Two county commission seats are in play in Broward County. Here are our recommendations in the Democratic Party primary:
The new District 7 contains about one-third of the old District 4, but many voters in this closed Democratic primary will see three familiar names on the ballot in the race to replace term-limited John Rodstrom.
Charlotte Rodstrom, 59, the incumbent’s spouse, has been a Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner since 2006. Ken Keechl, 49, is a former District 4 commissioner who also held the ceremonial title of mayor before losing a race for reelection in 2010. And Timothy Ryan, 56, was a state representative from 1998-2006.
In his last term, Mr. Keechl, who represented a coastal district, generally received positive reviews.
He supported ethics reform and displayed leadership in pushing for a badly needed new courthouse despite popular opposition. But the disclosure that he rented his campaign headquarters from his domestic partner contributed to his defeat. He believes the county’s budget is “basically where we need to be.”
Mr. Ryan touts his experience in the Legislature, where he sponsored and passed an ethics reform bill. He disagrees with both opponents on the issue of budgeting, saying more efficiencies are still to be found in the county’s budget. He says zero-based budgeting is the way to get there.
Ms. Rodstrom emphasizes her experience on both the Fort Lauderdale City Commission and as vice chair of the the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). She also believes the county is doing well in terms of spending during this drawn-out economic downturn and notes that over four years the general fund budget has gone from $1.1 billion to $750 million.
Still, she says, there’s room for efficiencies, criticizing the expenditure of money on “eclectic pieces of art.”
In a meeting with the Editorial Board, Ms. Rodstrom also cited public safety as an important issue for voters. She said closure of the stockade has put people with minor infractions into the county’s crowded jail and that the focus, instead, should be “putting the bad guys in jail” and putting more law-enforcement resources into high-crime areas.
Ms. Rodstrom gets the edge in this race due to her work on the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, where she grappled with problems affecting urban residents, and the MPO, which has given her a broader view of regional issues.
For Broward County Commissioner in District 7, Democratic primary, The Herald recommends CHARLOTTE RODSTROM.
Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness faces Robert McKinzie, 50, a construction company owner who has run unsuccessfully for a commission seat twice since 2004.
Our choice in the Democratic primary is Mr. Holness, 55, a Realtor and former Lauderhill city commissioner elected to the county post in 2010.
Mr. Holness can rattle off his district’s statistics on poverty and unemployment just as quickly as he can enumerate potential solutions to energize Broward’s economy. He sees expanding tourism to Latin America and the Caribbean as a natural fit in a county that has a growing seaport for cruise ships and where half the travelers leaving Broward’s major airport are heading to the Caribbean.
Having worked hard to lure a cricket championship to Broward, Mr. Holness has the energy and vision his district needs.
He is looking for funding through the county’s bed tax to build a convention center and hotel and pushing for a gospel center to attract African-American visitors and other niche national markets.
Mr. Holness has faced some legal issues involving a rental home, which he says is getting cleared up. In a county where voters have seen various public officials leave their offices in disgrace, including Mr. Holness’ predecessor, Josephus Eggelletion convicted in a bribery corruption case, the commissioner should be vigilant about setting an example of no shortcuts in his own personal finances.
Nevertheless, Mr. Holness deserves another term based on his knowledge of the district and his work as a member of the Work Force One Development Board to align job training with the county’s needs.
For Broward County Commission, District 9, Democratic primary, The Herald recommends DALE V.C. HOLNESS.