Anneze Barthelemy Brings Vision of Affordability, Unity to Delray

3Anneze Barthelemy has worn many hats throughout her 23 years of public service. A passionate public advocate, she has served her community for more than two decades as a social worker, taking on the jobs of a primary therapist, housing case manager, and drug abuse counselor, among others. Now, Barthelemy aims to bring her experience to Seat 3 on the Delray Beach City Commission.

Barthelemy recalls her years of public service with pride. A Delray Beach resident of over 30 years, she obtained her bachelor’s in social work from Florida International University in 2000. She immediately set off to work as a FEMA Emergency Case Manager. After a brief stay in Miami to earn her master’s in social work from Barry University, she returned to Delray in 2011, where she has continued to be a fixture in the community.  

“In 2011, I moved back to Delray and again, started working, you know, as a primary therapist. I worked for Community Partners [and] Community Connections. I’ve worked for the Drug Abuse Foundation and am currently with Aware Recovery Care as a care coordinator lead.”

Barthelemy’s faith is central to her work. After getting her start working with Catholic Charities, Barthelemy worked as a chaplain and a spiritual facilitator for several church communities. She now owns a small business consulting for churches and ministries looking to build their social service agencies. In 2007, she founded the “biblically oriented” Rapha Family Services group in Delray to fight child abuse and maltreatment.

“And also I am a national trainer for parenting. I do a three day course training for facilitators who want to do the parenting classes. Let’s say a parent has their child in foster care, and before they can be reunited with their families, they have to do parenting classes. So I teach that course for the instructors. We get people that come from different states because it’s a nationally recognized evidence-based program.”

When the opportunity arose to run for Seat 3 on the Delray Beach City Commission, Barthelemy says she was motivated to “give a voice to the voiceless.”

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At the top of her list of priorities is affordability and low taxes. The issue is personal for Barthelemy, who began her career as a case manager for those at risk of losing their homes.

“We had a grant with FEMA Emergency Services, and let’s say the person is in the process of losing their homes. So we were trying to help them by providing financial assistance with first month, last month, and deposit. And then let’s say that there was a mortgage situation. We’d try to help them, connect them with resources if they need to refinance, and just walk them through the whole process.”

In recent years, Barthelemy says she has seen the cost of living in Delray explode, with many residents who have spent their lives in Delray now at risk of being priced out.

“We can see that Delray is getting a little bit overcrowded as far as you see. There’s new development on, for example, Swinton, there’s this giant development going on. So we want to make sure that we address any traffic situation [and] make sure that the people’s property taxes are not going to keep going up, where people can no longer afford to live in Delray.”

“Right now, as a social worker, for me to buy a property in Delray, I would probably not qualify. I would have to get like a co-signer. So we want to make sure that people who were raised in Delray can actually afford to live in Delray and work in Delray.”

Barthelemy also seeks to be a voice of reason on the Delray Commission, which she says has become divided and chaotic in recent years.

“From 2017 there’s been like a lot of chaos in the dais where people are like, at each other’s throat. And I believe as a clinician, as a therapist, I really think that I can bring a unifying voice and bringing unity and civility back to the city. So that really propelled me. I can make a difference when it comes to that.”

The cornerstone of Barthelemy’s vision is unity. She hopes to provide a voice to Delray residents who she says have been left out of the process for far too long. Her campaign is engaging with voters who are often underrepresented in the commission, such as blue-collar workers and members of the Haitian-American community who may struggle with language barriers.

“For example, I speak Creole. I know the Haitian community, sometimes they’re not really engaged, they don’t go to the city commission. Of course, you know, sometimes it’s a language barrier. So I think really being in the [commission] will allow me to represent not just my community, but of course the blue collar working families who may not have the time to go five o’clock to the city commission because they have to hurry up, prepare dinner for their kids, you know, who probably been home without any supervision.”

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Barthelemy credits her inspiration to her father, who worked for Delray Beach Parks and Recreation for over 20 years. That legacy of public service in her family, she says, is what motivates her to serve the working families of Delray.

“I want to make sure that the blue-collar [workers] are represented in the dais, and their concerns, their issues are really being addressed.”1

As for her supporters, Barthelemy says her campaign comes from the grassroots. While she may not boast as large of a war chest as some other candidates, Barthelemy says that is because she intends to represent the people—not developers and special interests.

“Sometimes people look at how much a candidate has raised before they actually put their faith, you know, whether to support that candidate. But I feel like people really should be looking at, you know, will this person really serve the people?”

“Like with their best interests, will they be looking out for the people’s best interests, and not necessarily, you know, maybe the developers or other groups, you know, and a special interest. So if they don’t see my account all puffed up, that’s because I’m here to represent the people, and it’s the people that are funding my campaign and not any special interest group.”

The Delray Beach City Commission election is scheduled for March 19. To learn more about Anneze Barthelemy’s campaign, visit her website.

Other stories you may want to read:

Delray Beach Poll Indicates Brutal Battle Ahead for Mayor’s Race

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