‘I think it’s time for a younger demographic who care about the community to serve, and I look forward to being a representative for the underserved,’ said local activist Maranda Douglass, who is running for Clearwater City Council Seat 4 in the upcoming Municipal Election in March.
BY J.A. JONES, Staff Writer
CLEARWATER – Local activist Maranda Douglas said she’d been encouraged by community members to take on a new task: running for Clearwater City Council Seat 4 in the March 2022 Municipal Election.
Her campaign recently announced that she had reached her petition goal in time to be officially qualified to be included on the ballot.
At the Maranda4Clearwater campaign kickoff, community change-maker Rose Angela Rudd shared how she met a young Douglas while running the Black Achievers program in the 2000s.
“I met Maranda, and I knew she had leadership in her. I do believe everyone is a leader, but not everybody chooses to develop their leadership. She showed me very quickly she was ready.”
The 31-year-old mother of a pre-schooler announced her candidacy, “I’m excited and uplifted by all the energy from the community. I think it’s time for a younger demographic who care about the community to serve, and I look forward to being a representative for the underserved.”
Douglas said her main priorities are encouraging small businesses, supporting underserved communities, protecting the environment, and creating sustainable practices and communities.
With a penchant for activism that started in her teens, Douglas shared how her recent work has been in underserved communities in Clearwater that didn’t receive the financial support or the resources that they needed “to take pride in that community.”
While working with FYI Community Partnership, Inc., Douglas organized and led the “Murals along MLK” and “Reclaim the Drain” storm drain mural projects to beautify the Clearwater neighborhoods of Lake Belleview and North Greenwood.
Douglas graduated from USF St. Petersburg Kate Tiedemann College of Business. Her interest in building sustainable communities led her to attain a certificate in Community Real Estate Development (CRED) through USF.
Through that program, she learned about ethical property development practices, the importance of preserving communities, and collaborating with residents. Her experiences stayed with her, and she noted, “I really want to give my community a chance to be heard and pick those resources that they need to become more like St. Petersburg and Tampa.”
“I feel like Clearwater is really behind the ball on creating a community culture,” she continued. “If we could listen to the community and really take a look at some of the concerns that they have, we could begin to build that culture and begin to build up that pride here.”
Douglas said St. Pete has “a really strong community around their local businesses,” which she said is lacking in Clearwater. “I’m seeing a lot of small businesses suffer from not only COVID but also just from lack of support from the city.”
She believes most of the Clearwater government’s focus has been on downtown and the beaches, and the small business owner wants to remind leadership that other communities in the city need attention.
“I would like to see Clearwater be a place where locals can thrive, where families can continue to engage in open and green spaces and have a sense of pride in community and network that we’re all aspiring for.”
As a mother of a four-year-old who doesn’t see herself moving from the area anytime soon, Douglas sees serving on the council as a way to help make positive change. “If I could at least be a representative for ‘the small guys’ and have a chance to be heard and have those extended conversations, I feel like I would continue to be a good steward of the community.”
Douglas believes it’s vital to have a council that includes a more significant number of people living in Clearwater and is committed to seeing the city be a better place for all residents.
As the owner of a small business called Top Nauts, Douglas decided to serve as a Clearwater Marine Advisory Board member. She’s heard community residents express concern on environmental issues, which Douglas also thinks about.
One of those is education on how to boat more safely. “We have a large population of turtles that do nesting here as well as manatees — and red tide lingered around for a couple of weeks longer than we anticipated,” which, Douglas mused, could have been a result of the Piney Island oil spill.
She added that ended the Clearwater Offshore boat races followed up right on the heels of red tide. “And so even though I enjoyed the boat races personally, I did think about we were not being proactive about protecting our environment and making sure that the marine life wasn’t displaced during that time.”
Douglas said that’s another conversation she would like the city to have. “We have ocean allies here, but we haven’t really found a way to work together so that we are all on the same page with protecting our environment.
“Because that is what draws people here to Clearwater — our beaches and our green spaces, but if we aren’t making sure that we are protecting them, eventually they’re going to be obsolete. We’re going to fall even further behind on creating a city that represents a leader in environmental stewardship.”
You can learn more about Maranda Douglas and her campaign at Maranda4Clearwater.com.