FAU professor celebrates first electoral victory for local office

Deandre Poole, a communications professor and president of FAU’s chapter for the United Faculty of Florida, won against Republican nominee Roderick Oliver Clarke for a seat in the Port of Palm Beach Board of Commissioners.


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

Mary Rasura, Staff Writer

After two defeats in 2020 for supervisor of elections and 2021 for the West Palm Beach City Commission, Deandre Poole is celebrating his first electoral victory for the Group 5 seat on the Port of Palm Beach Board of Commissioners.

Poole, a communications professor and president of Florida Atlantic University’s chapter for the United Faculty of Florida, ran as a Democrat and won with 50.6% of the votes over Republican nominee Roderick Oliver Clarke during Election Day on Nov. 8.

He is known nationally for a classroom exercise where he had students write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper and stomp on it in 2013. The exercise came out of a textbook called “Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach” and was meant to teach students about symbolism.

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.

In the commission, Poole will be making decisions on behalf of 3,800 jobs and an additional 6,000 indirect jobs in 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.

Poole celebrated his victory via Facebook thanking the 75,523 people who voted for him. 

“Every vote counts! I am humbled to serve as your next Port Commissioner,” he wrote on his campaign page.

Poole supports people getting involved in politics, as his persistence in running for office paid off.

“[For] every American citizen by serving the public and sometimes serving in public office, I think if you’re passionate about people, a mission about serving your community in public office is one of those ways [to contribute to society],” Poole said. “[The election win] was a result of hard work, knocking on doors, calling people, [and] waving signs on the street corners.”

Poole also has support from his fellow colleagues at UFF-FAU, as the chapter’s secretary and English instructor Kathleen Moorhead is “thrilled” about his win. 

“I think he’s very confident and he will do an excellent job. I think the voters made an excellent choice,” Moorhead said.

Journalism professor Aaron Veenstra echoes this sentiment, complementing Poole’s ability to be involved in local politics and to have strong connections within the community. 

“He’s been involved in local politics in the city of West Palm Beach and in Palm Beach County for a long time. In fact, for the first time that I met him after I came to FAU, he was doing an event as a candidate for Supervisor of Elections back in 2019,” Veenstra said. “He’s somebody who’s not just well-connected but knows the local landscape well, and I think will do a really good job on that commission.” 

Mary Rasura is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email maryarasura@gmail or DM her on Instagram @maryrasura