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. Green is not running for re-election and Mayor Justin Flippen died in office.
To date three people have filed to run for mayor: Scott Newton, a former mayor of Wilton Manors; Wilton Manors City Commissioner Julie Carson; and local restaurant owner Josie Smith-Malave.
Here is our Q&A with Newton.
Visit SFGN.com/WMelection2020 to read the other candidate profiles and for other Wilton Manors election news.
Why have you decided to run for mayor?
As you know, Wilton Manors recently lost a very beloved Mayor in Justin Flippen. He worked tirelessly for the citizens of Wilton Manors and he had a great love for, and dedication to, our city. As the citizens of Wilton Manors were still grieving Mayor Flippen’s death, we joined the world stage in dealing with an international pandemic, COVID-19. More than ever, our city now needs a strong and proven leader and consensus builder who is experienced in working through difficult times.
In the coming months and years, we as a city will face many challenges, both socially and economically. I have publicly served this community for many years in the past and I feel l have what it takes to face these difficult times ahead of us. I love this city and its people and I want to see all continue to thrive.
What are your qualifications?
I have served the City of Wilton Manors as both a volunteer role and as an elected official for over 35 years. I have had the privilege of serving as Mayor for four and a half years and was elected to the city’s commission four times. I have chaired the city’s Planning and Zoning Committee. I was President of my children’s baseball league as they were growing up. I am a successful small business owner. Most of all, I have always put the concerns of residents as my top priority.
List your top issues of concern:
The safety and welfare of the citizens of Wilton Manors is always my top concern. Secondly, economic growth that will sustain the quality of life and not place a burden on the taxpayers.
Why are you a better choice than your opponents?
My years of quality experience and relationships with the citizens make me the best choice for Mayor of Wilton Manors at this time. I know how to communicate with the residents and business owners in the city, and I have always had a good working relationship with the City Manager(s) and City Commission.
How long have you lived in the city?
I have lived in the City of Wilton Manors for 60 years.
Are you in favor of term limits, why or why not?
I do not have a strong personal opinion on term limits for our city government. We are a small city in Wilton Manors and I believe the residents of the city should make these determinations, as they evaluate whether their governing body and policies are working for them. I strongly believe it is up to the city’s electorate to decide the length of terms of its elected officials.
Talk about your ideas for improving the city’s downtown business district. Is the existing mix of businesses working, or not?
I believe our city’s downtown district has improved tremendously over the past few decades. We do need more residential spaces and businesses to populate and patronize the downtown area. For example, doctor offices and other drop-in businesses would be an asset to the city. A suite of satellite offices for one of our colleges or universities might also be viable.
The city now has an all-gay commission. How will you serve ALL the city’s residents, since the majority of WM’s residents are not gay?
Wilton Manors is a very unique city with an extremely eclectic mix of residents and businesses. The sexual orientation of its individual commission members should not be relevant. The commissioners and previous mayor were all elected by its citizens to represent the entire city, its residents and its business owners. Our commission needs a mayor who will continue to treat our citizens and business owners equally, respecting their concerns, and building consensus. I am that person!
Are you married, kids, partner, etc?
I have been married to my wife, Cindy, for 39 years. We have three adult children and three grandkids. All three of our children are civil servants, two work as deputies and one as a school teacher.
What is your profession, job, etc. (where do you work)?
I am the owner of a small business, Quality Interiors, an upholstery shop for furniture, cars, and offices.
Is there anything about your personal story that especially qualifies you to serve Wilton Manors diverse and unique population?
People in Wilton Manors who know me personally, and through my time as a public servant, know that I am fair and understanding. They know that I truly listen and care about their needs and wishes.
What is your biggest criticism of what the Wilton Manors Commission has done recently, if any?
Early this year, no one saw an international pandemic on the horizon. When the virus was confirmed to be in our city, decisions had to be made quickly that would affect the health and maybe even the lives of our residents. During this transition, I was disappointed that some of our own commission members did not feel the need to stay at home sooner to protect our residents and visitors to our community.
Why are you the best choice for mayor?
Simply stated, I am a people person. I enjoy the challenge of working to bring people and ideas together. I have a record of building consensus where divides prevailed.
What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
My biggest accomplishment to date for the City of Wilton Manors, has been my contribution in moving the city forward during the last 20 years. I worked with the City Commission, city managers, and the citizens to continually improve the city’s infrastructure with a revitalized downtown, new police and City Hall, new parks, and upgrading our current parks.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Besides my wife, children, and grandkids, my greatest love is for this city and its residents. The people of Wilton Manors know me well and they know my record for listening to them and for supporting them!