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Shane Taylor sworn in as Oakland's new mayor

"I look forward to delivering on the change of priorities I pushed so heavily during my campaign."

Shane Taylor swears to uphold the U.S. Constitution, Florida Statute and the provisions of the Oakland Charter to become Oakland's new mayor on March 26, 2024. Photo: Norine Dworkin/VoxPopuli

Shane Taylor, the Oakland underdog candidate who mobilized a grassroots campaign for change, was sworn in Tuesday as the town’s first duly elected mayor in 20 years. His term runs through March 2028. 

A capacity crowd packed the Oakland Meeting Hall to watch the brief ceremony, with latecomers lining the walls. 

Outgoing mayor Kathy Stark, in her final official act, administered the oath of office. Stark

served as mayor for nearly 20 years. She was a commissioner for 10 years prior to that.

“I want to say something," Stark said before starting the short ceremony. “The town is going to be in good hands. I am very happy to turn this office over to Shane. So, I look forward to watching him —”  She paused.

“Blossom?” Shane asked playfully as the crowd erupted in laughter.

Taylor swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, the laws of Florida and the provisions of the town charter. He then received a standing ovation as the crowd cheered, whistled, whooped and clapped for their new mayor. A few Sal-Ramos supporters sat stony-faced in the back.

Oakland Mayor Shane Taylor embraces former Mayor Kathy Stark after taking the oath of office on March 26, 2024. Photo: Andrea Charur/VoxPopuli

Taylor thanked his family and his circle of friends and volunteers who worked on his campaign, but he had special words for Oakland’s voters:

“You made your collective voice heard in a big way, both through early voting and Election Day, that you were ready for change. I thank you for participating in this most special freedom. I look forward to delivering on the change of priorities I pushed so heavily during my campaign. 

“I'd be remiss if I didn't recognize those who did not turn out to support me. I understand that change can be difficult, but you have my commitment that I'll work hard on your behalf and do so with the greatest of intentions.”

Taylor also acknowledged the toll the divisive election took on the small town’s social foundations, “expos[ing] vulnerable cracks and how neighbors were treated.” 

Indeed, during the campaign season friendships faltered over candidate choices. VoxPopuli heard from people who reported being berated publicly for choosing one candidate over another. Supporters of both candidates posted harsh words on social media; there were unfounded accusations of wrongdoing; unverified claims of racism surfaced in the Facebook group We Are Oakland; residents found themselves banned from the group or very publicly quit over rights of expression issues.

“We all bear responsibility in building the community we want to see and live in, raise our families and grandchildren in. And that means knowing when we've hurt our neighbors with words, assumptions or actions," Taylor continued. "If this resonates with you, I would encourage you to make peace. It will be good for you, for them and for the town we love so much.” 

Kathy Stark walking
Former Oakland Mayor Kathy Stark leaves Oakland Meeting Hall after passing the gavel to Shane Taylor. Photo: Norine Dworkin/VoxPopuli

Next, Taylor turned to the three commissioners sitting at the table behind him — all of whom openly supported Sal Ramos’ campaign. He nodded to sharing common ground, but his point was unmistakable: A 64.5 percent win is a mandate. 

“Change is hard. Pride has been hurt, but you cannot ignore that change is insistent by residents,” he said. “We must put aside any differences we may have. Agendas and loyalties that won't yield productive outcomes for the betterment of our town have to take a backseat. 

“It's our greatest importance that we come together to shepherd this great town of ours to its fullest potential. I hope I have your promises that will achieve all of this.”

Vice Mayor Mike Satterfield, who had phoned Taylor to urge him to let Ramos be mayor while he took the open commissioner's seat Ramos vacated, nodded in agreement.

Lastly, Taylor urged residents who had gotten involved with the election to stay involved and not become “complacent in how things are done.” 

“This is your town," he said. "You have the power to guide it. We on the commission here, are helmsman. You are our navigators. Help us set the course on where this town is to go.”


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