Barbara Sharief’s Political Voyage: From Fort Lauderdale to Washington D.C. and Back

A Political Journey

Barbara Sharief’s career has taken an upward and notable progression, from wife and mom to entrepreneur and Broward County Mayor.

Barbara Sharief  is the current District 8 Commissioner of Broward County. Ms. Sharief got her start in politics in 2009 when she was elected to the Miramar City Commission.

In November of 2010, she was elected to the Broward County Commission District 8 seat where she currently serves the diverse population of the cities of Hallandale Beach, Miramar, Pembroke Park, Pembroke Pines and West Park. In 2012-2013 she was selected by her colleagues to serve as Vice-Mayor of Broward County and as Mayor of Broward county for the 2013-2014 term.

Sworn in for a second term as Mayor in November 2016, Ms. Sharief has been hailed for her honesty, integrity, respect, and a professional commitment to strengthening the communities of Broward with her cohesive plans to reach out and engage the culturally diverse population of District 8.

Small Business Initiatives

Ms. Sharief is also hailed as a strong advocate for addressing the homelessness crisis and preventing foreclosures throughout Broward. A native of South Florida, Ms. Sharief has born witness to the many demographic and economic changes that have taken place in the communities she represents. These changes have prompted her to create many innovative approaches to supporting local businesses and non-profits. Her frequent forays in the community and her Broward Means Business initiative have helped provide valuable publicity to a variety of family businesses in Fort Lauderdale and beyond.

The Importance of Family

Hailing from a family of ten with eight siblings, Ms. Sharief is the definition of a self-made woman. Her father, a self-employed clothes salesman, her mother assisted with the financial workings of the family clothing company. Ms. Sharief inherited strong values, morals and ethical beliefs from both her parents as a result.

Barbara Sharief offers insight regarding the importance of her upbringing:

“My parents also instilled within me a strong value for education and hard work. Growing up with a big family, I learned the importance of commitment and taking care of the people you love. Being a part of a big family has helped me view my constituents as an extended family.”

Education

As a product of the public school system, she graduated from North Miami Senior High School and immediately started Miami Dade Community College. She later graduated from Jackson Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in 1992. She went on to obtain an Associate of Science Degree in Nursing from Miami Dade Community College in 1994. Continuing her educational pursuit she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1996 from Florida International University. In 2000 she obtained a Master’s of Science in Nursing and an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Degree from Florida International University.

Recent Appearances

Barbara Sharief is working hard to bring the NACO 2nd VP win home.

Recent public appearances by Barbara Sharief include her travels to Washington D.C. On March 6, 2018, Sharief spoke to the National Association of Hispanic County Elected Officials. She spent her final day in Washington D.C. campaigning for the NACO Second Vice President position. The upcoming election may be the next step along the path for Ms. Sharief in her political travels.

Throughout the course of the Washington trip Ms. Sharief spoke in fifteen meetings and Caucasus, attended two receptions and dedicating a portion of her time campaigning.

According to Ms. Sharief, Chairing the Health Steering Committee offered great conversation on healthy counties, poverty, childhood development and the opioid epidemic.

As listed online, Ms. Sharief’s policy positions include the support of:
· Smart Medicaid reformation that allows for anti-fraud measures without affecting benefits for medically needy children and adults.

· Legislation that supports initiatives and programs to recruit, train, license and retain health professionals, allied health professionals and paraprofessionals, on an expedited basis, due to lack of accessibility to health care and provided shortage.

· Legislation that would request Congress to support bills that would allow individuals in custody to continue receiving Medicaid and other federal benefits until they are convicted.

· Legislation to request mental health and substance abuse issues be funded in the federal budget.

· Legislation to address the opioid crisis and provide funding for national education and awareness.

Since her election as a Commissioner, Ms. Sharief remains actively involved with the Florida Association of Counties. By serving on the Health and Human Services Policy Committee, FAC Board of Directors, and most recently as FAC’s President and Past-President, Ms. Sharief has utilized her experience in the healthcare industry to advocate for a variety of initiatives.

What the future holds for one of South Florida’s most prominent and productive political figures is anyone’s guess. Speculation by political insiders include possible runs for higher office.

Barbara Sharief: Broward County’s American Dream

Barbara Sharief learned early in life that the best way to live her life was by always striving to help others.

Growing up in Miami, Barbara watched her parents seize the lives they wanted and model what it means to be self-supported and altruistic.

Her father, James Sharief, was a self-supported clothing salesman who had an eye for quality. He learned quickly how to determine what his potential buyers liked and sought out those styles at various thrift stores and boutiques, and would subsequently sell them out of his traveling shop (a van and collapsible stall) to various parts of Miami-Dade and Broward county.

