed, her blonde bouffant hair framing her tanned and wise face. With her manicured red nails beckoning me, she invited me into her beautiful Florida Woodlands home overlooking the golf course. Immediately she wanted my opinion on which winter coat to wear to her nephew’s wedding in Boston. In her unique New England way, she asks, “Sooooo, whataya think? Should I wear this one or that one? It’s coooooold up theeere.”
She signed the petition.
“You know, I don’t understand why she isn’t resigning,” she said. “If she really has us constituent’s best interests at heart, she would step down. I know her. She is NOT stupid. Why aren’t her friends talking some sense to her? This is veeery saaaaad.“
At the next house, a young black couple emerged from their home. I approached with my badge and clipboard. The stunning woman commented ” Ohhhhh, I know all about this. I’ve been reading and hearing about it. We’ve been waiting for you. That commissioner must think we’re the ones who are stupid.” She signed immediately, then turned to her husband. “Harry, sign this.”
“Well, what’s it about?” He asked.
“I’ll tell you later. It’s important. SIGN IT!”
My youngest petition signature came from a 22 year-old who told his younger brother that one day soon, he also would be able to sign as a registered voter. My oldest came from my neighbor, Ray, a former professional photographer whose murals hang in Grand Central Station, and is now 99. Although he has diminishing eyesight, he knows all about local politics.
Now Edith, my other dear neighbor down the street is 98. She took the petition to her magnifying reader and signed quickly and precisely. Edith, also an original old guard Woodlander, told her 83 year old friend and chauffeur to sign while riding the other day.
“What’s it about?” asked Helen. “I’ll tell you more later. It’s about that woman riding around in her brand new car and those developers who think they can buy our consciences. Now be a good American and sign it!” The 83 year old said in return, “All right, Edith, you know what you’re talking about and I’ve read about it too. We’ve lived through many politicians. I’m taking action and I’m signing it!”
We are optimistically about to reach our goal. When we do, we will have have made history in Broward County. Even with sun stroke from the weekend’s canvassing, I am still smiling from the rays of this beautiful democracy which is working so eloquently through the galvanized voices and signatures of our American diversity throughout our district in Tamarac, Florida.
Interested in signing the petition? There is still time. You can drive up to the Section One Clubhouse and you don’t even need to get out of your car at 5220 Rock Island Road, just South of Commercial Boulevard:
Thursday, April 11th from 5 pm -7 pm
Tuesday, April 16th from 5 pm -7 pm