In Wilton Manors, it is democracy in its purest form.
Seven candidates are vying for two seats on the city commission and three candidates are seeking the mayor’s office.
The Island City has a population of just over 12,000 inside of 1.9 square miles. It is home to beautifully remodeled houses, restaurants, shops, parks and one of the hottest gay nightlife scenes in South Florida.
Mayor Gary Resnick, 54, is attempting to hold off two challengers in November’s election. He has served as mayor since 2008 and was a commissioner for 10 years prior. The mayor has collected a slew of major association endorsements from police and firefighters unions to realtors and equality groups.
“I’m always going to make sure our neighborhoods are our first priority,” Resnick said. “Wilton Manors is a wonderful community. We are leaders nationwide.”
Challengers Doug Blevins and Boyd Corbin are perhaps best known for their roles in the city’s Halloween block party, Wicked Manors. Blevins, 56, a realtor and home designer served as director of the Wilton Manors Main Street program and helped organize the Halloween party which has grown into one of the most popular South Florida social events.
“Having produced events in Wilton Manors, one of my goals is to continue to make the city more beautiful and safe,” Blevins said.
Blevins noted that his support is at the ground level.
“Ninety percent of my contributions are from real people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Corbin, 46, is awaiting trial on felony charges of attacking a drag performer at the 2012 Halloween party. Corbin was dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan during his altercation with the Dame Edna performer. He has pushed forth a platform of taking the city’s parking meter contract in-house and adding surveillance cameras to Colohatchee Park.
Meanwhile, in the commission race, there are two incumbents: Scott Newton and Ted Galatis.
Newton, 57, has received the endorsement of Equality Florida, the largest state-wide organization dedicated to securing equal rights for the LGBT community. He is a 30-year business owner, Broward County native and has served as Wilton Manors Mayor from 2004-2008. Newton describes his campaign as “grass roots.”
“We are moving forward and making sure Wilton Manors is an innovative place to live,” he said. Newton said he is interested in adding more bicycle paths and proudly noted the city did not fire one employee during the economic downturn.
Ted Galatis, 60, has served on the commission since 2002. A native of Broward County, Galatis made national headlines when he admitted to using the N-word during a road rage incident in June. Galatis, an attorney, apologized for the incident and continues to serve as the chair of the Broward County Human Rights Board.
“It was the worst thing that has happened in my life,” Galatis said. “I am not that kind of person.”
Galatis said property values are on the rise in Wilton Manors and people can trust his leadership, adding “I can build a consensus on the commission.”
Five candidates are also seeking a commission post. They are: Sal Torre, Lillie Harris, Justin Flippen, Naomi Ruth Parker and Christopher Warnig.
Flippen, 36, is campaigning on his 16 years of public service at the federal, state and local levels. He says he has a “connectedness” to Wilton Manors that goes back to his youth.
“I grew up here and I am fully invested in this city’s future,” Flippen said.
An attorney, who currently serves as Tourism Project Manager for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, Flippen said he has a “tool box” to bring with him to get the job done, adding “I am not at odds with any of the other commissioners or candidates.”
Parker, 61, has raised a family in Wilton Manors and is proud to see it become a city her children can come home to. “The residents here are so diverse, much more than when I moved here 20 years ago.”
As a gay black woman, Parker said the city has a lot to offer and she will work hard to continue to strengthen its schools, library system and social services. “You can count on me as a good neighbor,” Parker said.
Torre, 52, is a food service supervisor in Broward County and wears many hats in Wilton Manors. He serves as president of the Westside Neighborhood Association, one of three neighborhood associations in the city and is a member of the Wilton Manors budget advisory committee. This is Torre’s second attempt at a commission seat. He placed third in 2012.
“I’m very optimistic,” Torre said. “My campaign team is out walking the neighborhoods and getting the message out.”
Harris is a former Miami police officer with 25 years law enforcement experience. She said she understands the mayor’s role and is focused on green friendly business.
Warnig, a security guard at George’s Alibi on Wilton Drive, could not be reached for comment.
Early voting in Wilton Manors began Monday at City Hall. Polls open at 9 a.m. The general election is Nov. 4.