“Unless he had to go out of town, one of us, usually me, was always with him,” said Sharief in a recent interview. “The truck had only one passenger seat and my oldest sister and I would tussle to ride with my father.”

Not only did her father instill in her a savvy business acumen, he also modeled the importance of giving back to the community. When he wasn’t selling clothes, he was running a food pantry to ensure that no one in his community would be forced to go to bed hungry.

“He believed that feeding the hungry and helping the homeless allowed blessings to be bestowed upon him.”

When she wasn’t learning how to conduct business or run charities, she was witnessing her mother’s ability to handle the financial end of her father’s business.

However, Sharief would soon lose her number one role model. One weekend morning while she and her father were out in the county, selling clothes, a 15-year-old mugger attempted to rob James at gunpoint.

“He told my father to put his hands up, which he did,” Sharief recalled. “My father said, ‘Take whatever you want. I’ve got eight kids.’ That’s when the boy shot my father one time, in the heart.”

Suddenly, Ms. Sharief and her seven siblings not only lost their father, they were now without their home’s primary source of income.

Academic Initiative

Sharief’s mother found work as a secretary, and at age fifteen, Barbara Sharief herself began working at a local retirement home until 10p.m. after attending school from 7a.m. to 2p.m.

In spite of her loss, she worked hard and graduated high school in 1989, but her education was nowhere near its finish line.

In a recent profile with The Sophia News, Ms. Sharief’s innumerable academic successes are recalled.

She not only earned her Associate of Science in Nursing degree from Miami Dade Junior College within two years of graduating high school, she became one of the youngest people to pass the registered nursing board.

She recalled that it wasn’t about being the best or the youngest, but simply, “I just did it because I had to.”

Her father’s love and model of hard work continued to shine in her life well beyond this massive achievement.

While working as a nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital, she would go on to attend Florida International University, receiving not only a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, but also a Master of Science in Nursing and an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Certification.

Entrepreneurial Pursuits

While it would seem that her resume and work ethic would have to slow down at some point, Sharief is clearly not someone who is ever looking to pause in her pursuit of success.

In keeping with her father’s entrepreneurial spirit, she founded the South Florida Pediatric Homecare, Inc., where she and her mother would team up and provide home healthcare to infants, children, and adults.

The company also strove to provide many necessary services to Broward County, including private duty skilled and unskilled nursing care, visits, wound care, IV therapy, chemotherapy visits, lab drawing from home and medication compliance monitoring. SFPH is a Medicare and Medicaid certified practice that seeks to provide care and comfort for patients both old and young that need consistent, daily medical support.

Ms. Sharief connected with the Broward community, which is a vast and diverse grouping of people that covers a large portion of South Florida.

A Community Effort

According to Ms. Sharief, helping the sick and healing just wasn’t enough.

While owning a business, she saw how important it was to be involved in local government, which is how she found herself sitting on the County Commission for Miramar.

“I never imagined myself in elected office. I was always a community activist assisting friends or neighbors with information and issues. Owning a business really opened my eyes to the effect that local government can have on its residents. I became more involved and entered the political field based on my desire to help people and advocate for those less fortunate.”

In 2010, Sharief served as the City Commission’s Vice Mayor until November when she was elected to the Broward County Commission District 8 seat where she currently serves the population of the cities of Hallandale Beach, Miramar, Pembroke Park, Pembroke Pines, and West Park.

While these communities are vastly diverse populations, many with competing interests, Sharief’s business acumen and compassion for people worked together to make her an attentive and judicial public servant.

As Commissioner, she was responsible for setting policy according to the Broward County Charter, promoting economic development, making infrastructure improvements and creating jobs by supporting small business development in the Broward County community. In addition, she was also responsible for supporting the county’s legislative agenda during the annual legislative session in the state capitol of Tallahassee.

Due to her personal experiences, Commissioner Sharief has used her position to advocate for solutions to homelessness and the prevention of foreclosures in Broward County. Her programs, including Commissioner on a Mission and Broward Means Business, utilize Sharief’s experience in the business world and offer free foreclosure prevention seminars, job fairs, and a variety of business workshops geared towards keeping Broward County’s small business owners up-to-date and ahead of key trends that can help their businesses to flourish.

Ms. Sharief was so well-loved by her constituents that she was elected Vice-Mayor of Broward County, and went on to serve two terms as Mayor of Broward County.

Sharief has completed her time as Mayor, and with her record, it seems she is destined to continue to serve in increasing capacities as she works to help others and create a better place for as many as she can. The political arena is awaiting Ms. Sharief’s next move.

