It looks like Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom will have to work really hard for her re-election after all.
Rodstrom was the last of the Commission to draw an opponent, but they seem to be making up for lost time, and the rhetoric is getting heated and charged early.
Rodstrom the Candidate!
So far, two challengers have filed to run against her and more might be on the way.
Last week, Steve Glassman, President of the Central Beach Alliance and former key Rodstrom supporter, jumped in the race. And yesterday, Victoria Park resident and activist Howard Elfman entered.
Poinsettia Heights President Mike Vondermeulen has recently announced by e-mail to many of the District’s leaders that he is exploring a run also, and will be in contact with them soon.
Glassman has been a long time, popular President of the CBA, and worked hard, alongside Rodstrom, in pushing for more restrictive building rules along the Fort Lauderdale beachfront. He was substantially credited for Rodstrom’s first successful run in 2006, when he and other beach activists turned out the beach vote in big numbers. Most of Glassman’s colleagues and supporters on the beach are opposed to new large high rise development.
But what a difference a few years can make. Glassman now says he is launching a “strong” bid for her job, and had this to say about her service over the last three years;
“her neighborhood neglect, unresponsiveness to the community and unbelievable lack of leadership” are the motivating factors behind his candidacy.
Glassman is a sharp professional bureaucrat, and will surely give Rodstrom heartburn along the campaign trail.
I’ll give you more on Rodstrom opposition as it becomes available.
The latest dust up over Mayoral candidate Steve Rossi’s inappropriate joke (see the last post if you missed it) at the Chamber of Commerce’s Mayoral debate last week got me thinking.
This guy just might win!
Afterall, the last few Mayors of Fort Lauderdale were very popular and have said some mighty crazy things!
Rossi cracking up at Chamber Debate
Take former Mayor Bob Cox for starters.
When asked by a fourth grader during an appearance at Dillard Elementary (a nearly all black school) what it took to be Mayor, Cox replied “anyone can be Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, you just need to be free, white, and 21″ ! Apparently Cox forgot what decade it was!
And Cox’s plan to control the homeless was to “put Kerosene in the dumpsters”.
And, then of course, you have our current Mayor – Jim Naugle.
Some of his Naugle’s colorful quips ;
” I use the word Homosexual. Most of them aren’t Gay, they’re unhappy!”
And Naugle on the ACLU,… “they’re the Atheists and Criminal Lobbying Union”.
And he refers to his City’s local newspaper (the Sun-Sentinel) as the Scum Sentinel!
So, …….. note to Rossi …. keep those zingers coming !
All four Fort Lauderdale Mayoral candidates met the business community early this morning at the Bahia Mar for a cordial debate. Here they are:
Steve Rossi Earl Rynerson
Jack Seiler Dean Trantalis
The function was arranged by the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and drew a room full of interested business owners and City big shots. Commissioners Teel and Rodstrom were in attendance as well as Commissioner Cindi Hutchinson, who dropped out of the Mayoral race last week, but drew a standing ovation from the crowd for her decade of service.
It appeared to be the first time many in the room had heard from the candidates, but the frank discussion surely helped them form opinions.
Below is a short compilation of some of their answers, the funniest (or weirdest)comments of the morning, and my take on who won this first round!
Questions and Answers
“How do we take the City from good to great?”
Rossi - wants the City to adopt “green technology”, a “green silicon valley type City”
Seiler – says we need to improve relationships with County,State and Feds, preserve and protect natural resources, plan future growth and development, and have the Mayor be the “public face” of tourism
Rynerson - says the City needs to develop more tourist “destinations”. Says some areas that could work would be South Andrews Business District, Sistrunk Blvd. (as a cultural area), and NE 13th St. Wants to fix the underdeveloped areas of the City
Trantalis - wants to make sure the City “embraces all the citizens”, bring down crime, and make all feel welcome.
“What is your position on future growth and development?”
Rynerson – He further developed his “destinations” plan, and says that the City government is always in “reactive mode” and needs to approach redevelopment and the vision for it proactively.
Seiler - says redevelopment is not a four letter word, wants to see where we need more redevelopment, but opposes zero lot line and encroachment of commercial into neighborhoods.
Trantalis - opposes more beach development, but wants to be a Mayor that “compromises,cajoles, and gets the Commission to work better together.” Says the City Manager “has not been given direction” on redevelopment
Rossi - says we should develop the tourists’ areas, and that the City needs to make tourism a year-round event.
Funniest (or weird) Comments:
Top award in this category goes to Rossi. In his opening comments, Rossi told the crowd that though they might not have heard his name, they knew his face since his lawyer advertisements were on all the bus benches around the county. And then he added (and probably wish he hadn’t), “more people have sat on my face then any candidate in the race!” You could hear an audible gasp.
Second place goes to Rynerson, a businessman, who after all his colleagues were introduced, who are all attorneys, said “ I guess that makes me the alternative to attorneys!”
And Rossi also wins third place – when describing how the homeless can be mainstreamed back into society, Rossi said that he had a client that was a Doctor that due to mental illness was living under a bridge. Rossi said that the Doctor “took one pill and was back to practicing medicine!”.
So who won Round One ? (in my humble opinion!)
Seiler won Round One. He came off as the most prepared and was totally at ease with the crowd. One civic activist called me just after the debate and said he went in uncommitted, but came out ” sold on Jack”.
Rynerson should be proud of his performance. As an unknown, he introduced himself to the group most professionally and showed he had been developing new ideas for the City.
Trantalis was off his game, but never count him out. He is very bright, and if he finds his voice, and figures out why he wants to be Mayor, could come on strong.
Rossi was entertaining!
