District 2 voters go to the polls Tuesday to fill the vacancy created when their commissioner, Charlotte Rodstrom, was forced to give up her seat because she ran for the Broward County commission.
Rodstrom lost the county race and is now one of four candidates in the special election.
The other candidates — former Commissioner Dean Trantalis and businessmen Chuck Black and Lester Zalewski — have criticized Rodstrom for potentially costing taxpayers more than $225,000 to run a special election, given that Rodstrom announced her interest in the county position, just weeks after being elected to a third term in January.
Rodstrom said she didn't know she was going to seek the county post until the county's new district boundaries were finalized. She said she wanted to keep a Fort Lauderdale resident on the nine-member county board, which now has none.
The winner of the special election will complete the last two years of the three-year term. If no candidate wins more than half the vote Tuesday, the top two finishers will compete in a March 12 runoff for the $30,000-a-year position.
District 2 generally includes the beach area from Oakland Park Boulevard to the south beach parking lot, the isle communities north and south of Las Olas Boulevard, and all or part of the Poinsettia Heights, Victoria Park, Middle River Terrace, Bal Harbour, Lake Ridge, South Middle River, Flagler Village, Progresso Village, Sunrise Key and City View neighborhoods.
Trantalis became the city's first openly gay commissioner in 2003, but didn't seek re-election. He doesn't think enough has been done to deal with "unfettered crime" and the impact of the homeless on neighborhoods. He wants the city attorney vacancy filled with someone having experience in the legal issues surrounding the homeless.
"I feel the city allows them to wander the streets and the parks like the sacred cows of Mumbai and that has got to stop," Trantalis said.
Trantalis wants to codify standards that would reduce the height of future beach development and supports more greenspace on the beach. He also said he will try to reverse the city's borrowing of $337.9 million last year for bonds to shore up its pension funds.
Black had a 20-year naval career and then was a yacht broker before owning a signs and graphics company. He said the commission is lacking the business background he brings.
"There's a golden opportunity for us to generate new revenue by making our permitting process faster and more efficient," Black said. "Our budget really is something I'm going to take a hard look at from a business perspective."
Black's priorities include public safety, addressing beach erosion and putting more emphasis on neighborhoods.
Black thinks any additional parking on the beach needs to be closer to Sunrise Boulevard. He also supports a trolley system that would link beach areas and extend from the Galleria Mall to the south beach parking lot.
Zalewski, who finished third in the District 2 race last year, said he gives voters a choice between three business-as-usual candidates and someone who won't take campaign contributions, who would treat all employees equally and who would work to bring economic development and jobs to the city.
"I'm the bottom-line candidate that's running against the status quo," Zalewski said.
Zalewski criticized the city for not having a cohesive approach to dealing with abandoned homes. He also said city growth should not just be condominiums, but should include light-industrial to high-tech businesses.
Rodstrom said she was looking out for the interests of the city when she ran for the county commission and wants to continue addressing the financial issues facing the city. She points to her part in the city holding the line on taxes and the budget the past three years.
"You can't do anything without the money and you can't put the burden on the taxpayers," said Rodstrom, who opposed the city's pension bonds and is concerned some of City Manager Lee Feldman's tactics for addressing budget problems are not good policy.
On the beach, Rodstrom said too much traffic is being pushed out Las Olas Boulevard onto the southern end of the beach and she would like to see Sunrise Boulevard used as the beach gateway.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4556
Personal: Married, one son, one grandson
Education: Bachelor's degree in business administration, University of Maryland, 1997; diploma in acting, National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, 1994
Occupation: Owner, Signs by Tomorrow franchise; served in U.S. Navy, 1974-94, retired as Navy Senior Chief
Political career: None
Civic activities: Former president, Lake Ridge Civic Association; board of directors, Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce; board of directors, Riverwalk Trust; South Florida area president, Navy League of the United States; former chairman, Leadership Fort Lauderdale curriculum development; former chairman, USS Jason Dunham and USCGC Richard Etheridge commissionings
Personal: Married, three children
Education: Graduated from Stranahan High, 1971; undergraduate coursework at Centenary College in New Jersey
Occupation: Community activist, rental property manager, former flight attendant
Political career: City commissioner, 2006-12; ran for Broward County Commission in 2012
Civic activities: Former vice chairman, Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization; former board of directors, Stranahan House; past-president, Nurmi Isles Homeowner Association
Education: Bachelor's degree in political science, Boston University, 1975; law degree, Stetson University, 1979
Political career: City commissioner, 2003-06; ran for mayor in 2009
Civic activities: Small business award recipient, Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce; board member, Broward House; president, Riviera Towers Cooperative Association; past president, Dolphin Democrats; member, Broward Trust for Historic Preservation; former member, Citizens Police Review Board
Education: Graduated from Kelly High School, Chicago, 1975; undergraduate coursework at Northeastern Illinois University
Occupation: Owner-operator, community association management company, Lauderdale Beach Management; served in U.S. Army, 1975-79, Specialist 4 combat engineer
Political experience: Ran for commission in 2012
Civics activities: Former vice president, Central Beach Alliance; former board member, Illini [Homeowners] AssociationCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times