FAU professor running for Palm Beach office

Deandre Poole, communications professor and president of FAU’s chapter in the United Faculty of Florida, will take on Roderick Oliver Clarke in the general election on Nov. 8 for a seat in the Palm Beach County Commission.


Deandre Poole, a professor of communications at FAU, is running for Palm Beach County office. Photo courtesy of Poole

Sofia De La Espriella, Contributing Writer

As the general election in Florida gets closer, there is a professor from Florida Atlantic University running for public office.

Deandre Poole, communications professor and president of FAU’s chapter in the United Faculty of Florida, is running for a vacant seat in the Palm Beach County Port Commission. His main goal is to ensure the Port of Palm Beach remains the economic engine of the county. 

Poole defeated Varisa Dass in the Democratic primary election held in August. Poole garnered nearly 51% of the vote while Dass got 33%.

Poole will now face off against Republican nominee Roderick Oliver Clarke in the general election on Nov. 8. He thinks his expertise in the community and positive relationships with citizens and community leaders across the county will help him win. 

“I was born and raised in Pleasant City, West Palm Beach, Fla., and educated in Palm Beach County,” Poole said. “I have vested interest in an effective economy that provides jobs and services to the citizens in Palm Beach County. The Port is vital to the economy of Palm Beach County. I want to grow port revenue, create more local jobs, and for residents in the County.”

According to his FAU biography, Poole has over 15 years of higher education experience in communication education. He also has served in various civic, nonprofit, political, and academic leadership positions that focused on equality, social justice, advocacy, educational empowerment, and leadership development. 

“I know the community and I am from the community. I have worked hard to be an example for other young people who want to serve and give back to their community. Public service is an honorable profession and I want to use my leadership experiences to positively impact Palm Beach County,” Poole said.

The Port of Palm Beach is an independent special taxing district that was established in 1915. There is a Board of Commissioners with five seats that govern the port. Qualified electors within the Port of Palm Beach District elect each member for four-year terms by a district wide vote. 

The board serves as the legislative and policy-setting body for county government. According to Public Information Officer and Communications Specialist of the Port of Palm Beach Yaremi Farinas, commissioners set the policies that guide the development and operations of the port. 

“They hire an executive director and through him, they execute and conduct the day-to-day operations. The board makes the final decision on the big projects,” Farinas said. “They approve budgets once a year: 1. Capital improvement projects. 2. Operations budget. 3. Renew and replace budgets. They also decide whether or not to levy taxes on the residents of the district.” 

As the port is located in Riviera Beach City, commissioners work hand in hand with City Council members. Shanell Gordon, a legislative aide representing the third district of Riviera Beach, said they collaborate on various community projects for the benefits of residents in the surrounding area and even abroad. 

“The job of a council member is to balance the city’s budget, create policies, and decide on a land development plan,” said Gordon. 

The Port District is a subdivision of the state of Florida that currently supports 3,800 jobs and an additional 6,000 indirect jobs. This port is the fourth busiest container port out of Florida’s 14 deepwater container ports. More than $14 million worth of commodities move annually through the 165-acre port in Riviera Beach, generating $260 million in business revenue and $12 million in state and federal taxes.

Regarding the importance of the port’s health to the fiscal health of the county, Poole emphasized on the paradigm the COVID-19 pandemic created in today’s business models. 

“The Port of Palm Beach, as a vital component to the economy of Palm Beach County, continues to strive for operational efficiency; however, higher gas prices and inflation will put forth even more economic stress on the Port and its tenants,” Poole said. “I am running for the Port because I believe with the right leadership, the Port can overcome this period of economic stress and be put in a solid position to find additional opportunities for revenue growth and the creation of even more sustainable local jobs for the community.”

Sofia De La Espriella is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or message her on Instagram @sofidelaespriella