Three seats on the Wilton Manors 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, occupied by Justin Flippen are up for election. Green is not running for re-election and Flippen has not yet announced if he is running for re-election.
To date, incumbent Julie Carson and political newcomers Mike Bracchi and Chris Caputo have announced their intentions to run for Commissioner.
Here is our Q&A with Bracchi. Visit SFGN.com/WMelection2020 to read the other candidate profiles and for other Wilton Manors election news.
(Wilton Manors Gazette) Why have you decided to run for Commission?
(Mike Bracchi) Our city is experiencing a period of stagnation. Four out of five of the current commissioners have each served over a decade in the role; and collectively they have 60 years of service on the commission. It’s time for a change in leadership. We need passionate leaders with strong business experience to move our city forward and to attract a diverse array of businesses. I am running to ensure that our city will not be left behind; and to help accelerate growth and development in a smart, sensible, and fiscally sound manner.
What are your qualifications?
I am a licensed pharmacist, attorney, and healthcare business executive who is dedicated to continually learning and challenging myself academically and professionally. I have earned several degrees, including a:
· Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) from the University of Kansas;
· Juris Doctor (JD - law degree) from St. John’s University;
· M.S. Business Management & Leadership from the City University of New York; and
· B.S. in Pharmacy from St. John’s University
I also have numerous accomplishments within the business sector through serving in various roles in the healthcare industry, including:
· Managing a $350M budget that generated more than $1B in revenue;
· Launching a specialty pharmacy business that went on to generate over $30M in revenue in the first year; and
· Managing more than 200 employees.
Are you already involved in the city on boards, etc.?
I am a member of the Budget Review Advisory Committee, which all candidates for commissioner should be required to participate in prior to running for the role. Understanding the nuts and bolts of the city’s budget is crucial to establishing fiscal responsibility, and mismanagement of the budget could be disastrous for our community and our residents.
List your top issues of concern?
Fiscal Responsibility: I believe as a community we can spend more responsibly, investing in projects and programs that benefit the community as a whole and not on projects that only benefit a select few. I will work towards improving fiscal management while maintaining priorities for our city such as:
• Decreasing the overall tax rate while maintaining all of the services the city offers our residents;
• Updating infrastructure, e.g. water and sewer pipes, roadways, and parking; and
• Adopting technology and automation of city services in order to streamline processes and procedures.
Economic Development: Moving the city beyond 2020 will require smart, sensible, and common-sense development to revitalize our commercial areas while preserving the charm, character, and history of our single-family neighborhoods. We must focus on the future of our community, and take steps to:
• Attract commercial development along our major streets, with projects that preserve the charm and character of our city;
• Generate additional taxes to aid the City in continuing to provide traditional services, as well as new services to our residents; and
• Increase the variety of businesses operating within our city.
Quality of Life: Our residents love our island city for all it has to offer; especially for its friendliness and small town charm.
My goal is to maintain and improve our overall quality of life by focusing on the following areas:
Crime: Crime rates have increased in some of our neighborhoods. We need to further partner with our police department to ensure that we can all go to bed feeling safe and secure;
Cultural Arts: Attract and promote programs, businesses, and events that enhance the artistic and cultural features of our city; and
Rising Sea Levels: We must protect our land and property from increasing tides and flooding that threaten to damage our homes and thoroughfares.
Why are you a better choice than your opponents?
I am the only candidate with any leadership and executive experience associated with running a large business in the private sector. In my role as a hospital executive, I was responsible for managing budgets 10x the size of the Wilton Manors’ budget. I have built businesses from the ground up and I have extensive experience with process improvement and operational excellence.
How long have you lived in the city?
I purchased my townhome in Wilton Manors almost eight years ago and I have been a full-time resident since moving into the community.
Are you in favor of term limits, why or why not?
No one should stay in office for a lifetime, but I understand and appreciate both sides of the argument. The real question is what should be considered a reasonable length of time for serving. To tackle this issue, the city has created a Charter Review Committee that is focused on addressing this question. They will be presenting their recommendations to the commission in the next few months. When I become Commissioner, I will be working hard to get other residents involved in our city, especially on our committees. This will ensure we continue to have highly qualified residents involved in city politics and providing fresh perspectives to improving our community.
Talk about your ideas for improving the city’s downtown business district?
(MB) As many of us know, our businesses turn over fairly quickly. One critical issue is that we currently have 3x the amount of retail space per capita when compared to the national average. To create more balance, we need to attract more residents and rethink the types of businesses we have in our community.
The way we bring in more residents is to promote smart, sensible, common-sense residential development and redevelopment in some of our commercial areas. In addition, we must focus on promoting more office space; rather than new retail shops. Having more offices in the city will bring non-residents to our community during the week. They will make purchases from our retail shops and eat in our restaurants Monday through Friday, when most of our city currently feels like a ghost-town with tumbleweed rolling down the streets.
The city now has an all-LGBT Commission. How will you serve ALL the city’s residents, since the majority of Wilton Manors’ residents are not LGBT?
While I am Commissioner, my goal will be to make decisions that benefit the community as a whole, and not a select few. Everyone may not agree with my decisions all of the time, but I can guarantee that I will not be making decisions based off self-interests or pet projects. I am running to serve our entire community.
Are you married, kids, partner, etc?
I am happily partnered to Tommy Walser, a native to Broward County. We have an adorable yorkie puppy named Archie.
What is your profession?
(MB) I started my own pharmacy and healthcare consulting business in 2018. I help hospitals develop pharmacy strategy, reduce costs, and improve processes. I have an extensive work history in hospital management.
How will your profession mesh with your job as commissioner, if elected?
My unique educational background and extensive work experience will bring a fresh business perspective to the commission.
Would there be a conflict of any sort?
Of course not. I am only running to help our residents push our city forward.
Is there anything about your personal story that especially qualifies you to serve Wilton Manors’ diverse and unique population?
I learned to appreciate service to my community from a very early age. My father was a police officer who put his life on the line every single day. He did not serve and protect certain classes of people; he served everyone. I was also a Boy Scout and eventually became an Eagle Scout. During this time I learned the important values of helpfulness, friendliness, and kindness. These values have driven me my entire life. And when I am Commissioner, I will continue to treat everyone equally and with dignity and respect.
What is your biggest criticism of what the Wilton Manors Commission has done recently, if any?
Our commissioners are public servants who hopefully serve for the right reasons, i.e. to improve our community. They spend a significant amount of time working for the city each month for very little monetary compensation, so I appreciate all the work they do. However, collectively they have been on the commission for six decades and the city has been experiencing stagnation for years. We need a strong leader with substantial business experience, to bring a fresh perspective to the commission and to drive our city forward. It’s time for a change. Time for progress. And time for new leadership.
Visit SFGN.com/WMelection2020 to read the other candidate profiles and for other Wilton Manors elections news.