District II Political Debate

    For those who like political debates, the Central Beach political debate at the B Hotel last Monday night was a doozy!

    
It was the second debate for candidates for the open seat of District II in Fort Lauderdale. District II is an odd political district, rich and poor, starting at the beach, up through the Las Olas Isles, through Victoria Park, and west to some troubled neighborhoods.

     I represented this district and labeled it the Bermuda Triangle of political districts – most politicians flew in, crashed, and were never heard of again ( I broke that trend .


     

     The debate started as they usually do. The moderator, beach President John Weaver, thanked the crowd and went over the ground rules. Each candidate would have two minutes for an opening statement, then there would be some “uncomfortable” questions for each candidate to start off the evening.

     The crowd was intrigued!

     Former Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom was asked to start off with her two minute opening statement. She offered the expected, I was your Commissioner, I was successful at it, I want to finish the term I had to leave to run at the County level ….. and then –

     …… “and there is another meeting down the road about the beach erosion, so I’ll have to leave now” ……..


       

     ….. and out she went !


       

     There was an air of disbelief in the room. The remaining candidates spread out and gave themselves some more elbow room on the dais, and candidate Dean Trantalis asked the moderator if it would be alright to remove the Rodstrom name-tag from the dais. There was muffled laughter.

     The three remaining candiates gave their usual opening statements and then the first question came from the moderator.

     “The first question is for Charlotte Rodstrom, and she just left, but I’m going to ask the question regardless – “Ms. Rodstrom, you resigned your City Commission job just weeks after winning to run for the County Commission post. That move will cost the City $250,000 for this special election – how do you respond?”

     The moderator then said – “Ms. Rodstrom is not here to answer that question, but the rules call for a one minute rebuttal from any of the challengers, would any of you like to rebut?” ….
    
     Rebut they did!

     Each of the other candidates had tough questions prepared for them also….

 They asked Trantalis why they should elect him to a seat that he only served one term on, and resigned citing personal conflicts with that same job…

     Trantalis said he had decided not to run for re-election then as his father was dying and he thinks he made the right decision…. He continued that he was the only candidate that could hit the ground running, said District II had immediate needs and that he could best tackle them.


 They asked Chuck Black how he thought he could be competitive when no one seemed to know him. Black humorously quipped, “look at this face, I’m an everyday guy” (inferring that everyone knew him). He went on to promote his military service, world experience,  and his ability to commit to a tough job.


 They asked  Lester Zalewski about him being removed from their very own Board. Zalewski countered that there were members of the Board whom he had conflicts with, but that the residents in the area felt a different way about him.
 
     Zalewski went on to point to his extensive record in business and entrepreneurialism. He said he was a rebel, but that’s what City Hall needed. 

     They finished with their concluding comments, all except for Rodstrom!