I was born in South Carolina in the 1970's, the firstborn to Andy & Sue Smoak. My dad served in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam stationed in the North Atlantic. My mother registered to vote for the first time after I was born while Jimmy Carter was President. She instilled in me the importance of participating in the electoral process, often taking my brother and me with her to vote.
My family roots are deep in the American south except for my maternal grandfather, who came from Brooklyn. He met my grandmother at Fort Gordon in Augusta, GA before being sent to Europe in WWII.
My formative years were in the 80's and 90's.
I am proudly Generation X, the bridge generation between analog and digital.
I am happily married to my high school sweetheart, Michael. We met in South Carolina in 1992 when we were in the tenth grade. We both graduated from University of South Carolina - Aiken and were married in 1999. We made a decision early in our marriage to do everything we could to become a one income family so I could eventually stay home with our children. We left South Carolina moving to Kansas City, MO, for a job opportunity in 2002. We bounced around a bit for different opportunities before landing and settling in South Florida at the end of 2004. It was not always easy, but eventually we made half of our dream a reality.
We never thought having children would be the hard part. Infertility is among the cruelest and most isolating issues a couple can endure. It takes years of your life trying, only to spend many more years to recover, reassess and rebuild. In our case, we went through it all very quietly because it was too painful to have the same conversation over and over. "We have four-legged children! Haha!" became our go-to answer for the near constant question about when we would have kids during our 20's and 30's...
The recovery was not just mental and emotional. In my case it was very much physical. IVF treatments damaged my body and left me in a multi-year's long chronic migraine cycle. I finally found a neurologist who helped determine the right treatment plan and gave me my life back. My husband stood by me through it all and for that I am forever grateful.
We endured, not without scars, but they make us the Woodward's.
By 2019 I had achieved my somewhat altered American Dream. My husband's work territory encompassed South Florida up to the Space Coast and much of the Caribbean. He traveled during the week, so I was his right-hand woman at the home office. I handled much of his correspondence, quotes, submittals, etc. for customers, so that when he came home, we had time to do what he was working for, live. We felt we had arrived, and life was good. We were living our version of success.
Then 2020 hit, impacting everyone in different ways. No matter where you stood on the issue of "pandemic response," the outcome has become clear. We are all paying the consequences of prolonged bad political decisions. The world should not stop because of a single respiratory virus. Those in power made decisions on everything based on a single issue, and now the bill is due.
My home, community, favorite shops, restaurants, and parks make this place amazing. I've watched sadly for over two years as we all try to recover. It pains me to think that some were able to navigate successfully, others not. Our community is worth restoring and preserving. Those of us who remember the "before" understand and yearn for the potential of our slice of paradise.
And like any post-crisis response, we as a community must work together to repair what is broken. We have work to do and we must work together - all of us.
Though weekly calls from real estate agents asking to list our house are the new norm, I am not leaving. It will take an act of congress (I mean this figuratively) to take me away from Palm Beach County.
In Florida, we live in a protected bubble thanks to our governor's early efforts to reopen our economy. But let's not kid ourselves, living in the "Free State of Florida" while Palm Beach County commissioners and administrators spent their efforts hyper-focused on keeping us closed, masked, and distanced " for our protection" is still a bitter pill to swallow.
However bad the decisions of the last two years, they are not the only reason we find ourselves with inflation, broken supply chains, material, labor & food shortages, an affordable housing crisis, an aging population in need of assistance, and a younger generation lacking a sense of purpose. Becoming part of a global community takes away the ability to sustain ourselves when it matters. We must ask ourselves what role we, as citizens, have played and how it can be can fixed. I believe in my community and I know if we work together each of us can get back to the job of creating the life of our dreams.
I am asking you to join me in the mission of saving PBC. We do not need anyone from the federal government to rescue us. We are a strong, capable community living in this beautiful area prone to dangerous acts of nature, but we stay, we prepare, and when it really matters, we pull together. Why? Because we care about our neighbors. We are PBC.
Let's invest our time, energy, focus and creativity in what matters: fortifying the people, businesses, schools, and resources of PBC.
Lola, Zoey, Pepper & Harvey
I knew Palm Beach County would be my forever home the first time I visited Boca Raton in 2005. We worked hard and made sacrifices to create and live our American Dream, until 2020...
I love my slice of paradise and will fight to fortify it for all!
The past two+ years have exposed many issues at local, state and federal levels. Even while most of Florida reopened, Palm Beach County was held back. This showed me who can have the most power to affect my life; LOCAL officials. I am guilty of not paying enough attention to local politics. Those days are over. We must take care of ourselves and our fellow Palm Beach County citizens FIRST!!
I now understand the necessity of being involved in local politics. For "we the people" to maintain our freedom, we must stay engaged and vigilant. I am running because this is my home and too many voices were disregarded and ignored. We must work together to protect our ability to build and maintain the lives we choose without over-reaching government interference.