First Mayoral Debate – A Recap !

     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!