Sylvia Sharps might not be the most likely candidate to seek a seat on the Palm Beach County Commission, but she believes she has something to offer to the conversation.
Sharps believes that nastiness on the county commission has been normalized, and she feels commissioners should be able to agree to disagree, in a more agreeable fashion. More importantly even, they should find things to agree on and get positive things done for their constituents.
That is why she is running as a Democrat for the District 6 seat, which covers most of the western communities. Incumbent Commissioner Melissa McKinlay is leaving due to term limits.
“People don’t have to be so grumpy,” Sharps said. “I want to be a catalyst to bring back common courtesy and the art of actually paying attention to residents who come to comment. I will listen to the people.”
She said that commissioners should be more courteous to the public.
“When I go to the meetings and speak before the county commission, they are on their phones or gazing out [with empty eyes]. That’s not receiving public comment,” Sharps said. “The only reason I am running is the commissioners weren’t listening. You could tell by the faces, their minds were made up. My husband finally said to me, ‘Are you going to run or fuss?’”
A victim of domestic abuse whose unborn child didn’t survive the ordeal, she ultimately became a counselor and a mentor to help herself and others. A professional grant writer, she has been following both career paths for more than 30 years, along with supporting outreach programs, helping feed the homeless and a litany of other community service commitments.
Sharps has also worked with Palm Beach County Water Utilities and other county agencies.
With a bachelor’s degree in business education and various courses of study at Palm Beach Atlantic University, Sharps has worked with the federal government on notable grants. Sharps said that she knows where the money is found.
“The Lake Region Water Treatment Plant that supplies water to the western part of the county was my project,” Sharps said. “It is a $58 million project, and I got $33 million in grant funding. We finished one month ahead of schedule and on budget.”
Sharps was surprised it took so long to get something done about the water supply in the Glades.
“When I first started, I found a federal report on the water in Lake Okeechobee that warned against bathing in it,” she said. “And people in four municipalities were drinking it!”
Sharps has run for the Palm Beach County Commission before. She lost a three-way Democratic primary in 2018 to now-Commissioner Gregg Weiss in District 2.
Sharps is a strong believer in term limits. “It gets young people involved,” she said.
About the other candidates running for the seat, Sharps said the area does not need another politician. This goes with her campaign, in which she calls herself a “peopletician,” rather than a politician.
“I respect strength and motivation, but these politicians sit on boards and work with PACs,” Sharps said. “I work with people. I will not just listen to developers or PACs. I will speak for all the people. That’s the oath you take.”
Learn more about Sharps by visiting www.facebook.com/ThePeopletician.
There is still a year before filing closes for the position. So far, Sharps is joined in the Democratic primary by Michelle McGovern and State Rep. Matt Willhite. Republican Sara Baxter has also filed paperwork to run. Primaries will be held Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, with the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.