Wilton Manors voters have an easy choice for mayor when they vote on Nov. 6: Vice Mayor Justin Flippen.
Flippen, 40, has the experience, education and temperament needed to continue the progress this town of 12,000 residents has experienced over the last few decades.
Known as a place that welcomes LGBTQ residents, Wilton Manors has evolved from a nondescript blue-collar city to a thriving community with new businesses and rising property values. It needs a mayor like Flippen to continue its evolution.
Flippen’s challenger is 50-year-old Boyd Corbin, a passionate candidate who says he’s running for mayor “to end the corruption” in city government.
Corbin contends the water that Wilton Manors buys from Fort Lauderdale is polluted and over-priced, and that the city is funding exorbitant pay hikes by shifting money from the utility fund.
He says the narrowing of Wilton Drive from four to two lanes is “a big mistake” and that the police department has rogue members.
Corbin cites a personal experience as an example. He says that in 2012, he was accused of trying to light a drag queen on fire with a tiki torch in front of 1,000 people at a Halloween costume contest. The charge eventually was dropped, but Corbin says he’s had other unpleasant exchanges with the police since then.
He also said that he has sued the drag queen. A judge dismissed the suit, but Corbin said that he has appealed that ruling.
Flippen agrees with Corbin that Wilton Manors pays Fort Lauderdale too much for water and sewer services. He’s worried about Fort Lauderdale’s plans to revisit water rates, already increasing at 5 percent a year.
But that’s about the only issue the two agree on.
“The city did have Mr. Corbin’s water tested and it did meet state and federal guidelines,” Flippen said. “As for costs, absolutely, Fort Lauderdale charges our city way too much for water. How that is handled needs to be addressed. But claims of how we operate our water system — claims of theft or fiscal impropriety — don’t hold water, literally. We are reviewed every year. And every year we get a finding that we are in good fiscal health.”
Besides water rates, Flippen said the second most important issue facing the town is the potential loss of at least $300,000 in annual tax revenue if voters statewide approve an additional $25,000 homestead exemption in November.
He’d also like to see a greater diversity of business, beyond bars and sushi restaurants. A small hotel would be good, he said. He also notes the lack of a city parking garage, a crunch felt particularly on weekend nights. He said he’s open to pursuing a lease agreement that maximizes the city hall property.
As for the narrowing of Wilton Drive, Flippen said there’s “great support in the community.” He acknowledges the narrowing will pose challenges for businesses and motorists, but said there are ways to address those problems.
“The future is not vehicular traffic only. The future is about mobility,” Flippen said. “There’s not one resident that wants a thoroughfare in my city.”
Flippen said the town is in “good fiscal health,” and that City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson is “professional, responsive and a valuable asset to our city.”
Flippen was first elected to the commission in 2008, but resigned two years later to run for the Florida House against a representative considered to be anti-gay. He came up short. In 2014, he ran for the city commission again, successfully. In his campaign for mayor, he has a slew of endorsements, including that of current Mayor Gary Resnick.
Flippen has a bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University, where he was student body president in 2000. He also has a law degree from the University of Florida. He is the Tourism Project Manager for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Boyd said he makes a fine living renting out his house. “I have enough money so I won’t be tempted to accept kickbacks from developers, parking contractors, trash service providers, etc.,” he wrote in his questionnaire.
He said no person or organization has endorsed him.
Editorials are the opinion of the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board and written by one of its members or a designee. The Editorial Board consists of Editorial Page Editor Rosemary O'Hara, Andy Reid and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson.
SFGN and Sun Sentinel are media partners.