“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This is perhaps one of the best-known sentences in the English language, a revolutionary statement of the times, written by a band of traitors to the Crown. Those revolutionary leaders were willing to sacrifice their comfortable positions, risk imprisonment and death to fight for a cause in which they fervently believed.

Today we sit around complaining, posting our discontent on social media sites, about the era of Trump, gun violence, tax cuts for the wealthy, low wages for the working poor, the continued attacks on providing healthcare to all Americans, the growing opioid epidemic, and so many other societal problems. For many reasons, our elected officials are failing to do anything substantive about these growing problems. Perhaps it’s time to look to one’s self and ask, “What I am willing to fight for and sacrifice to bring about the just world we deserve and endowed by a creator to have as our right?”

This past week we witnessed the growing split within the Republican Party, with speeches by former President Bush and Senators Flake, Corker and McCain attacking the President and calling for an end to the insanity coming out of the White House. Although I do not agree with their political beliefs, I respect their readiness to take a stand in defense of those beliefs.

So my fellow Manor-ites, what changes do you want to see here in our Island City that you are willing to fight and sacrifice for? Voting for and demanding leadership from our elected officials is a move in the right direction. Next year we will have elections here in our city for Mayor and two City Commission seats. We are already hearing rumors that our Mayor, Gary Resnick, is once again thinking about running for reelection. This comes after statements made, beginning at his last re-election victory party back in 2016, that this would be his last term. In the coming months, we will definitely hear more about this race and those for the two City Commissioner seats held by Scott Newton and Justin Flippen. The June 2018 filing deadline may seem a long time away, but the discussion should begin now on who we would like to see run in our city election.

Elections in our neighboring city of Fort Lauderdale will be taking place at a much quicker pace. Current Mayor Jack Seiler is term limited, so our neighbors will be voting for his replacement along with open seats on the city commission in just over two months. Due to Fort Lauderdale’s city charter, races with more than two candidates have a primary election. This primary election will be held right after the fast approaching New Year holiday, on January 16, 2018. If no candidate receives more than half the votes, the two-top vote-getters face off in the March 13 general election. City Commissioners Dean Trantalis and Bruce Roberts will be running for the office of Mayor along with Charlotte Rodstrom, and possibly more candidates may file by the Nov. 13 deadline.

One main item of interest to residents of Wilton Manors in the Fort Lauderdale mayor’s race is our water and sewage rates. For years, under Mayor Jack Seiler, the City of Fort Lauderdale neglected vital infrastructure, especially when it came to water and sewage, using the higher and higher rates charged neighboring cities to balance their own city budget shortfalls rather than to properly invest in maintenance and repairs. Fort Lauderdale needs new leadership that will finally address such vital issues. City Commissioner Dean Trantalis has made the issue of the city’s infrastructure a top priority. This is a huge concern, not only for the residents of Fort Lauderdale, but for neighboring cities like Wilton Manors, that rely on this infrastructure to deliver drinking water and handle sewage in and out of our borders, at ever increasing cost.

Commissioner Trantalis has been proactive on many other fronts while serving his city. When Mayor Seiler made national news by shutting down areas that feed the homeless population, Commissioner Trantalis held a Town Hall meeting and moderated a very heated debate within the city to hopefully bring about a more positive response. When the city moved ahead with the Vacation Rental Ordinance, it was Commissioner Trantalis who led the way once again in bringing together different sides of the debate. This is what a good leader does. He or she looks to engage, to listen, and to make the tough decisions at the end of the day. Dean Trantalis is the type of leadership Fort Lauderdale needs and is the type of leadership that would benefit our entire region here in South Florida.

In our pursuit of happiness, let us never forget our individual responsibility to bring about the change we need. By participating in our government, by being active members of our community, and by standing up for what is right, and by standing with those who do the same, we will we make life just better here…