PARKLAND, FL- Parkland resident Robert Brannen will be running for City Commissioner District 4 this fall. Brannen, a North Miami native, grew up in South Florida and also lived in the area as an adult before moving to Parkland about four years ago. He is the owner of Happy House Outdoor Living, a company that provides pergolas and shade structures both commercially and residentially.
Brannen grew up in a tremendously active family, and engaging with the community runs in his blood. He played baseball, football, and basketball, while also riding horses competitively. Brannen's mother, Diane, was the first women ever voted onto the City Council of North Miami. Brannen and his wife, Valeria, have a combined seven children.
Robert Brannen shares his personal perspectives below on family, life, politics, and the future of Parkland in a Q & A with TAPinto Parkland.
Can you give us some background about your family here in Parkland?
I married Valeria Ochoa in 2015 which expanded my family to 7 children. My wife and I are alike in many ways which keeps both of us on our toes. The competitive nature is a lot of fun and benefits us in so many ways in our everyday life. Her being a pro golfer is my toughest challenge, though. On the days we play golf I have to make sure that we shoot some hoops, play some volleyball or hit the ping pong table. She's a tough cookie! After living in Weston for sometime, we decided it was time to move on. We came across Parkland, and that was it for us, we didn't look any further, and we have been here for 4 years now. I am very blessed to have my family and to see that each and every one of them are moving toward great success. Our kids are Heather Brannen, 32, Troy Brannen, 24, Tara Brannen 22, Camilla Ochoa, 22, Sara Ochoa, 18, Sebastian Ochoa, 17 and Valentina is 11.
Have you or anyone in your family ever been involved in the political scene before?
I was thrown into the political scene when I was about 13-14. My mother, Diane Brannen, was the first women to ever get voted onto the City Council of North Miami. Me and many of my friends were part of the campaign. From there I attended many meetings, watched my mother battle many issues and become very respected in the community. She was pushed to run for mayor, but elected not to and chose her family at that time.
What about the City Commissioner job interests you the most?
The chance to get involved! I'm excited to hear from the community and tackle the issues they voice. I want to start in District 4, talk to all the businesses, and meet the owners and hear their stories. I will continue that through each and every District. I will sit at the table among my peers and discuss, debate and resolve. When I am out and about in Parkland, I want to make sure that no matter the District, that people can approach me, and when they do, they feel like they can say "thank you" and be able to mean it. There is no better feeling than knowing you are doing the right thing.
What do you feel are the strengths and weaknesses of Parkland as a city right now?
Parkland is a place that young families want to move to, so Parkland is doing something right. The farmers market, movie nights, concerts, sports programs, bike riders, joggers and much more has made this city appetizing for young families. Youth is what grows communities.
I believe that we are still in a healing phase after our horrific event. That event has hit home personally for me as well. It is obviously an issue and the healing process will take time. We can help the process by securing the safety in our city. We need to make sure the (people of the) city trust our leadership to ensure the safety in our schools, parks, streets and communities.
What are your long term aspirations?
I have always been a leader in anything I have committed myself to. My long term aspirations are to make sure that when my name is mentioned in Parkland as a commissioner or whatever role I am in, that it is said, "Robert was a good man who tackled issues with common sense and never left any stone unturned."
Where do you see the City of Parkland in 10 years? What will be different? What is going to be needed?
Parkland leads in so many categories economically, it's hard to believe that we can do much better. Growth in cutting edge technology is a must. Your vision will often change and will need to stay relevant, keeping up with the times. It changes weekly, monthly and yearly. The investment into our streets, parks, landscape, and small businesses will be a driving force to keep Parkland great. A 10-year plan will work itself out as long as you don't get comfortable. With the average age in Parkland being 40-41, I know that there are some bright people among them who will be expecting us to keep up with the times. Bullet pointing a plan is a bit redundant, as every plan I see is nearly the same. I see my plan as making common sense of each item, hearing the voice of the community and then executing in a more than timely manner.
Anything else you'd like to add? How to support your run for City Commissioner?
I am new on the scene with some things to learn on the way. I don't need to learn how to work or succeed, I was taught that at a young age and I have a passion for success. I will support Parkland as a whole and fight for each and every person. I will make sure our children move on in life having great memories of growing up here.
"Get it done and do it right" is my motto. You can support me by following me on Facebook and Instagram. You can donate at my website www.voterbrannen.com. We are planning a meet and greet very soon, and that information will be on our site.