Woodlands Residents
Recall Team Volunteers consisting of many Woodlands residents

By: Sharon Aron Baron

Team Recall formed in December consisting primarily of, but not exclusive to Woodlands residents who were angry that Patte Atkins-Grad had the audacity, to not only play dumb to charges of bribery and corruption, but to think that she could suddenly pretend it all didn’t happen and return to office to a forgiving public.

We could not forgive nor forget that she never denied the $6,000 downpayment she received for a new BMW or the $4,000 she received for her victory party at Diamante’s – all paid for by the Chaits in return for her vote.

Many friends asked Patte to step down. Pleaded with her. She wouldn’t listen or budge. Even when it became inexcusable for her to stay when back in February, over 400 Woodlands residents signed the petition.

Only 200 voted for Patte in 2009.

It was obvious that Patte was not back in office for her constituents.

Nothing could have prepared us on how to go out and get 1,250 signatures in 30 days. There are no guide books and no other city in Broward has successfully done this before.

When we started our first attempt at the recall late in January with just a few volunteers, many people that that we met didn’t even know who their city commissioner was. Once we mentioned Atkins-Grads name, or mentioned the Chaits, a bell usually went off.

Sometimes we found that our biggest obstacle was complacency, with many people griping, “They’re all crooks.”

We would explain to them that we had good representatives in office, and then we had….. Patte Atkins-Grad.

We showed our residents that through the power of our legal petition, only we could remove the bad ones.

Each signature was both an educational experience and a victory.

Our volunteers were accused of many things; Patte Atkins-Grad even accused us of accepting special interest money.

We’d have a good laugh at that. For in Patte’s mind, surely we couldn’t be doing something like this for nothing, could we?

After failing by 18 signatures, back in March, it was absolutely devastating for us as well as for the 1,400 residents that signed. We were ready to hang it up and quit, but we received so many calls and emails from residents that encouraged us to try again.

We also believed that our commissioner was ineffectual at helping our constituents after watching her behavior at the Annual Woodlands Homeowner’s Association Meeting where she was passing out flyers with embellished figures on it to scare residents into thinking a new election would cost them $200,000. This was later debunked just days later by the Supervisor of Elections and the City Commission. We also witnessed how out-of-touch she was to the progress of the Woodlands District after she attended a Focal Group meeting with nothing to contribute. Atkins-Grad was clearly out of touch with her own community.

Our volunteers knew that if we tried to again, we had to do something different. This time, we received a phone call from a friend and former School Board Candidate Andrew Ladanowski of Coral Springs who felt badly that we failed by so little. He helped design a software program that would work with our efforts and help organize us so that we didn’t visit people who were not registered voters. Andrew’s software allowed us to create walk lists for our team, and also made sure our signatures are all verified before they went to the Supervisor of Elections.

What started out with five of us at Alvin Entin’s home back in December, mushroomed into 27 volunteers during the second attempt. Many of our volunteers are neighbors in the Woodlands in Tamarac that have joined in our effort, making this a well-coordinated effort.

Woodlands volunteers took on their streets or even their entire sections while our Tamarac volunteers took on various precincts. Over 1,800 residents signed the petition, but after validating them, so many of them weren’t registered in District Two, or weren’t registered at all, so we only kept 1,531 that we knew that the Supervisor of Elections would qualify. This was 20% more than what was required.

530 of the signatures were from Woodlands residents.

What next? After our volunteers took them to the City Clerk’s office Monday evening, the Clerk stamped them and kept them under lock and key. On Tuesday morning, she’ll be driven by two Broward Sheriff’s deputies to the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office in Fort Lauderdale to deliver them in person.

If the Supervisor of Elections office approves the signatures, it’s not over. Atkins-Grad will have five days to respond to the recall. Then the second phase of signature getting must begin where we must go out and get 15 percent of the resident’s signatures. Residents who have signed, may sign again. If those are verified, then an election will occur where voters would decide “yes” or “no” at the polls whether to recall Atkins-Grad.

Back in January, Atkins-Grad said she would not step down and is staying for her constituents. It is clear that her constituents have spoken in the precinct that elected her back in 2009. If Atkins-Grad truly cares for the residents that she says she is staying for, she will gracefully step down this week.

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Sharon Aron Baron
Sharon Aron Baron created the Woodlands Tamarac in 2010 for original News for the community. In 2011 she went on to create Tamarac Talk, in 2012, Coral Springs Talk and 2017, Parkland Talk.

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