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

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