Jamaican-born educator and businessman Leo Gilling is among five candidates who will face the electorate in Miramar, Florida tomorrow, seeking to become a commissioner to manage the affairs of the city.
The commission is the city’s governing body and comprises four members and the mayor.
Gilling is seeking to unseat Haitian-American Darlene Riggs, who is the incumbent seeking a second term. Other challengers include Alexandra Davis, a former commissioner who resigned in 2015 to challenge Barbara Sharif for the County Commission and lost. Davis also jumped in the Mayor’s race and lost to Wayne Messam. Dennis Hinds and newcomer Barbara Ingram are also in the race for seat 4.
Mayoral challenger Josue Larose is running against the incumbent, Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam, in the March 12 election.
Gilling, a graduate of Oracabessa High School in St Mary and Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in Montego Bay, St James, holds a degree in accounting from National University in California and has been active in diaspora affairs here for several years.
He is currently chairman of the Jamaica Diaspora Education Task Force and heads the team organising the Fourth Biennial Advancement in Education Summit set for April 7-10 in Broward County.
He serves on Miramar’s Parks and Recreation Board, Miramar’s Sister City Exploratory Committee, the Partners for Youth Foundation Board, the Caribbean Maritime University Foundation Board, Broward Alliance for Caribbean Educators, and is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Lauderdale Lakes.
Gilling owns and operates an Allstate Insurance brokerage and produces an Internet radio show. He has over 20 years of experience in the accounting and cost analysis, business consulting, media and hospitality sectors.
With a 12-point manifesto under the theme ‘Let’s Move Forward’, Gilling said he entered the race because he believed in the collective power of the people of Miramar. His passion for a better Miramar is an inclusive one, he said, in which all residents can take pride in their city because they are actively and consistently contributing to its economic, social and cultural growth. This is evident in his suggestion to make Shirley Branca Park a cultural hub that will attract local entrepreneurs while positively impacting businesses in historic Miramar.
As a small business owner himself, Gilling said that if elected, his priorities include working for “the development of small- and medium-sized businesses to ensure job creation and revenue growth”. He also plans to look for ways to balance the city’s budget through increased revenue, and take steps to increase tourist arrivals in the city.
According to Community Advocate News, which calls Gilling’s ideas “fresh and pragmatic”, says his campaign has been receiving positive responses from residents.
“His clear vision and solid plan for making Miramar a thriving and self-sustainable city resound with them, as they no longer wish to place politicians with empty promises in office. Gilling’s proposal for increased, self-generating revenue, without the usual additional tax burden is being enthusiastically embraced by residents,” the news outlet said.
“It is such a joy to speak with the residents and get a positive feedback,” stated Gilling, who has been on the campaign trail, going door to door from April last year. “Listening to their concerns allows me to get a better understanding of what needs to be done when I am elected.”
Gilling, who is the recipient of numerous awards and citations for his work within the Jamaican community across the United States, said the development of more cultural, social and educational opportunities to benefit the youth of Miramar is also on his priority list.
Gilling is the father of four, and a mentor to many.
The city of Miramar is situated in south-western Broward County and is the third largest city in the county.It has a large percentage of nationals from Jamaica and the Caribbean, earning it the nickname Car-mar.
By: Harold Bailey