Hawthorne mayor receives Home Rule Hero Award

Matt Surrency after receiving the Home Rule Hero Award from Jeff Branch, Tara Taggart and Mary Edenfield.
Matt Surrency after receiving the Home Rule Hero Award from Jeff Branch, Tara Taggart and Mary Edenfield.

Hawthorne Mayor Matt Surrency received the 2021 Home Rule Hero Award from the Florida League of Cities (FLC) for advocating local issues in the state government.

In a phone interview, Surrency said he was excited to get the award even though it wasn’t a surprise to him, because he has received it for the past several years.

“It’s an honor every year to receive it just because I don’t take any recognition lightheartedly,” Surrency said.

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He said the award shows engagement from not only himself but the entire community. Still, it’s largely due to Surrency’s high level of involvement at the state level over the past year.

All of Hawthorne’s city commissioners focus on different issues and advocacy. Surrency said he just tends to focus on the state government, making sure issues that local citizens want solved locally can be solved locally.

“I think that’s our biggest focus: having that ability to allow our constituents to tell us what they want and then us to put that in place without having to go ask the state and federal government how to do that,” Surrency said.

He said it’s important for people to get involved at all levels of government and to know what issues are happening.

“I think Mayor Surrency is a great representative for home rule and a great example of what localities can do when you let us do it,” Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe said in a phone interview.

Surrency and Marlowe’s paths crossed as elected officials around a decade ago.

“He’s just a genuinely nice guy who cares about his city, cares about his people and wants to do right by them,” Marlowe said, adding that FLC “hit the nail on the head” with the award to Surrency.  

The FLC hands out 100 Home Rule Hero Awards each year to elected and non-elected community leaders who reach out to the state level to advocate for local municipalities.

“These local officials went above and beyond during the 2021 legislative session,” said Casey Cook, the FLC director of legislative affairs. “They made an extraordinary effort, were actively engaged and highly effective in their advocacy efforts.

Hawthorne elected Surrency the city commissioner in 2009. He became mayor in 2011 and has run unopposed the last two election cycles.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comments from Jordan Marlowe. 

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