Wanted: New Commissioner for Fort Lauderdale

In early 2009, for the first time in nearly a decade, voters in District IV in Fort Lauderdale will go to the polls and choose a new Commissioner. The District has been represented by Commissioner Cindi Hutchinson since her win in 2000. She is now term-limited and running for the open Mayoral seat.

     District IV is one of Fort Lauderdale’s most diverse districts, with a mix of people, incomes, and issues, and is commonly believed to have the most active Civic Associations in the City. 

     The district is centered in the
Downtown, where a new, dense, urban lifestyle has created conflicts with some of the oldest neighborhoods in the City, including Sailboat Bend, Rio Vista, and Tarpon River.  The District also contains the southern portion of the Fort Lauderdale Beach, with it’s upscale neighborhoods of Harbor Beach, Harbour Isles, Harbour inlet, and Breakwater Surf Club. Rounding out the District are the mostly blue collar neighborhoods that run along the State Road 84 corridor, the Riverland Road area, and the areas along Davie Boulevard, where much of the City’s Hispanic population resides.

     So who is in the hunt to represent this cauldron? ….. It’s breaking down like this:

Jordan, 49, ran unsuccessfully (but strongly) for the Commissioner post in 2006. He garnered 42% of the vote in that run, and might be considered the frontrunner if he decides to get in. Jordan is a longtime civic activist, past President of the Sailboat Bend neighborhood and past Chairperson of the City’s Historic Preservation Board. He is largely considered to be a slow-growth candidate, and has worked hard on a citizen-led committee to adjust the Development Regulations in the City. Jordan says that he is not sure if he will get in the race. He says he is conferring with his team from the 2006 run, gauging the current political atmosphere, and deciding if he can once again put his family and his home remodeling and property development business on hold for a difficult political campaign. He is surely one to watch. 

Darin Lentner, 44, past President of the Imperial Point neighborhood, and the current Vice-President of the River Oaks neighborhood, made news this past year when he agreed to bow out of the race for State Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff’s seat, under pressure from Bogdanoff and the Republican party. It is rumored that Bogdanoff promised him support for a Fort Lauderdale City Commission try if he would get out of her race. Darin says that he thinks that serving the City is a better cause, and a post that might be more appropriate for a first-time elected official. He intends to jump into the race “in a few weeks.” He says he is neither “pro” or “anti” development, but has “friends who are developers, and friends who are environmentalists”. Lentner thinks the City needs a “new vision”, and by the looks of his success as a Partner in his law firm, and his sometimes hobby of marathon running, he is one not to count out in the coming sprint.

Coleman Prewitt, 41, a local lawyer with his own firm, has created quite a buzz in some civic circles in the past year. The One-Community Board member, die hard Citizen Volunteer Corp participant and joint UNITE Fort Lauderdale founder is planning a formal announcement and campaign kickoff event on March 25th at the Stone Packard Museum. Pruitt, who lives in the Las Olas Grande in Downtown, cites the difficult times ahead in the City as his reason for wanting to serve as Commissioner. He cites the challenge of maintaining Public Safety, promoting Economic Development, and bringing new jobs to the City, with the looming budget cuts, as a difficult job that needs special attention. He says he feels he is “up for the job.” Pruitt is gaining support from many of the well known civic activists in the District, which makes him a force to be reckoned with.

Ron Centamore, a former Fort Lauderdale Police Officer and current President of the Downtown Civic Association, has been widely expected to run for the seat, but rumors abound he has changed his mind and won’t make a go for it in this cycle.

Expect more candidates to appear before the full roster is complete. We will keep our ear to the ground and let you know as things develop…..

                                        Ciao, Tim

Who’s the Fatest Cat ?

The Mayor or the Commissioners
    Who owns more of Fort Lauderdale?              
    According to the Broward County Property Appraiser Records, the five members of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission own as much as 7 million dollars worth of Real Estate in Fort Lauderdale.
     This is how it breaks down.   
                          Christine Teel
     Commissioner Christine Teel wins the Real Estate value contest, with a home on the water assessed at $2,710,380 and a Co-op worth $119,710, for a joint value of $2,830,090. Teel represents District I, widely believed to be the District with the most wealth.


