Municipal officials recently met in Orlando for the Florida League of Cities (FLC) 97th Annual Conference.

“I have been attending FLC conferences since I was elected in 2016, and each year, I walk away with new knowledge and new friendships,” said Outgoing FLC President Jolien Caraballo.

FLC officers were elected:

  • Cooper City Mayor Greg Ross as President
  • Cocoa Mayor Michael Blake as First Vice President
  • Sanibel Councilmember Holly D. Smith as Second Vice President.

City officials were honored for their dedication and hard work:

  • Smith was awarded the Harris Drew Municipal Official Lifetime Achievement Award, the League’s highest honor.
  • Mindy Gibson, Councilwoman for the City of Satellite Beach, was presented with the Common Grounds Advocate Award. This new award recognizes a municipal leader who has shown commitment to building relationships with state lawmakers to support the League’s Legislative Platform.
  • Senator Debbie Mayfield, Florida District 19, received the League’s Defender of Home Rule Award, given to legislators who go above and beyond to support local decision-making.
  • The conference celebrated nearly 150 Home Rule Heroes for their work during the 2023 Legislative Session. (See the list at
  • FLC recognized 35 local elected officials with the John Land Years of Service Award for their 20-45 years of municipal service. (See the list in the 2023 membership issue of Quality Cities magazine that will be posted at
  • Officials received certificates from the Certificate Program for Elected Municipal Officials hosted by FLC University. (For information, visit

The Opening General Session kicked off with National League of Cities (NLC) President Victoria Woodards, Mayor of the City of Tacoma, WA. Political analysts and husband-and-wife duo John Avlon and Margaret Hoover then discussed how to disagree agreeably. In the Second General Session, artificial intelligence (AI) pioneer Kevin Surace educated attendees on AI and how it affects local government.

At the past presidents’ luncheon, Ross shared his Serving Our Cities focus for the year. Serving Our Cities has three pillars: intentional collaboration, expanded education and respectful public service. “Together, we will positively shape the future of the cities we serve,” said Ross.

In her closing speech, Caraballo reflected on her Finding Common Grounds initiative. “I’m profoundly grateful for your dedicated efforts that turned this vision into reality,” she said. “I look forward to standing by your side in the coming years, advocating passionately for our cities and tirelessly safeguarding Home Rule, and continuing common ground conversations with lots of cups of Cuban coffee.”

Many workshop presentations are available at