Three seats on the Wilton Manors City Commission are up for grabs in the Nov. 3, 2020 election and the campaigning has begun to heat up.
Two 4-year Commission seats, occupied by Tom Green and Julie Carson, and the Mayor’s 2-year seat, formerly occupied by the late Justin Flippen are up for election. Green is not running for re-election and the mayor’s seat is open.
One candidate for the City Commission includes Jason Basilico, a local business owner.
The other people that have filed to run include Chris Caputo, Mike Bracchi, Doug Blevins, Juan Melecio and Joseph Sansone.
Meanwhile three candidates are running for mayor including current City Commissioner Julie Carson; former Wilton Manors City Commissioner Scott Newton; and celebrity chef Josie Smith-Malave.
Visit SFGN.com/WMelection2020 to read the other candidate profiles and for other Wilton Manors election news.
Here is our Q&A with Basilico.
Why have you decided to run for commission?
(Jason Basilico) As a small business owner, I have experienced the frustration of navigating through a web of policies and procedures. I understand the importance of having representation in our city during these unprecedented hardships.
It is prudent to bring a unique perspective on social and economic issues facing our city while maintaining sustainable growth. We need a common-sense approach on how to deal with the post-COVID-19 workforce and economy. I will bring a fact-driven approach with common sense and empathy. We need to end politics as usual.
What are your qualifications?
As a proud veteran of the United States Navy who served our country with honor, integrity, and loyalty to civic duty, I believe in public service and will apply skill sets I have learned to any situation with an unbiased approach. I am hard working, determined, with leadership skills; I put myself through college and earned my bachelor’s degree in marketing. I worked my way up the food and beverage industry. Currently I am now a successful owner of a restaurant and bar in Wilton Manors. At the same time, I continue to give back to our youth group, children's organizations, LGTBQ community, and animal rescues. I understand the importance of hard work and dedication needed to improve our community. Serving as commissioner will be the next step in helping shape our community.
Are you already involved in the city on boards, etc.?
Currently I am not on the city board. I believe in direct involvement with our community. I am continuously working to improve the lives of our community by organizing events and fundraisers for various organizations like Kids in Distress, The Bonnet House, and many animal rescues in South Florida. During the hardships with COVID-
19, I donated my time to front line workers at local hospitals by cooking and distributing meals. Community service and civic duty play an important role in my life as I enjoy helping others and strengthening our community.
List your top issues of concern?
Responsible Economic Development - It is imperative Wilton Manors focuses on economic development in order to create responsible and sustainable growth. As Commissioner, I will work to expand the city's municipal tax base and to create an enterprise revenue stream to assist in the expansion of affordable housing projects and development.
This is especially important in our city’s aging population. In order to expand our municipal tax, we need to support our small businesses. They are the driving force in our economy and play a central role in a healthy community for advancing economic opportunity. It is imperative that we develop pro-business strategies that support the success of Wilton Manors’ small business community. Our city needs to strengthen the communication and assist in the processes of new entrepreneurship, and existing businesses, to facilitate growth throughout our city.
Ensure Fiscal Transparency - To ensure fiscal transparency of the city’s budget, such as the city’s Water and Sewer Funds, I will commit to comprehensive and transparent financial and fiscal management with strong accountability, customer-oriented values, ethics, integrity, and stewardship. I will make every effort to ensure that the City’s financial information is easily accessible and readily available to all.
Environmental Sustainable Governance - The city needs to do more when it comes to our climate response. The (2019) Climate Change Action Plan in partnership with the City of Oakland Park is a great start, but we need to do more than just talk about it. Our City needs to create an Environmental Sustainable Manager position, like the City of Oakland Park. This position will oversee planning, coordinating activities with environmental compliance, and evaluating environmental issues as it relates to city policies.
Why are you a better choice than your opponents?
Everyone running for Wilton Manors Commission brings his or her own unique experience and why he or she is running. I believe the city needs a small business owner at the commissioner’s table - someone who understands the hardship of managing a business in our city and how COVID-19 has devastated our small business community. I have the experiences needed to lead our city in difficult times. I am a small business owner with strong leadership skills, commitment to help our community, and a great perspective on how to grow our city, protect our environment, and support matters of concern affecting our senior population, including affordable housing.
