From candidates publicly bickering on the dais to complaints being filed with the Florida Elections Commission, the Hallandale Beach mayoral race has veered from normal city politics to personal attacks.
Incumbent Joy Cooper is being challenged by Commissioner Keith London. Also in the race: write-in candidate Jay Schorr, whose name is not on the ballot. Schorr qualified with the city, but did not pay the $50 qualifying fee, which would have allowed his name to appear on the ballot.
Cooper and London often have spats at public meetings, but it came to a climax in April when London took out his camera and put it on the dais to video record Cooper. The mayor responded by cutting short discussion on an item and saying she would research whether videotaping her was legal.
According to the city attorney, it was.
Meanwhile, a resident filed a complaint with the Hallandale Beach City Attorney, saying London should be prosecuted because he is in violation of a Florida law that makes it illegal to co-habitate with a person of the opposite sex if they’re not married. She was told the complaint needs to be filed with the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
And another resident filed a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission, alleging Cooper accepted improper campaign contributions. The elections commission found the complaint sufficient and gave Cooper a chance to respond. Cooper said she has since fixed the problem.
Cooper has also filed several complaints with the election commission about her opponent. London, she said, is lying on his campaign literature about her voting record, using his personal credit card to fund campaign commercials and using his website to promote two other candidates.
Write-in candidate Schorr has also not been without controversy. In August, it was revealed that his wife, using her maiden name, was covering the Hallandale Beach election and attacking Cooper and London for Examiner.com.
Schorr has sent out fliers showing pictures of Cooper and London behind bars, alluding to a current investigation by the Broward County Inspector General of questionable city loans made by the city.
The commission race, on the other hand has been a little less contentious. Residents will be able to cast their votes for two of the six candidates. The third highest vote getter will finish out London’s term. He had to resign his seat to run for mayor.
Here is a look at the candidates:
Joy Cooper, 52, has served as mayor of Hallandale Beach since 2004. Despite public distrust toward city managers and funds, she said Hallandale Beach is one of the most fiscally sound communities in South Florida. If reelected, Cooper, who has lived in the city for 22 years, hopes to replace the main Fire Station, which was built in 1970, and establish a K-8 school in addition to upgrading Hallandale High School.
Keith London, 50, is a small business owner and 21-year resident of Hallandale Beach. If elected as mayor, London, who has been a commissioner since 2007, hopes to stop what he describes as the “pay to play” culture: wasting reserves, fees and tax money. He already has a reputation for voting “no’’ on most votes including the budget. His goals, London said, are to expand Hallandale’s mini-bus service, and upgrading and investing in parks and beaches.
Jay Schorr, 54, has worked in TV production for more than 30 years. He hopes to carry over his successful business experiences into the political arena. If elected as mayor, Schorr’s plan includes creating a citizens oversight committee and cutting city spending by 10 percent across the board. Schorr, who has lived in the city for 10 years, ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2005.
Gerald Dean, 58, is a community activist and small window decorating business owner. Dean, who has lived in the city for 44 years, has served on multiple community and recreational boards and also served on the City Charter board last year. If elected to the commission, Dean hopes to improve public administration practices and the city’s use of their budget.
Ann Pearl Henigson, 66, last ran for City Commission in 2008. A legal secretary, Henigson hopes to improve the street lights and expand shuttle service between Hallandale Beach and Miami-Dade County. As a Hallandale Beach resident for more than 12 years, she said she has been involved in the city’s beautification advisory board and ran for a seat on the commission in 2007 and 2008. Henigson also said she would forgo the $21 ,832.99 annual salary her first year in office.
William “Bill” Julian, 60, has more than a decade of political experience, including a seven-year stint as vice mayor. A resident since 1955, Julian, a retired business owner, says he has a track record of getting items passed, including an item to move general elections from March to November and an item to have all commissioners serve four-year terms instead of some serving two. If elected to the commission, Julian hopes to increase public safety awareness.
Csaba Kulin , 73, a Cleveland native, retired to Hallandale Beach in 2000. An information technology expert and president of his homeowner’s association, Kulin said he was appalled by the mismanagement of city taxes. If elected to the commission, Kulin will work to fix the city’s finances and also try to improve the traffic flow.
Michele Lazarow, 45, has lived in Hallandale for more than 12 years. A small boutique owner, Lazarow hopes to make changes to Hallandale’s $100 million budget by restraining spending and investing in infrastructure. Her first political involvement was when she worked with Commissioner Keith London on a pet shop ordinance banning stores that sell animals, which passed.
Anthony Sanders, 52, is the incumbent and has lived in western Hallandale Beach for most of his life. A pastor for more than 13 years, Sanders has served on the commission since September 2008. If elected to another term, he hopes to bridge the gap between east and west Hallandale through community projects and economic development.
In addition to the mayor and commission races, voters will have six charter questions as well.
Question One would change the way city commissioners are chosen. Currently, the top vote getters are elected to the commission. A vote yes would change it to a numbered system, where candidates would have to run for a particular seat.
Question Two asks voters if the city should require a Charter Review Committee. A vote yes would mean the city has to form a group of people to look at the city’s charter and see if anything needs to be changed every eight years — which is something already done, but not required by the charter.
Question Three looks at whether the city should be able to hire an internal auditor, if needed. A yes vote would give the city the option and allow the city commission to set the powers, duties and compensation for the auditor.
Question Four clarifies how the city attorney’s budget is handled. A yes vote means the city attorney will provide an annual budget for the commission. This is already done, but the change would make it clear that the city attorney’s budget is not controlled by the city manager.
Question Five deals with referendums. Currently, anyone who dislikes an ordinance has 60 days to turn in a petition to have a special election, which the commission must hold. A yes vote means there is no time frame for which a petition can be filed and the commission does not have to hold a special election.
Question Six would change how the city fills vacancies after a commissioner or the mayor leaves office for any reason. A yes vote means a vacancy will be declared as soon as a commissioner leaves. The changes would also delete the grounds for forfeiture of office, require that the vice mayor serve as mayor in case the mayor’s office is left vacant and allow the city commission to choose a successor by a lottery system if it cannot agree to a replacement within 30 days.