A milestone has just been passed here in Wilton Manors. This event snuck by us very quietly and without much fanfare. Dazed over by the daily onslaught of election news, most residents remain confused and unaware of this historic event here in our city.
This past City Commission meeting was the last meeting before Election Day. Our present Mayor, Gary Resnick, has served this city as Mayor for the last 10 years but is not seeking reelection. After Election Day, the torch of new leadership will be passed to a new Mayor, a new leader, a new advocate and hopefully some much needed new direction. That is the only thing residents can be certain of when election results start rolling in.
Our Mayor might not be going too far. Gary Resnick is stepping down as our Mayor but is in a tight race for one of the two City Commissioner seats up for election. So, residents of our Island City might just wake up Wednesday morning after Election Day with our own version of musical chairs. Same faces, just different positions, the status quo, nothing new, business as usual, dupes to a game of five-card monte reshuffled to yield the same result.
Or, perhaps by the hard work of many mystical faeries rumored to be running amok here in our Island City, especially during this week celebrating All Hollow’s Eve, a magical spell hopefully has been cast to blast our city with a gust of change blowing in new leadership, not only for Mayor, but also for City Commission. The election of two city Commissioners offer us a very clear choice. Will it be more of the status quo or a new direction? Will our leadership continue replaying the same song and dance from the past ten years or develop new strategies to move our city forward into the next decade?
I have some serious concerns over the possible results of this election, both locally and statewide. The races for our next Governor and our next United States Senator are also very tight. We must take responsibility for the radical shift right in this new world Reality TV show. We must stop confusing real issues with fake news, mudslinging, and pessimistic fantasies about going back in time. The reality of the future is here right now for us to decide which path to take. Within the borders of this special place we call the Island City, the best choice is one of new leadership, of a new voice, and for a fresh perspective over the business as usual government body we have had in place for over the last ten years.
Change is not the demon that the pessimists want us to believe. Change is what makes us a better society. Change brings about social justice, equality, and new technology that improves people’s lives. Change is not the scary monster lurking in the dark; rather, it is our only hope for a new tomorrow. Embracing that change and shaping it to fit our unique needs is what will define the Island City moving ahead.
As we cruise around our city, we are reminded of a few failures from over the past ten years. One major example is the former church property on NE 26th Street. This could have been a fantastic new residential complex, but it remains a decaying vacant reminder of what could have been. Another is the long-awaited changes in Land Use and Zoning along the Andrews Ave/ Oakland Park Corridor, stalled in city government because of lack of leadership on the dais. The outdated zoning in place along this corridor is why we see a continuation of empty buildings, religious writings on sides of buildings, tired old strip malls, and under-utilized properties. Some people want to keep it that way, but the future of our Island City depends on a vibrant mixed-use corridor along Andrews Avenue and Oakland Park Blvd. Much needed redevelopment will better serve the surrounding communities and bring an increased tax base to our city.
As we welcome in our new Mayor after Election Day, hopefully we will get some relief from all the proclamations consuming so much time at the last few City Commission meetings. Understanding that the Mayor sets the Agenda and can offer proclamations honoring residents and organizations, one wonders whether Mayor Resnick was trying to squeeze in all the people he forgot over the last ten years. It is not my intent to belittle in any way the honors bestowed on selected residents by our Mayor. All are truly deserving and worthy, and we thank them for their continued service to our community. However, spending over an hour on proclamations might be just a bit too much, especially when official city business might be of slightly more importance during Commission meetings.
For the next week, the one action that you can take to make life just better here in our Island City is to cast your ballot in this election.
Get out and vote!!