The mayor’s race in Wilton Manors is a stark contrast of platforms from familiar faces.
This is Mayor Scott Newton’s second administration as mayor, having held the position from 2004 to 2008. Born and raised in the Island City, Newton, 65, won a hard-fought three-way race for mayor in 2020 and is seeking re-election on a pitch of leading a cohesive commission towards long-term goals.
“The decision to run for mayor is to continue the work our commission and I, along with the city manager, have done to move our city into the future,” Newton said. “To have financial stability. To update our current parks and to complete our infrastructure.”
Newton faces challenger Boyd Corbin, 54, who is making his fourth run for mayor. An outspoken critic of both Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale governance, Corbin’s focus flows from the tap.
“Annual city spending has increased by several million dollars over the past few years and our water bills are being padded to pay for it,” Corbin said. “The city commission has always said there is nothing we can do about our green/yellow/tan city drinking water since we buy it from Fort Lauderdale. I disagree and I’ve been working on the quality of our tap water for the past four years. I’ve been talking about our outrageous water bills for eight years.”
Corbin is quick to pull out his phone to record incidents of sewer line breaks, which have plagued the city in recent years. He’s calling for lift station repairs and sleeving of the sewer lines.
Newton doesn’t deny Wilton Manors’ aging infrastructure is in need of upgrades. He declined to lay blame on one department.
“We have had big challenges in the last few years with COVID that hurt some departments, but we are getting back to fully staffed and back on track,” Newton said.
Wilton Manors Commissioners recently voted to increase the mayor’s salary from $11,500 to $30,000 annually. Both candidates are businessmen with Newton owning an upholstery shop and Corbin operating a vacation rental.
The lone straight man and parent on an all-gay male commission, Newton said he loves to see diverse businesses come to Wilton Manors. Having a component of affordable housing in projects for the working class is needed, Newton said.
“There is interest from developers to bring in different projects that could include workforce housing,” Newton said.
Corbin said he is taking a free market approach to commerce with one exception.
“The blood plasma center on Andrews Ave. attracts drug addicts who sell their blood,” Corbin said. “We don’t need businesses like that if we can help it.”
A little more than 7,000 Wilton Manors residents cast votes in the 2020 mayoral election. Newton defeated former commissioner Julie Carson by 116 votes (3,161 to 3,045) with celebrity chef Josie Smith-Malave taking 873 votes. A count by the U.S. Census Bureau that same year showed the city to have a population of 11,426.
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.
The Gazette launched a Wilton Manors focused newsletter. Sign up today! You can also visit Facebook.com/groups/WMGazette to join the Gazette’s community Facebook page.