As COVID-19’s devastating impact on our economy continues with no end in sight, this past Labor Day Holiday witnessed many residents of our Island City struggling to get by and unemployed.

Labor Day, a tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength and prosperity if our nation, now stands as a gutted and hollow remnant as more Americans find themselves out of work since the Great Depression.  

While millions of Americans worried this past weekend about school for their children, unemployment, money for food and healthcare our president played golf and Rich Mitch along with his gang of Republican leaders raced home to enjoy their late summer recess before extending unemployment benefits for American families.  

Thankfully our city, along with the Broward County Commission, has been a bit more concerned about residents in this time of need. Wilton Manors continues to support the much-needed food distribution event each and every Thursday at Mills Pond Park along with the cities of Fort Lauderdale and Oakland Park. Broward County has unveiled numerous programs aimed at helping residents with rental assistance, business assistance and other necessary measures. All this hard work while also being in a state of readiness during the peak of hurricane season deserves our thanks and gratitude for a job well done.  Area non-profits are also stepping up helping needy families and residents of our Island City. Volunteers and donations are always needed and one can go to the city’s website to find out more information.  

Now that September is well underway, my annual warning that the Holiday Season is just around the corner comes with a much different meaning this year. As events continue to be canceled with each tear of another page off my daily calendar, the uncertainty of the next few months leading up to the New Year is full of much unknown and much anxiety.   

One thing for sure is that we will be celebrating the upcoming Holiday Season without the usual celebrations at work, church, school and socially with friends and family as we move through what would normally be an exciting and busy three months leading up to the end of the year holiday season.  

With many of us not venturing out to a restaurant or bar with friends since the beginning of March, without having traveled to see family and aging parents, without work or the possibility of finding employment for the foreseeable future, many in our community are struggling to make sense of it all.  

The upcoming election might be a good time to vent your frustrations. Republicans, Democrats and Independents, you have the opportunity to make your frustrations heard by overwhelmingly rejecting the failed leadership of Donald Trump.  

Speaking of elections, residents of our Island City can hear from all municipal candidates on Sept. 23 beginning at 7 p.m. when the three neighborhood associations of Wilton Manors host their virtual Candidates Forum. The three candidates for the Office of Mayor and the six candidates for two City Commission seats have all been invited to participate. Many local issues affecting the future of our community will be discussed during the forum. Information on how to access this very important meeting will be sent out through the neighborhood association’s membership, city email blasts, social media and other sources. Be on the look-out and mark your calendar for this very important event.  

Driving around town, one begins to notice the campaign signs showing up at various properties around town. Not sure how many candidates got permission from the property or business owners before placing their signage down. Two large campaign signs for Mayor posted on the old Science of the Mind Church property, located on NE 26th Street, has me a bit amused and frustrated. Both candidates were City Commissioners back in 2016 when a spectacular residential development was scrapped due to a Commissioner’s opposition.  

Four years later the property remains undeveloped, deteriorating and an enormous loss of tax revenue for our city. Then City Commissioners Julie Carson and Scott Newton voted to limit the number of units causing the developer no alternative but to pull the project.  

One of those two candidates will most likely now become our new mayor after Election Day. Let us hope they have listened, learned and are ready to make the tough decisions necessary to bring smart development to our city. Along with a new mayor we will also have two new City Commissioners, so do your homework and VOTE! 

Good news on the renaming of Jaycee Park to honor our late mayor, Justin Flippen. The first of two Public Hearings was held tonight at City Commission with many residents voicing support. At times emotions spilled out in the open, a testament of how strongly many residents, staff and elected officials support memorializing Justin’s legacy.  

Working together, adapting to the new realities that challenge us and always looking towards tomorrow, while remembering those who got us to where we are today will continue to make life just better here…

Sal Torre has been a columnist for the Wilton Manors Gazette since its inception. Sal has served on the Wilton Drive Task Force, Budget Review Advisory Board, and Charter Review Board, among others. Sal is currently President of the Westside Association of Wilton Manors and Secretary for the Friend of the Wilton Manors Library. He is employed with Broward County in the Human Services Division.