Fakhoury announces bid for mayor

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Posted June 30, 2021 | By Lisa McGinnes, Ocala Gazette

After three decades of serving the community on nonprofit boards and working with youth, women’s and civic groups, Manal Fakhoury wants to be the next Ocala mayor.

Fakhoury announced her intent to run on June 29.

“I love Ocala,” said the president and CEO of Fakhoury Leadership International and Vestech Partners. “I’m deeply invested in Ocala. I plan on living the rest of my days in Ocala. And I believe Ocala has even a higher potential. I love what we’ve been able to do in the last few decades that I’ve been in Ocala. But I believe that I have a skill set, a heart and a commitment to the city and I’d love to use my leadership skills to participate and to contribute.”

Fakhoury, the 2021 American Heart Association Heart Walk chair, curator of TedxOcala and president of Ollin Women International, cited homelessness and public safety as important topics the mayor can affect.

“I’ve seen, after each recession, homelessness rose across Ocala, and we’re watching the numbers right now rising again,” she said. “The mayor has to be the one to create long-term solutions helping folks get back on their feet and (getting them) the resources they need working with agencies that have been serving these populations. We need to be having a really good conversation about what their needs are and how we can work together to really find solutions and problem solve.”

The mayor also should ensure our community leads in the area of public safety, Fakhoury said.

“It’s important to have positive policing. Building and maintaining strong community relations across all of Ocala in a coordinated effort, we can fight crime and help the community. It starts with the recruitment, the training, the outreach. I believe, from my understanding, and what I’ve heard, is they are severely underpaid, and the police officers are overworked. In order for us to keep Ocala safe, we have to make sure we’re giving our officers raises, and we’re investing in our community through expanding successful crime reduction and community support programs and making sure they have the training they need.”

Bringing many voices together is one of her strengths, said Fakhoury, who belongs to the Rotary Club and Toastmasters International and serves on the YMCA executive board.

“Some of my uniqueness has to do with my ability to connect with people. If we create a culture of harmony and respect, and inclusion, then that’s how our community feels. I believe that we as a city have not reached our full potential,” she said.

Fakhoury, who holds Doctor of Pharmacy and MBA degrees, was the clinical coordinator at Ocala Health for 28 years. She and her husband, Dr. Riadh Fakhoury, owner of Fakhoury Medical and Chiropractic, moved to Ocala 34 years ago and raised five children here.

If elected, Fakhoury would “take zero from the city,” donating all compensation to charity, she said.

Fakhoury would face incumbent Mayor Kent Guinn in the Sept. 21 city election.

“I bring a new perspective. I say we can thank people who serve for a season, and then we allow new leaders to come in,” she said.


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