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief Rebuilding After Hurricane

Recently re-elected to the seat of Mayor in South Florida’s Broward County, Barbara Sharief has expressed her dedication to continuing the work of growing Broward County’s economy by expanding the influence of local businesses. Her plan of action is centered around the newly issued 2016–2020 Commission Strategic Plan, available to view on the county commission’s website. The plan is based on Sharief’s first outline that was issued in 2013.

Known as Broward Means Business, this entirely self-funded action plan details ways to help improve the financial health of her constituents by enacting programs to provide foreclosure assistance and seminars on navigating through the economic slump and resulting unemployment issues.

“Businesses, big and small, are increasingly choosing to locate and expand in Broward County and these are all positive indicators that our local economy is strong and stable.” — Barbara Sharief

This four-year Strategic Plan focuses on several crucial qualities in regards to South Florida’s economy such as sustainable housing, public transportation systems, financial independence, and promoting culture through the arts. All of which promise to help the local community by providing a stable job market, economic opportunities, as well as humane and comfortable accommodations for all of Broward County’s residents.

Providing Relief From Irma

However, this can be difficult to do in the wake of a natural disaster. Despite all of the preparations and prior experience Florida has with hurricanes, nothing can truly prepare an entire population for the raw power a hurricane can unleash. Especially one large enough to cover the entire state at the same time.

In the aftermath of hurricane Irma, Mayor Barbara Sharief has worked tirelessly to organize relief efforts and reassure the public, even going so far as to lift the city-wide curfew less than 48 hours after the storm had passed, garnering a few raised eyebrows from other city mayors.

“Our goal right now is recovery and restoration, and that means that we need to get people back to work, get essential personnel back to work, get relief for the people who worked for the five days through the storm and get the businesses back up and running,” she said. “No curfew right now is necessary.”

Care Force activated to help Hurricane Irma victims.

With 89% of the county left without power after Hurricane Irma’s destruction, it was vital for relief personnel to be able to do their jobs quickly and unhindered. And despite the approximately half of the county’s stoplights being out of commission and a significant amount of foliage debris lining the roadways, many of Broward County’s major centers were up and running that Tuesday. Broward College reported that the majority of their power will still on and that classes could resume in the next few days, while Ft. Lauderdale airport had flights scheduled to come in and out with only minor delays expected.

Mayor Barbara Sharief addressing the county about safety measures for Hurricane Irma.

 

How Local Politicians Are Addressing The Opioid Addiction Crisis

by
James Westfield

The opioid addiction crisis is tearing apart our country. The ravages of heroin and painkilling pill addiction knows no boundaries, socio-economic class or gender bias. The effects of deaths from addiction, usually as a result of overdoses, are incalculable from both an emotional and financial standpoint.

Addiction tears apart families and communities with its invisible slaughter of those whose sin is often nothing more than a shoulder injury or a slip and fall at work.

The cycle works this way: someone gets injured and is then prescribed a synthetic opiate like oxycontin or hydrocodone. These painkillers, while highly effective at minimizing or eliminating pain are among the most addictive prescription pills ever created. The cycle continues when a patient cannot eliminate the addiction and then turns to heroin or fentanyl use, often with deadly consequences.

The cycle repeats on an alarming basis in communities as varied as Delray Beach, Florida and Montpelier, Vermont. The United States Federal government has finally begun to address this humanitarian and medical crises with the passing of legislation. Recently, in June of 2017, Congress passed a new bill allocating $2 Billion toward treating opioid addiction.

Here are some statistics, courtesy of the American Society of Addiction Medicine:

  • Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others.
  • Opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain.
  • Addiction is a primary, chronic and relapsing brain disease characterized by an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
  • Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin.
  • It is estimated that 23% of individuals who use heroin develop opioid addiction.
  • Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015.
  • From 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales and substance use disorder treatment admissions related to prescription pain relievers increased in parallel.
  • The overdose death rate in 2008 was nearly four times the 1999 rate; sales of prescription pain relievers

Local politicians are now also becoming more proactive in addressing the catastrophe in their communities. Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief recently hosted a Town Hall Meeting illustrating how the County and the area of Fort Lauderdale are addressing the crisis. The meeting included local political leaders and law enforcement officials.

Officials in Vermont, Massachusetts and other states at both the local and state levels are exploring alternative treatments, the de-criminalization of opioid use by sending users to rehab clinics, and many other new policy initiatives with the hope of saving more lives.

One thing is sure, government is now taking a much more progressive and holistic view of drug overdoses, addiction and the spread of heroin in American communities.