County Commissioner Robin Fisher Relishes Turning Challenges Into Chances
County Commissioner Robin Fisher relishes turning challenges into chances
By Rolanda Hatcher-Gallop
For Ebony News Today
“Growing up, my parents taught us to always try as much as you can, and to always do as well as you can,” says Fisher, the youngest of four children. “Then, having good sports and football coaches helped to drive home the lesson.”
The message first clicked when he was a 15-year-old paperboy for Florida Today in the mid-70s (also known back then as the Today newspaper). His route manager told him about a subscription contest being administered by the newspaper’s parent company, Gannett, with the top prize of a trip to San Diego, Calif.
“Back then, you went door to door to sell subscriptions, and with the contest, we just all started walking door to door to sign up folks for the paper,” Fisher recalls.
He won by a landslide of new subscriptions.
“I think I just outworked everybody,” he chuckles, adding that it was then he realized the power of commitment and hard work. “I did as well as I could and it paid over. I remember getting on the plane and flying out to San Diego, and most of the winners from other papers were much older than me.”
The message steeled his resolve when coaches told Fisher that he was too small to play defensive lineman on the Satellite High School football team. He not only proved them wrong, but also excelled enough to secure an athletic scholarship to the University of Florida when he graduated from Satellite High in 1978.
While earning a bachelors degree in Public Relations, Fisher also set a UF record as the only defensive lineman to lead the entire Gator defensive team for most tackles in one season.
The record still holds today.
He was then drafted by the Miami Dolphins and went on to play professional football in the United States Football League (USFL) before eventually settling down as a commercial realtor in Palm Bay with his wife, Rhoda, and their two children, Cara and Cody.
That’s where Fisher first got involved in city politics.
“I had a real estate deal that went before the Palm Bay City Council and I didn’t agree with the ruling. Somebody challenged me to do a better job governing the city, and I ran for office,” he says, adding that he was around 27 years old at the time.
He won the seat in 1987, becoming one of the first African-Americans to hold office in the growing city. However, he resigned just two years later after being offered the change to be at the helm of a State Farm Insurance agency in Titusville.
“I enjoyed living and working in Palm Bay, and had worked hard to get elected there, but this was an opportunity I could not turn down, even though it meant moving to Titusville,” Fisher recalls.
He spent the next decade raising his children, building his business and volunteering with the YMCA, serving two terms as chairman of the Central Florida YMCA Board, which includes six counties and 26 locations. In addition, he led the fundraising campaign for the Brevard County YMCA and helped raise $2.5 million toward the construction of the Titusville YMCA Family Center on Park Avenue.
Fisher eventually stepped into politics when he served out a six-month vacated city council seat in Titusville before running and winning the seat for two more years.
When the county commission seat opened up, Fisher defied the odds again by winning the District 1 seat in 2008, even though he was told it was nearly impossible because he was a Democrat and not the candidate favored to win.
He went on to serve as Vice-Chair of the commission in Nov. 2009, and Chair in 2011. Fisher was re-elected in Nov. 2012 and is currently serving as Chair.
During his time in office, Fisher spearheaded the creation of the North Brevard Economic Development Zone, a revitalization plan approved in July 2011 by the County Commission and Titusville City Council. The zone, which stretches from State Road 520 north to the Volusia County line, is designed to spur on job growth and economic development in North Brevard.
Fisher also currently chairs the board of directors for the Brevard County Field of Dreams, a multi-sport park for individuals with special needs. Although located outside of his district, Fisher says he was happy to be a part of the West Melbourne-area project.
“The facility is designed for children with special needs to be able to play and just be themselves. The goal is to make a difference in the lives of these children, and I think we succeeded with this park,” he says.
Now in the last year of his eight-year tenure on the County Commission, Fisher hopes to see several other projects get off the ground before he leaves office. However, he admits that he is looking forward to focusing more of his attention on his business and family.
But don’t count him out when it comes to seeking another stint in public office.
“I don’t have the word ‘quit’ as part of my vocabulary; I just wasn’t raised that way,” Fisher says.
“For the last eight years, I’ve ran really hard trying to make a difference for the residents in Brevard County. I plan to continue that in the private sector as well.”