May 13

My Mom, the Mayor

Me and mom in February, 2001. I was about to give birth to my first child, Cassidy, and she was about to give birth to her third child (after me and my sister), the Town of Southwest Ranches.

Sometimes life takes a U-Turn. Take tonight, for example. I was planning on writing a lovely Mother’s Day post on my co-authored creativity blog, 4 Chicks and a Muse, about my pride in being a “Home Creator,” like my mom–Mecca Fink–was when I was growing up. I thought it might be cool to show a picture of her, showing how she went from being president of the school PTA, to president of her unincorporated area’s HOA, to co-creator and inaugural mayor of the Town of Southwest Ranches, in Broward County, Florida.

Instead, I found only stories of an ugly corruption scandal a few years back involving one Debra Wasserman-Rubin, her husband and others. The negative comments directed at my mom prompted me to write the response below, my unedited but sincere attempt to put a little truth in the cyber world about all the good my mom did for the town in which she still lives.

My mom and original council member and volunteer fire founder Johnny Dollar celebrating the passing of the vote for SW Ranches to become its own town in 2001.

What a Mother’s Day message I hadn’t anticipated writing. I was simply overcome by compassion for my mom, whom I had no idea endured so much backlash following her eight years of volunteer elected service as mayor, during which, among other visionary ideas, she dreamed of a town rich with parks and preserved open spaces for generations to come. Looks like life threw her a U-Turn I didn’t know about. How sad and yet wonderful that learning of this tonight moved me to gain an even deeper love and respect for my mom.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms and daughters who are moms out there. Share the love!

Original Wanch Waggler Blog Post

Tracey Fink Smith said…

In writing a blog post about my mom, Mecca Fink, for this Mother’s Day, I Googled to see if I could find a picture of her as Mayor. I can’t believe what I’m reading. First of all, “Corn Pone”, my mom wasn’t ejected from office. She was re-elected to a second term, which she served to completion and decided not to run again when both my sister and I were pregnant at the same time. Second of all, I remember my mom first talking about the possibility of helping to make SW Ranches its own Town when, as she was President of the SWR HOA at the time, she learned of plans for Pembroke Pines to annex it. She didn’t want that to happen and fought, I mean really worked hard and fought for YEARS to push the due diligence that led to the 2001 vote to township. I recall her enthusiasm, passion, energy, which she shared freely to help create, build and grow SW Ranches (in addition to her nominal ~$3,500/year “salary”, which she felt important to keep low for elected volunteer officials to ensure integrity). I cannot tell you how it saddens me to now find only negative comments about my mom, who honestly believed she was doing good for the town in its boomtime by investing in parks.

I currently live in Oviedo, Florida, a 100-year old town named one of the top 10 places to live in the country for the past three years. Part of what keeps it in the list is the significant investment the town has made in its many parks and protected green spaces.

And while I know that many accomplished dreamers and leaders throughout history are often lambasted and despised for their efforts, it is so acutely painful to see my mom’s voluntary efforts over nearly a decade not only not acknowledged (even on the town’s own website, there is NO mention of her name), but evidently intentionally discredited. No good deed goes unpunished, as the saying goes.

Debra Wasserman-Rubin may have had less than noble intentions and actions. I don’t claim to know about that. However, I do know my mom’s intentions and actions were always, ALWAYS, in the best interest of the town she pushed to create.

So mock, throw stones and point fingers as you like. The truth is that if it weren’t for my mom (and the town’s early leadership), SW Ranches would be the northern tail of Pembroke Pines today and certainly NOT the one wagging the dog.

The rural lifestyle you all value was preserved. The independence you all share was celebrated and allowed to continue. The green spaces you all cherish was spared, not turned into more concrete strip-malls but rather set aside and secured for the enjoyment of all residents.

Forgive me for speaking my mind so boldly. But if my mom’s taught me anything, it’s to speak the truth as you see it when you know it. And mom, if you happen to see this, know that I’m proud of you. Not just for being mayor and creating a town but for evidently enduring the persecution of the very people you tried to help. I love you anyway. Your grandkids love you. Happy Mother’s Day! <3 Tracey

May 13, 2012 11:14 PM

2
comments

2 comments!!!

  1. Peggy says:

    I’m glad to see you speak up on this topic. It is so easy to tell our kids to “be nice”, but then what do we as adults do? Tear people down who are putting themselves out there. How nice it would be if we were all a little kinder to one another and when we do disagree, still display a spirit of grace.

  2. Eva says:

    Great Post! I’m so glad you wrote back. People only see what they want to see and they judge without knowing. Good for you Tracey! We are proud of you and your MOM!

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