On September 1, 2021, Miramar commissioners approved the appointment of Jamaican Whittingham Gordon to oversee the city’s daily operations. Gordon, a 30-year resident and 26-year employee of Miramar, took over from Vernon Hargray in November as the new city manager, becoming the first Jamaican ever to hold this position. He previously had the role of deputy city manager.
Miramar is the 13th largest city in Florida, the fourth-largest, and one of the most diverse in Broward County. Forty percent of the population was born outside the US, and it has the largest concentration of Jamaican residents, at 15 percent. This concentration of Jamaicans makes it the fifth highest in the United States. The makeup of the city commission reflects the density of Jamaicans, where every member has heritage relating to the Caribbean Island.
Rooted in Jamaica, grown in Miramar
Whittingham Gordon was born in Boscobel, St. Mary, about thirty miles east of Ocho Rios, Jamaica. He started his high school at Oracabessa High before migrating to the USA in the ninth grade.
Gordon started his responsibility with a budget of $323,035,991, managing 1,135 employees and supervising several departments, including water and sewage, public works, police, and fire. He also plays a pivotal role in the redevelopment of the eastern end of Miramar as the city continues to grow in population and business. Currently, the municipality is the fifth-highest employer in the town, behind giants such as Comcast, Strayer University, Royal Caribbean, and Memorial Hospital.
But significant responsibilities and hard work are not new to Gordon. After his honorable discharge from the US Army, he spent four years working for Miami/Dade County’s water and sewer, building, and zoning departments.
He transitioned to Miramar in 1995, where he became the first Jamaica-born engineering inspector, a position he held for 13 years. During his tenure with the Engineering Department, he oversaw land development projects at the height of the construction boom, when Miramar gained recognition as the fastest-growing city in the county.
His next move was to the utility department as assistant director, where he instituted many new programs and services. His Smart Water Meter project and the Building Energy Management Systems projects won the National Smart 50 Awards by the Smart City Connect Foundation.
Big plans for Miramar
Gordon still has big plans for Miramar, despite the ongoing pandemic. He assured residents that they should maintain their expectations of a well-run city.
He is also looking to expand on the work-life environment at the municipal complex. The ground has already broken for ‘Manor at Miramar.’ It will include 393 rental apartments and 26,500 square feet of retail space on the eight-story complex, formerly the parking lot in front of City Hall. The project should cost about $110 million. Gordon will also have responsibility for the 120 senior affordable housing units on the 2.3-acre former public safety building site. In the works also is a state-of-the-art soccer training facility on city lands near Everglades High School and Glades Middle School.
It’s still too early for Miramar residents to judge the success of Gordon as the sixth city manager. But one thing is for sure — he has already made history. He has assured residents and leaders: “Don’t worry about a thing,” one of his favorite songs from the legendary reggae icon, Bob Marley.