Wilton Manors elections have burst out of the starting gate and are off and running here in our Island City.
Seems a bit early for November elections, but many are champing at the bit to begin the race towards a victorious finish line comes Election Day.
Mayor Scott Newton was the first to announce his re-election bid for mayor, with his first campaign event held this week at the Eagle on Wilton Drive. Commissioner Paul Rolli has also announced his re-election bid for city commission and will have his first campaign event at the beginning of February. That’s two out of three incumbents whose terms are up in November. So the big question around town is if Commissioner Gary Resnick will seek another term. Resnick has served our city for many years as city commissioner and as mayor, and for some residents, Gary is the poster child for their cause of term limits here in our Island City. I believe we have term limits already, called elections. If we have qualified public servants doing a great job then keep electing them, if we have someone who is out of touch and no longer serving our city well, then we have the ability to elect someone else. Local elections are not like running for a U.S. House seat or state-wide office, where large sums of campaign funds and incumbency are a much greater force to overcome. Local issues and direct contact with voters here in our Island City are much more important than imposing limitations on those who serve our city well.
Past election cycles have seen many candidates throw their hats into the race for municipal office. This year looks like we will have some serious challenges, at least for the two commission seats. Having not had my ear close to the rails lately, I have not heard any chatter about who might be running for mayor other than Scott Newton. However there is plenty of talk about those who might be running for commissioner. Never a good idea to assume so I will wait until this talk actually turns into something more certain when possible candidates file paperwork with our city clerk. A robust campaign is good for our city, and residents as well as those seeking office should use this time to have informed discussions on a wide range of issues facing our Island City.
No shortage of opinion when it comes to which issues should be front and center for our elected officials and for city management. Future growth and sustainability should be one of the items that top the list. Surprisingly though, sometimes it is the small quality of life issues that get people to react and become more involved with city government. Recent changes in trash and recycle pick-up schedules have stirred many in our Island City to reach out to their elected officials. Similar issues that might seem to be less important in the grand scheme of things are hot button items in local elections. Where are the trees on Wilton Drive, what happened to the Wayfinding signs throughout our city, why can’t we light up the sign at our local library, why is code enforcement not concerned about swales? No shortage of questions, but it’s these quality-of-life issues that matter to many and are questions that keep getting asked over and over here in our Island City.
Speaking of swales, it might be a good time for city management to educate many new residents, and even some longtime residents on the importance and requirements for swales in our neighborhoods. Swales allow for temporary ponding and channeling of water to storm drains, resulting in less street and local flooding. Many new residents are not aware of the requirements for swales in our local code and mistakenly pave over the swale for parking, plant gardens right up to the roadway, and many other misuses. Not sure why we are not seeing more code violations for such an important drainage and flooding issue throughout our residential neighborhoods.
Residents need to be aware of the issues that our elected officials need to be on top of topics such as budgetary concerns, long-term planning, sustainability, infrastructure needs, and many more not-so-exciting discussions. Equally important is for our city government and elected officials to ensure that the many, sometimes minute, issues that affect many of us on a daily basis are handled in a timely manner before becoming a nuisance and a problem for many.
Working together on the many issues that our city needs to address, understanding those issues, and seeking consensus and solutions is what makes 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.