Teel Mansion

     Mayor Jim Naugle comes in second, with his home on the water worth $1,291,270 and a nearby condominium unit worth $490,810, racking up a combined value of $1,782,080. Naugle also owns numerous commercial properties on S. Andrews Ave, but that value, $1,520,060, is owned with partners, with his portion unclear, and was therefore not included in the value race with his Commission.
      Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom, who represents District II, a district which contains the very wealthy and the very poor, fits in the middle of the pack, with her home on the water in the prestigious Las Olas Isles community, valued at $1,371,550.
     Commissioner Carlton Moore, representing the poorest areas of the City, District III, owns a home valued at $191,020. Moore also owns a property jointly owned, worth $158,780, but as with Naugle, that property was not included in the value race.

                   Carlton Moore
     Lastly, Commissioner Cindi Hutchinson owns one half interest in a home valued at $258,690.


Who will be the next Mayor of Fort Lauderdale?

      One thing is for sure. There will be a new Mayor in Fort Lauderdale in 2009 for the first time since 1991. Term limits kick in next year!

     In 2000, voters overwhelming adopted term limits (proposed by Tim Smith) for the first time in the City’s history. The Mayor and Commissioners can serve three – three year terms. The term limits were not retroactive, but started with the adoption of the new law. The current Mayor, old what’s his name, has served as Mayor since 1991 (and served as a Commissioner before that since 1985), and will retire having been the longest serving Mayor in the City’s history.

     So the fight is on. Fort Lauderdale is the largest City in Broward County, with 170,000 + residents, and a daytime population that has been estimated to be nearly 500,000 people. The Fort Lauderdale Mayoral position is arguably the highest profile job in a County of over one and a half million people.

     Cindi Hutchinson,
a Fort Lauderdale Commissioner since 2000, is the only announced candidate so far. The primary election is scheduled for February of 2009, with a run-off election in March.

     Jack Seiler, is currently a State Representative in a District that serves much of Fort Lauderdale and served as Mayor of Wilton Manors before that. He has said publicly that he intends to get in the race, though as of yet has not declared.

     There is speculation about other candidates. Many believe that Romney Rogers,
grandson of U.S. Representative Dwight Rogers Sr., is eyeing the Mayor’s race. He is a neighbor of Jim Naugle, and is rumored to have been encouraged by Naugle to enter the race. Naugle’s endorsement could help a relatively unknown candidate such as Rogers in a crowded field.
     Other names being talked about include current Commissioners Teel and Rodstrom,
though both have said publicly that they intend to run for additional terms as Commissioners.
     Two former Commissioners, Aurelius and Trantalis
, are consistent rumors, though neither have motioned any intentions of jumping in. Lastly, many believe former Commissioner Tim Smith is positioning himself for a run, but has said publicly that him “chewing glass” sounded more plausible. 

     We will continue to monitor developments. Let me know what you think.



got opinions ?

    Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 2008

     Thanks for logging onto Tim Smith’s Fort lauderdale

     The site’s mission is to keep you informed about Fort Lauderdale: it’s government, it’s elected officials, and most importantly, it’s future. It’s an especially appropriate time to launch the site, as the municipal elections are going to take place about this time next year. Term limits are kicking in, and Fort Lauderdale will have a substantially new governing body.              

     The City has been engaged in a “Identity Crisis” for years, and this election might begin to define what we will be when we grow up! The City will have it’s 100th birthday in 2011, just three years away! 

 Now about your participation. It’s expected. It’s wanted. It’s a little scary! I’m sure you are reading on because you DO have opinions, and you DO want to be heard. And this will give you a new voice. Please comment on the issues of the day, the stories you read here, and other items you think we need to cover. Keep it clean, keep it short, and keep it interesting ! And before you leave, please subscribe (see left column at the bottom), so you will kept up to date on future postings !

                                                    ciao, Tim