Wilton Manors prides itself on life being better here and three commission candidates are campaigning to ensure that’s the case. 

The top two vote-getters will take their position on the commission. All three candidates are gay men.

Vice Mayor Paul Rolli is the lone incumbent. First elected in 2018, Rolli, 71, is a retired top-level federal government executive who directed overseas operations at the IRS. 

“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,” Rolli said. “This commission accomplished so much because it is a focused and cohesive team.”

Rolli faces newcomers Don D’Arminio and Roy David Walker. Commissioners serve four-year terms and earn a $25,000 annual salary. 

D’Arminio, 60, is an accounting and tax professional who has served for the last six years on the city’s planning and zoning board. He moved to Wilton Manors 14 years ago from the east coast.

“I immediately felt a connection, a sense of belonging … an instant affinity with the Island City. The people were [and still are] very friendly, genuine and welcoming.”

Walker, a park naturalist for Broward County, brings knowledge and experience in environmental and sustainability projects along with a millennial's perspective. If elected, Walker, 37, would be the youngest member of the commission. 

“Public service is very important to me and having lived in Wilton Manors for over 12 years, I decided the best way to improve the city and help the community is to be part of the process,” said Walker, who received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award from former president Barack Obama in 2015.

Keeping the city budget sustainable and improving water and sewer infrastructure are top issues for all candidates. By working as a team, Rolli said the commission has many accomplishments worth nothing, including managing the COVID-19 crisis without dipping into reserve funds.

“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regulations to attract new residents and businesses and increase tax revenue, initiated a rewrite of the city’s outdated code of ordinances; awarded over $4.4 million in surtax funds for city-wide transportation-related projects; approved a state agreement to receive about $6.4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,” Rolli said.

D’Arminio touts his ability to get things done as well as his involvement in several community organizations and charities. 

“This community engagement opportunity allowed me to be able to ‘pay it forward’ while also applying my extensive career/professional/life experiences to be of even greater service to this unique city of which I so proudly call home,” D’Arminio said.

Maintaining Wilton Manors’ small town vibe is frequently mentioned by all candidates. With housing costs on the rise, Walker is proposing new developments carve out a portion of their plans for low income and elderly residents. 

“Although this may not be the silver bullet for affordable housing, it is a first step in addressing the issue,” Walker said. 

Election day is Nov. 8. Early voting begins Oct. 24 and runs through Nov. 6. The Woman’s Club of Wilton Manors, 600 N.E. 21st Court, is the city’s early voting site. The last day for voters to request a vote-by-mail ballot is Oct. 29.

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