COUNTY COMMISSION District 4
Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca has done well by the county and his District 4 constituents during his first term. His opponent is former Commissioner Ken Keechl, whom he beat in 2010. Though Mr. Keechl says that the incumbent “has not done much,” we disagree. Mr. LaMarca has earned re-election.
Mr. LaMarca has been smart to take on beach renourishment and port expansion as his priorities, issues that not only help his district but are also vitally important to the entire county. After all, no beaches, no tourists; no viable port, then an economic engine slows down. Mr. LaMarca, 46, says that visitors leave $11 billion a year in Broward County, and its beaches are a big draw. It is a big deal. District 4, which comprises Hillsboro Beach, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Oakland Park, Fort Lauderdale and other areas, includes 18 miles of beachfront.
Mr. LaMarca says that he supports projects to make the area more resilient against the effects of climate change and that, post-Hurricane Sandy, he helped bring funds from Florida’s Department of Transportation to install a sheet-pile wall to protect State Road AIA, which was flooded in the storm. Good to hear, considering his 2012 vote against a plan that incorporates climate-change considerations into development and infrastructure decisions.
Mr. Keechl, an attorney, is seeking his former seat, after moving from the district a few years ago to seek yet another commission seat. Mr. Keechl is still dogged by questions of inappropriate use of campaign funds during a previous run. Mr. LaMarca has been upfront about a foreclosure on his home a few years back, when his construction business took a hit during the recession, something to which many residents can relate.
For Broward County Commission, District 4, the Miami Herald recommends CHIP LaMARCA.
CIRCUIT COURT GROUP 16
The race for this open judicial seat attracted four candidates in the first round. When the smoke cleared, Rhoda Sokoloff, 61, and Dennis Bailey, 58, were left to face each other in a runoff after she took 29.3 percent of the total vote and he took 27.3 percent.
Ms. Sokoloff, who obtained her law degree in 1999, is persistent. This is her third race, and she makes clear that her professional goal has always been to become a judge. Her main area of practice is family law, dependency and juvenile cases. A compendium of cases she provided to the Editorial Board comprised hundreds of dispositions, mostly in family court.
Mr. Bailey, a lawyer for 29 years, has significantly broader experience in both civil and criminal law. He is a former prosecutor who has also tried numerous cases around the state as a defense attorney. Mr. Bailey says although he enjoys private practice, he misses his “altruistic” days as a prosecutor when he “fought for truth and justice.”
“I have a busy statewide trial practice, which reveals to me how the courts are functioning from Key West to the Panhandle, both the good and the bad,” he told the Editorial Board. “I believe I can have a very positive impact in how justice is administered here in Broward County.”
We agree. Mr. Bailey’s reputation as an able attorney and the breadth of his experience in the courtroom give him the edge in this race. For Broward Circuit Court, Group 16, the Herald recommends DENNIS BAILEY.
CHILDREN’S SERVICES COUNCIL
The Children’s Services Council of Broward County is the force behind the agencies and organizations doing the hard work of keeping Broward County’s vulnerable children and youth out of trouble, healthy, better educated and on the road to a life of accomplishment and productivity.
All of that takes funding, and when creating the Council was put before voters in 2000, they said Yes overwhelmingly. Broward voters wisely agreed to add a line to their property tax bills, and as a result the Council gets about $65 million a year.
In 2010, the state Legislature required similar councils throughout the state to be reauthorized, so this year, Broward’s Children’s Services Council is on the ballot to be re-upped.
Voters should not hesitate to say Yes again. This is not a new tax, simply a continuance of what already exists. The agency says that it touches the lives of one in four children in the county, funding the service providers that help teens aging out of foster care; offer early childhood and afterschool programming; reach out to new mothers struggling with depression; and offer a host of other services.
Of the funding that the CSC receives, administrators say that 96 percent goes to services, clearly an efficient use of the money it gets. The Herald recommends voting YES to reauthorize the Children’s Services Council.