On Nov. 8, around 9 p.m., an announcement changed Marlon Bolton’s life. While his campaign contributors were analyzing the results of the Tamarac city commission elections, he was on the road. His victory was expected—he was 800 votes ahead around 7:30 p.m.
After being a church minister, singer, business owner, model booker, student and community advocate, Bolton became Tamarac city commissioner for District 1.
At 31, Jamaican-born Bolton is the first black candidate to be elected to the city’s commission in 53 years.
He is currently pursuing his bachelor’s in public safety management with a criminal justice concentration at North Campus.
District 1 covers the east side of Tamarac, a city located in western Broward County. The district has 9,953 registered voters, and 6,020 of them actually voted. With 3,542 votes (58.84 percent), Bolton won against incumbent Pamela Bushnell, who held the position for the past two terms.
He was sworn in on Nov. 21, the same day one of his latest singles “Overjoyed” was released.
Bolton, who is a professional singer, once recorded a song called “More Than” with Grammy award-winning producer Myron Butler. He plans to release two more of his church style singles by the end of the year.
Bolton has also served as pastor at Praise Experience Church in North Lauderdale for the past three years and has been in ministry since 2007. He says the transition from religion to politics was an easy segue way.
“Some people say politics and religion is like oil and water, [but] I think it’s a perfect mix. The opportunity to become a pastor and…a politician is wanting the same, meaning that you have the opportunity to serve people, and that’s how I see it,” Bolton said. “Delegation is the key in anything and that’s where the law of balance comes in. If I do everything that I do by myself, I would go crazy. But it’s delegating, it’s giving [tasks to] the people who you love and trust.”
As a candidate, Bolton physically knocked on around 3,000 doors in Tamarac and left door hangers on all 9,000 doors twice, he said. He also campaigned through ice cream and soup fest fundraisers, as well as meet-and-greet events in the community.
His hard work and commitment to reaching out to the residents of his district paid off. Bolton said he raised $16,500 through donations from friends and people whom he met throughout his campaign. He distributed thank you notes to residents after being elected.
The first issue that he plans to address as city commissioner is the lack of a community clinic for the elderly population of the district. He plans to create a clinic for senior citizens to exercise. Along with the clinic, Bolton wants to build a youth empowerment center with tutors offering homework help and counseling.
Bolton has been married for three years and has a two-year-old son. He aspires to become a state representative after serving as city commissioner, and his long-term goal is to become a federal immigration judge.
“Race does not matter, age does not matter, ethnic background does not matter,” Bolton said. “Any dream that [students] have is attainable, but they first have to believe that they can do it. If one does not believe in him or herself, first and foremost then nobody else will believe in them. I spoke with conviction, and I spoke with the same belief that I had for myself and that belief was transferable.”
Staff writer Maria Vizcaino contributed to this report.