June 17 was the final call to throw your hat in the race for municipal elections here in our Island City.
Boyd Corbin has decided to make a run for mayor against the incumbent Scott Newton. In the commissioners’ race for two seats, we have three candidates, incumbent Vice Mayor Paul Rolli Don D’Arminio and David Walker, both previously serving on the Planning and Zoning Board. Should be an interesting few months ahead till Election Day in November.
The big news coming out of last Friday was the absence of Commissioner Gary Resnick’s filing as he has done in numerous election cycles here in Wilton Manors over the last 24 years. Resnick first filed back in 1998, won a seat on the city commission and went on to also serve as mayor for 10 of those 24 years of service to our city. Over the many years there has been plenty of residents who had much to say about Resnick, including me in this column. However, Resnick’s many years of service have helped make Wilton Manors the wonderful city we all enjoy today and now is the time to thank him for his many years of service to our community.
Over the last few months of city commission meetings, observing Resnick, I would have placed my bet that Resnick would seek re-election one more time. His strong voice over the past year on vacation rentals plaguing our residential communities along with his advocacy on quality-of-life issues for residents seemed to be topics best used to win one more election. One more bet was lost when dealing with election outcomes involving Resnick. You think I would have learned more over the years.
Speaking of bets, one might look to place one on the long-shot candidate for city commission: David Walker. His background in environmental issues along with his extensive service on numerous regional boards, and our city’s Planning and Zoning Board, make him a very formidable candidate. Will be interesting to see how this three-way race for two commission seats plays out. The other newcomer to municipal elections is also coming from many years of service on the Planning and Zoning Board, Don D'Arminio. Don is no newcomer to city politics, and has been involved with many successful campaigns in the past, and has strong ties with area non-profits. One of Don’s main hurdles will be his strong opinions on the support of vacation and short-term rentals in our residential neighborhoods, something residents need to have more clarity about.
Of the three, one would assume that the sure bet for re-election would be Vice Mayor Rolli — pronounced row-lee not rawl-lee, as was made clear at the last city commission meeting. One should not be too self-assured in any election, especially when many residents are showing up for Public Comments mentioning your name in a non-supportive manner as this past week. In an election year, when reaching out to residents for support, perhaps the vice mayor’s choice of response to the many residents that made Public Comments that night should have been more conciliatory rather than what came across as defensive and self-justifying.
The whoopla that night was on the Second Reading of an Ordinance mainly worked on by Rolli — that had to do with updating and creating consistency across city advisory boards and committees. One item was to limit the size of boards, excluding the Planning and Zoning Board, to five members. Many residents spoke up against the need to limit volunteerism and opposed such a move by the city commission. Our city is blessed with many residents looking to volunteer, take part in their municipal government, to serve their community, and such a move was viewed as unwarranted by the many who had come to speak that night. As the chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board stated — the committee has operated for 66 years with great community support and how cutting the members from seven to five would be anything short of foolishness.
One of the main factors stated by Rolli as to why some changes in current operations were justified, was that according to city staff the workload to support each advisory boards was about 14 weeks of time and labor. To give the vice mayor credit — that is an astounding amount of time spent by city staff supporting each advisory board. If city staff needs 14 weeks of labor to support the Library Advisory Board or the Parks & Recreation Board, then perhaps Rolli should be seeking the improvement of workplace efficiency for city staff rather than a reduction in volunteers looking to serve our city. Something to think about here.
As we move ahead with our first election in 24 years without Resnick on the ballot, we should take a moment to thank Resnick for his many years of service and for his part in making 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.