The Herald recommends: For Broward County Commission

07/31/2014 7:51 PM

09/17/2014 3:25 PM

DISTRICT 6

The two men vying to fill this seat are both accomplished, engaging politicians and public servants. Joe Gibbons has served admirably in the state Legislature since 2006 and has brought home solid benefits to his coast-hugging district — and to the county. He says that he secured $1.4 billion for Broward as ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee. He is now up against term limits, as is Broward Commissioner Suzanne Gunzberger, who is leaving this seat.

Quentin “Beam” Furr is a long-time activist whose focus is on grassroots issues, creating partnerships as a resident of a lower and middle-income community to bring childcare services and jobs to the area. His activism led him to run for office and he was a Hollywood commissioner from 2000 to 2012. He now seeks to step up to the County Commission.

Both men have a clear, on-target vision on the county’s needs — and both know how to get things done. Mr. Gibbons, 65, rightly cites the need to make major investments in port and airport development and infrastructure needs; he is concerned about how the county handles procurement and knows that beach renourishment is key to Broward’s economic vitality. Mr. Gibbons’ tenure in the Legislature has helped him see both the big picture and the details of the challenges the county faces.

However, we give the edge to Mr. Furr, 59, whose hands-on, grassroots work on behalf of his constituents has earned him the chance to bring those efforts to higher office. He homes in on the issues that will make an everyday difference in people’s lives: He would tackle saltwater intrusion issues, saying both the environment and job creation would be enhanced. He supports building along existing transit corridors to help relieve residents’ burden of housing and transportation costs. He sees this as a spur to build workforce housing. He also makes the smart link between job creation and crime reduction.

For Broward County Commission, District 6, the Miami Herald recommends QUENTIN “BEAM” FURR.

DISTRICT 8

Alexandra Davis, a Miramar City commissioner, is looking to follow in the footsteps of Broward County Commissioner and Mayor Barbara Sharief, who, too, served on the Miramar dais. In fact, Ms Davis wants to assume Ms. Sharief’s very seat and seeks to replace her on the County Commission.

Ms. Davis, 51, says that she is pursuing this position with “passion and purpose.” As an elected official in Miramar, she created Caribfest Inc., which she said helped build bridges among the members of the city’s diverse population. The annual celebration of Caribbean culture lasted for seven years. She says she also pushed through new municipal procurement rules to help local business and encourage economic development.

She says that too many elected officials, and specifically Ms. Sharief, are not visible in her community, “not connecting with the people.”

Ms. Sharief, of course, begs to differ. She says that she has not only been visible, she has held foreclosure information workshops in Ms. Davis’ community. She says that she has always represented the interests of Broward residents, looking for progressive ways to battle blight in some neighborhoods and stopped foreclosures by helping threatened residents access information and by engaging the Broward Sheriff’s Office. She also says that she has nurtured job growth by requiring contractors to hire locally.

Ms. Sharief, 41, has good things to say about Sheriff Scott Israel’s civil-citation program, which prevents funneling troubled — and troublesome — youths into the justice system, without giving them a free pass, either. She says that the county has realized $1.5 million in savings in costs to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

She recognizes the importance of a robust seaport and airport, though she, like other officials, acknowledge that the flawed design of Ramp G might not be fixable.

Both women support strong ethics laws to guide elected officials on a dais that has seen too many commissioners fall to criminal violations. Ms. Sharief is currently fighting an ethics complaint filed by Fred Messer, a Pompano Beach private investigator, alleging that she failed to list some sources of income on financial disclosure forms. The complaint was filed last fall with the Florida Commission on Ethics and the Broward State Attorney.

Ms. Sharief cites a clerical error and says that the complaint is a vendetta for her vote against a budget increase for the property appraiser’s office. The issue has not yet been resolved. However, she has done enough of a good job for constituents that the Miami Herald recommends BARBARA SHARIEF for Broward County Commission, District 8.

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