Two seats on the Wilton Manors Commission are up for grabs in the Nov. 8 general election as campaign season kicks into high gear.

Three candidates are vying for the two seats. The top two vote-getters are elected to a four-year term.

Here is our Q&A with Paul Rolli, City Vice Mayor and the only incumbent commissioner seeking re-election. Visit this page for coverage from the previous election cycle: https://southfloridagaynews.com/WMelection2020.

Why have you decided to run for commissioner?

I am seeking a second term as city commissioner to ensure the initiatives in process are brought to fruition and to keep the momentum of the commission moving forward. This commission accomplished so much because it is a focused and cohesive team.

What are your qualifications?

After a 37-year career, I retired as a top-level executive from the federal government where I learned to lead and think strategically. As the head of a large organizational component, I was responsible for policy, budget, and utilization of resources. Coupled with my other work with nonprofit organizations within the community and my proven track record as a city commissioner and vice mayor I am well qualified to continue leading the city.

List your top issues of concern:

  • Ensure the long-term fiscal sustainability of the city
  • Implement the repair/replacement program of water/sewer infrastructure
  • Ensure timely delivery of the other strategic plan initiatives: efficient and high-performing government; sea level rise and climate change issues; traffic and transportation issues; creating an investment climate to attract tourism, residential and commercial development, including a boutique hotel; keep our city safe, preserve neighborhoods and protect our quality of life and including bringing more art into the city.

How long have you lived in the city?

Sixteen years.

Please provide your chief criticism (if any) of the WiltonNext study.

The results are disappointing as many of the outcomes were already known from other studies or from internal input. While I think the study does pull some of the elements together, in retrospect, I would not have voted to move forward with the study just because we received a grant to do so.

Are you married, kids, partner, etc.?

Married, no kids, one pet mini doxie named Priscilla.

What is your age, profession, job, etc.?

Seventy-one, retired top-level federal government executive and current city commissioner and vice mayor.

Does the city have a lack of affordable housing, and if so, what can be done about it?

The city has several federal affordable housing developments on Powerline Road and also at the Pride Center on Dixie Hwy. The city, alone, cannot solve the affordable housing issue without significant help from the county, state and federal governments. We need to work with the county as they have much of the needed funding. In addition, we are exploring our affordable housing impact fees to determine if the fees are sufficient. The recently enacted development regulations provide an incentive of additional height in new developments if developers provide affordable units. I have been in touch with county officials to obtain more information on county programs and positioning on this issue.

Do you favor legalizing all forms of cannabis for recreational and medical use?

Yes.

What are some of your biggest accomplishments?

By working as a team, the city commission adopted a five-year strategic plan with six key areas; approved a 25 to 30-year water/sewer infrastructure plan; completed over $3 million in water/sewer improvements; updated development regulations to attract new residents and businesses and increase tax revenue, initiated a rewrite of the city’s outdated code of ordinances; awarded over $4.4 million in surtax funds for city-wide transportation-related projects; approved a state agreement to receive about $6.4 million from the American Rescue Plan Act and many others. The city managed the COVID-19 crisis without having to use reserve funds.

Is there a city department that is underperforming and why?

All departments need to improve performance to better deliver residential services. At my request, with commission agreement, the city is conducting reviews of all departments to determine if they are organizationally positioned and staffed to meet the needs of the residents to deliver services quickly and effectively. These reviews will also cover internal processes and programs aimed at making improvements. Many of the departments appear to be “siloed” and there is room to centralize shared services and eliminate duplication. The city has operated in the same mode for many years and it’s time to make some changes.

Are city employee wages fair and livable?

The commission approved a wage and salary study and as a result, there was agreement to budget for the implementation of the study results to ensure employees are fairly paid. We are opening the salary article of the PBA contract prior to the renewal date to renegotiate police salaries as the WMPD are the lowest paid in the county.

Are you in favor of annexing Lazy Lake? Why or why not?

I am in favor of annexing Lazy Lake if they make the required formal request for annexation. However, I will only approve annexation once assured current Wilton Manors residents do not bear the cost burden of any existing legal, environmental, or other liabilities, and any other conditions that are the responsibility of the Lazy Lake residents.

What businesses does the city need and why?

The city needs businesses that residents want and that they will support. In addition, we need to attract a hotel developer to increase our tourism sector. In view of failing retail brick and mortar stores, and the increase in online shopping, the business segment needs to be carefully navigated to ensure sustainable businesses. I have worked with the incoming developers of commercial space on what kinds of businesses they think are viable as they have greater access to current trends and the new business market.

Are you in favor of merging WMPD with BSO?

I do not favor merging WMPD with BSO. The quality and timeliness of service provided by our PD exceeds those that would be delivered by BSO. The residents love our PD and are willing to pay for those services. One of the reasons we are working to expand our tax base is to ensure long-term fiscal sustainability to provide police and other services the residents want.


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