Three candidates, two seats, one ugly race. The election for city commission got ugly in the last few weeks.
Anonymous (and public) mudslinging was abundant. There was a shouting match during a city commission meeting. Campaign signs were under scrutiny. Don D’Arminio, David Walker, and incumbent Paul Rolli were in it to the bitter end. And in that very bitter end, voters sent the incumbent, Rolli, back to city hall for another four years. The nail-biter came down to who would win the open seat created by Commissioner Gary Resnick’s retirement.
Unofficial results show D’Arminio winning by fewer than 200 votes. He told SFGN that Walker called him around 9 p.m. to concede.
“I’m humbled by the support of our residents, and honored to be the next commissioner that they chose to lead our city.”
Rolli cruised to re-election, and shortly after the polls closed he gave a very happy interview to SFGN, saying, “I think it’s great. I wouldn’t have run if I didn’t want to win.”
SFGN reached out to Walker’s campaign but has not received a response.
Wilton Manors is a small city of about 13,000 residents but the election had the feel of big city politics, in all the wrong ways. A few weeks before the election, an anonymous flier, with slanderous accusations and homophobic undertones, defaming D’Arminio was mailed to voters. Both the Walker and Rolli campaigns denied any involvement. When Rolli defended himself during a city commission meeting, a brief shouting match erupted with D’Arminio’s partner.
Previously, someone called code enforcement to remove campaign signs. Stickers saying “A Vote For Paul Dooms Us All” started appearing around the city.
All this bad blood could make city commission meetings tense. Rolli said he’s ready to move past it.
“We’ll get past all this election nonsense and the rivalries. We’ll all work together.”
D’Arminio struck a similarly gracious tone, saying, “I look forward to working with our entire city commission to move our city forward on behalf of our residents to do what’s best for our city and our residents. I congratulate Paul Rolli and Scott Newton on their re-elections.”