Three seats on the Wilton Manors Commission are up for grabs in the Nov. 3 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.
To date, political newcomers Mike Bracchi and Chris Caputo, as well as Doug Blevins, have announced their intentions to run for commission. Julie Carson initially filed to run for the commission as well, but has since switched races when the mayor’s seat opened up. Former Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newton and celebrity chef Josie Smith-Malave are also running for mayor.
Now Juan Melecio has announced his intention to run for a commission seat as well.
Visit SFGN.com/WMelection2020 to read the other candidate profiles and for other Wilton Manors election news.
Here is our Q&A with Melecio:
Why have you decided to run for commission?
Being a business owner in the city of Wilton Manors and a resident. It got me very involved in the business association; going to commission meetings I’ve noticed a lack of leadership during the construction of Wilton Drive.
There is also a lack of new ideas to grow tourism and to grow the city of Wilton Manors.
What are your qualifications?
I’ve owned five businesses in the last 11 years. The last one I sold five months ago so I have plenty of administration experience. My main project will be to create a healthy and attractive city in order to improve tourism in the city. I had a 10-year background working in tourism in Puerto Rico.
Are you already involved in the city on boards, etc.?
I’ve been helping the business association to connect businesses and residents doing workshops. I was supposed to be on the board of the business association. They asked me last year, but I just sold my business so at the moment I’m not involved in any board.
List your top issues of concern?
I’ve been really big into recycling and compost — that was one of my businesses in San Francisco and I would like to create a compost program for Wilton Manors and put more recycling bins around the city. I would like to create spaces that attract tourists as well as more art in our community.
Why are you a better choice than your opponents?
I’m a person who is very involved in the city. I’m not the typical politician that comes out every two or four years. I’m here all year round helping charities in the city for kids, domestic abuse, pet projects, the leather community, and the arts. Every time they asked me to help out with any charity I’m always there. I have a lot of great ideas and I am the type of person that will fight to the end so I can create what I want for the city. I also love to listen to the people in our community, and as a former business owner I know what the businesses in Wilton Manor need.
How long have you lived in the city?
I’ve been living in Wilton Manors for one year but I had my business for four years on Wilton Drive and I’ve been in the area for the last 10 years.
Are you in favor of term limits, why or why not?
Yes. I have always been very outspoken about term limits. I think politicians should not be able to run for more than two terms. We should let new generations come in with new ideas and provide opportunities for the next generation to come. I believe that a lot of politicians get very comfortable and sometimes even lazy and those that stay for more than two terms, in some situations, it creates corruption in politics. So yes, I believe no more than two terms.
Talk about your ideas for improving the city’s downtown business district? Is the existing mix of businesses working, or not?
Right now the city of Wilton Manors, it’s a city where people come to drink and all the other businesses are not having the support from the community or the tourists as they deserve. One of the things that I would love to see in Wilton Manors and, I talked about it in a City Hall meeting before, is the creation of a Walk of Fame for LGBTQ and people from our community that have done exceptional things. I think it’s something that will attract tourism to our community. I would love to see a compost program as well as more recycling bins around the city.
I would love to see more art and some of the green areas owned by the city to improve with Fountain’s art. Tourism in the city has been going down in the last couple of years because the only thing that we have in the city is going to a bar and that’s not enough.
The city now has an all-gay commission. How will you serve ALL the city’s residents, since the majority of the city’s residents are not gay?
Most of my friends are heterosexual women. I know people from all walks of life. I’m not here to work just for the gays, I’m here to work for everyone in our community no matter their gender, race or economic status.
Are you married, kids, partner, etc?
I am married. I’ve been with my husband for nine years and I have two senior rescue dogs.
What is your profession, job, etc. (where do you work)? How will your profession mesh with your job as commissioner, if elected? Would there be a conflict of any sort?
Like I said I used to own a spa and barbershop in Wilton Manors that I sold seven months ago. At the moment I’ve been doing stand-up comedy shows around the U.S. It doesn’t affect me because I pretty much create my own schedule, so I can move the shows around the times that I don’t have to work in the city and I usually travel just for a day or two.
Is there anything about your personal story that especially qualifies you to serve the city's diverse and unique population?
I am originally from Puerto Rico. My father, my brother, my uncle and my cousin were all police officers and most of the people in my family always owned businesses. I am a person with a really big opinion and I’m not afraid of change. After managing a tour company and working with the tourism company for nine years, I moved to San Francisco where I opened my environmental home and gift store. Then I moved 10 years ago to Wilton Manors. I am a person who is dedicated to work and passionate about animal rights, the environment, and helping those who can’t defend themselves.
What is your biggest criticism of what the Wilton Manors Commission has done recently, if any?
One of the things that I don’t agree with is how unclear and bad the information about the construction of Wilton Drive has been. The commission has not been truthful about the plans and the art that was supposed to go in Wilton Drive. I think we need a commission that is more truthful and that can provide accurate information to the residents.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’m a big-time shopaholic. That’s my biggest addiction and I would love to invite everyone in Wilton Manors to support the little art gallery, the flower shop, the clothing store, and to try all the little businesses that we have in the city and to show we’re not just a city for bars.