So just after hitting the button on my last blog compiling the list of candidates for the Fort Lauderdale elections in March, the news came in:
Cindi Hutchinson drops out of Mayoral race!
The rumor had been around for a few weeks that Hutchinson was considering dropping out, but could not be confirmed.
State Representative and Fort Lauderdale Mayoral candidates Jack Seiler and former Commissioner Dean Trantalis will probably benefit most from Hutchinson’s departure, but that’s only conjecture at this point.
Seiler says that he was surprised by her announcement, and that she has had an “outstanding career” and shouldn’t be judged by “a mistake”, (referring to last summer’s inquiry into inappropriate campaign mailings coming out of Hutchinson’s campaign office). He says it won’t change the way he’s campaigning for the job – “one voter at a time”.
Mayoral candidate Earl Rynerson was also surprised at the news and said he thinks it makes the race “more interesting for sure”. He added that he believes that Hutchinson and Trantalis are responsible for the ballooning City Budgets over the last 5 years and that neither should be in the race. He says he is going to go after those who were loyal to Hutchinson and try to talk them into supporting him.
Rossi and Trantalis could not be reached at the time of this posting.
The Voters of Fort Lauderdale will finally get chance to substantially alter their City Commission in March 2009.
For the first time ever in the history of Fort Lauderdale, term limits will kick in, which will effectively remove three of the five members of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission. In the last 97 years since Fort Lauderdale’s incorporation in 1911, city politicians could serve and serve and serve some more! Incumbents have nearly always won re-election, and most left office only for reasons of death, relocation, or indictment!
This is how things are stacking up so far:
Mayor – The Mayoral seat opens after being held by Jim Naugle for 18 years. Naugle was first elected as a commissioner in 1985, which puts his tenure in elected office at 24 years. (Yikes!)
Five are currently vying for the post. They are:
City Commissioner Cindi Hutchinson - term limited as City Commissioner
State Representative Jack Seiler – term limited as State Rep.
Dean Trantalis – former one term City Commissioner
Earl Rynerson - local businessman and former San Francisco official
Steve Rossi - local lawyer best known for his advertisements on bus benches
There has been talk of others getting in the race, but even with the five already announced, a record has been set.
District I – this area covers most of the northern part of the City, and is widely believed to be the most affluent (and most Republican). It is currently represented by City Commissioner Christine Teel, who is running for re-election. If she wins, she will serve her last three year term, and be term limited herself. She has drawn two challengers so far;
Bruce Roberts - former Chief of Police
Inger Garcia - local lawyer and Galt Ocean Mile activist
District II - This District is the most diverse district, which swings through the beach, up Las Olas, through Victoria Park, and out into neighborhoods with serious crime problems and poorer immigrants. It is currently being served by first term Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom, and though no one has yet announced their intention to run against her yet, word is that these folks are probably getting in the race soon;
Steve Glassman – Central beach Alliance President
Mike Vondermulen - Poinsettia Hgts President
Howard Elfman - Victoria Park activist and local businessman
District III – This district encompasses the poorest parts of the City, and was configured to elect a black person to the historically all white Commissions. The current Commissioner Carlton Moore is term limited, ran for a County Commission seat and lost, and has resigned his City Commission seat effective November 4th. His seat will be filled by an appointment who will serve from November until the March election. There are currently four announced candidates for his seat and at least two others who are expected to jump in soon. They are;
Jimmy B. “O Glory” Witherspoon - local youth pastor (pictured below)
Bobby Dubose – local businessman
Cameron L. Mizell
and expected to join race soon -
Bernadette Norris-Weeks - local attorney and well known city activist
LaRhonda Ware – Dorsey Riverbend President
District IV - This district is the original Fort Lauderdale. Las Olas, Harbor Beach, and the rest of the areas south of the New River make up it’s constituency. It’s known to be more conservative, anti-growth, and houses most of the native Fort Lauderdalians. The open seat has attracted three candidates so far:
Romney Rogers – grandson of State Representative Rogers and local lawyer. Romney represents the conservative side of the district.
Coleman Prewitt - local lawyer and favorite of the city’s best known civic activists.
Jim Lewis - local lawyer and famous as the lawyer for Lionel Tate.
So that’s the scoop, as it exists today ! Twenty-one candidates and counting. But the week is young ! .. … Stay tuned!
Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley has returned to his roots. Due to some rather volatile circumstances in his personal life, Adderley needed to abruptly change his address recently!
He now lives just off Sistrunk Boulevard in the home he grew up in. With the recent passing of his Mom, and Adderley’s need for a fresh domicile, the fit couldn’t have been better. “I’m never leaving Fort Lauderdale again” , Adderley said .
Adderley grew up in the impoverished area when all blacks that grew up in Fort Lauderdale grew up off Sistrunk Boulevard. That’s where they were allowed to live.
Adderley excelled, joined the Police Force, and made his way all the way to the top, Chief of Police. He had been living a quiet peaceful life, commuting daily to his home in Plantation, but that was then, and this is now.
Adderley says he is working through his family matters, and hopes people will leave that private part of his life private.
Chief Adderley’s new circumstance might just be a boon for Fort Lauderdale. He is said to be working long hours, developing new strategies to fight Fort Lauderdale crime, and is even thinking about working one day a week as a Patrolman, to keep his finger on the pulse of the community. He says the neighbors come by his new home with problems, but he doesn’t mind. ” I took this job to make a difference” , Adderley explained.
In one ironic case, even the local thugs are being helpful. Reports have it that they chased off a news crew last week that were staking out Adderley’s house yelling “leave the Chief alone”.
I guess there is a silver lining to every dark cloud !