How long have you lived in the city? Where do you live?
In 2003, I moved to Wilton Manors before joining the military in 2006. After completing my service, I came back to the city I love and have lived here since. Currently I live in a house in Central Wilton Manors.
Are you in favor of term limits, why or why not?
I am a proponent of term limits. Term limits can provide an avenue for holding leaders accountable and reduce tendencies of corruption. By ensuring political turnover, we can guarantee new individuals the opportunity to share their own visions and perspectives for our city.
Talk about your ideas for improving the city’s downtown business district? Is the existing mix of businesses working, or not?
I would like to expand on resolution #2015-0100 “Amending Fee Schedule for Parking Fees,” that was approved on Oct. 13, 2015 by the majority of our current sitting body, which allows free OFF street parking until 6 p.m. To assist our daytime small businesses, I propose expanding resolution #2015-0100 to include FREE parking to “ON PUBLIC STREETS” parking. By expanding this resolution it will bring new daytime business to the city’s downtown business district.
The city now has an all-gay commission. How will you serve ALL the city’s residents, since the majority of Wilton Manors residents are not gay?
We live in an amazing city with diverse individuals of many religions, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and sexual orientation. Anyone who serves as commission will need to represent everyone in the city. That’s why it is important for the constituents of Wilton Manors to meet and speak to the people running for office. Having a diverse city means that we need our elected officials to serve without prejudice. As someone that served this great country and as a small business owner that welcomes all people, I am looking to do just that, serve EVERYONE without prejudice. Many of us in the gay community understand discrimination, including myself, and that is why everyone will have a voice when I am elected.
Are you married, kids, partner, etc?
I am not married. I am a proud Dad to a rescued four-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier named Kennedy.
What is your profession, job, etc. ?
My hospitality journey began in 2009 with the launch of the first Matty’s on the drive, located at 2426 Wilton Drive.
I started as a server and worked my way to General Manager. In 2019, I had an opportunity to become an owner of this Bar & Grill that I fell in love with over 10 years ago. Currently, I am one of the proud owners of Matty’s at Wilton Park where we serve everyone with delicious food, extraordinary entertainment, and great drinks!
How will your profession mesh with your job as commissioner, if elected? Would there be a conflict of any sort?
Being a commissioner is so much more than attending two meetings a month and only being seen in the public around election time. Being elected as Commissioner will take commitment, time, and dedication to run our city, which I have. I understand the importance of listening to our residents and business owners. I am very aware of the time, commitment, and dedication needed to fully support and represent our city. As a small business owner, I bring the necessary skills needed to be Commissioner of Wilton Manors and serve without any conflict of interest.
Is there anything about your personal story that especially qualifies you to serve Wilton Manors diverse and unique population?
Being part of an elite military force, Submarines, I learned what it means to be an effective and disciplined member of a team. Additionally, I developed outstanding oral communication, integrity, and leadership skills during my service fighting for our freedom. Although my career with the United States Navy was exceptional and presented me with a variety of wonderful opportunities, another huge factor in my life are my parents. I come from a middle-class hard-working family who has always taught me the importance of having empathy, understanding, and patience. This is why I am passionate and involved in our community and will continue to do so. We live in an amazing city and I believe I can contribute positively as commissioner. With my experiences serving our great country, small business owner, and family values, I will apply a common-sense approach to dealing with post-COVID-19 workforces and the city’s economy. I am ready to roll up my sleeves to get the job done!
What is your biggest criticism of what the WM Commission has done recently if any?
My biggest criticism of the WM Commission is the lack of communication or policies set to help residents and business owners of Wilton Manors, especially during the COVID-19 period. It is time for our elected officials to be held accountable, have transparency, and do a better job communicating to residents and business owners. I have personally experienced the frustration of navigating through the web of policies and procedures, especially during COVID-19 and curfew regulations pertaining to my business. The frustration of not knowing if your business will survive this pandemic and whether your employees will have a job is stressful enough. It would have been helpful if the city did a better job communicating to us what is to be expected. As Commissioner, I will commit to fully support our residents, businesses, and represent our city for a better tomorrow.