FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 10, 2018
Contact: Marcos Miralles,
Chairman, Libertarian Party of Florida
Councilwoman, Coconut Grove Village Council
MIAMI – A legacy of social activism and community involvement led Coconut Grove Village Councilwoman Courtney Omega to join the growing ranks of Florida’s elected Libertarian Party officials this week.
Omega says she changed her party from Republican because she found a community of support and inclusion, rather than being taken for granted.
“When I ran for this position that I serve in now I met a few of the Libertarian Party members,” says Omega. “It was just a breath of fresh air. It didn’t seem like they did politics the same way I was used to doing politics. I appreciated how I was encouraged but I wasn’t beaten down. I appreciated how I was part of the conversation not just an expectation.”
Omega was elected to the Coconut Grove Village Council last November. She is founder and executive director of Golden and Golden Gates Foundation which conducts youth programs and professional seminars. Omega, 40 works as an insurance agent and journalist. She also prepares faith-based cultural arts curriculum for local youth. Omega has two children, Neyanni Turner, 11 and Keonne Turner, 9.
A POLITICAL LEGACY
Omega knows political activism: it’s in the family blood. Omega’s grandmother was the esteemed Yvonne Scarlett-Golden, Daytona Beach’s first African American mayor. Scarlett-Golden, a Bethune-Cookman honors graduate, was a four-term city commissioner and two-term mayor before her death in 2005 at age 80.
Omega says her parents and many of her aunts and uncles were all active in private and public social services, so civic and social involvement was both the family’s vocation and avocation.
“So, we were not the typical family at that time, and surely not now. Our conversations at dinnertime were not ‘What did you do at school today?’ they were ‘What type of protest did you take part?’,” she says with an easy laugh.
After graduating from Mainland High School (two years behind NBA star Vince Carter she proudly notes,) Omega attended Florida A&M and Florida State Universities before leaving the state to pursue a career in community organizations, including the National School and Community Corps in Philadelphia where she was an English tutor and dance choreographer. She returned to Florida in 2012.
A POLITICAL JOURNEY
It is perhaps not a surprise that she spent most of her political life as a registered Democrat. Yet Omega says she changed to Republican about two years ago while she focused on her growing business. But when she decided to run for Coconut Grove Village Council, she found her adopted party’s political support was not there.
“During the campaign process I just got no support from the GOP, and I thought that was very weird because here I was, a young African American, a woman, so I thought hey, there should be some more interest or buy in there,” she says.
Omega adds she also felt no encouragement when she was a Democrat. “During the time I was a Democrat, I did nothing but vote. I was never approached to run. It was just ‘Hey, your vote is appreciated but not necessarily your inclusion; but your vote is definitely important! ‘ “
Omega discovered Libertarians were different. While campaigning, Omega says she met Libertarian Party Chairman Marcos Miralles and other local members and immediately found them welcoming.
“They would absolutely reach across those lines and say ‘Hey, Courtney has some good ideas and we plan on sharing them once she is on the Board.’ I came to understand this would be more ‘So, like I am included in the conversation and not necessarily just being propped up and being told what to say.’ I always appreciated the confidence they extended towards me throughout the campaigning process. It really made, because this was my first political run, it really made that run a whole lot more affable.’ “
A PATH TO THE FUTURE
Omega says the Libertarian Party has much to offer to the growing number in the African American community who feel disenfranchised from their historic Democratic affiliation.
“For so long, we’ve been told to kind of be a part,” Omega says. “The key word is being told. But to actually have the confidence and have the influence and have the encouragement to actually be a part of that, to actually become an elected official, is very rare particularly in the Democratic Party. You’re good enough to be a prop at holding up a sign, but as far as being part of it, it’s different.”
“You know, there’s an African proverb: ‘They have no word for try. You either do or you don’t. That’s where the encouragement comes from; that’s where the confidence is built. When you can say to someone ‘You know what? I think you can do this, you deserve a seat at this table. How many African Americans, 20, 30 years old, would say ‘Wow, do you really think so?’ It creates a totally different conversation as opposed to ‘Hey are you registered to vote?’ ”
By J. Mark Barfield, Staff Writer
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