One objective I had after my election was to increase resident interaction. I was a journalist at the Sun-Sentinel for 30 years, and use my abilities to listen and understand all points of view to find the best possible options for our residents. The spirit of cooperation has improved in recent years and I take some credit for that. Attitude does make a difference.
But I’ve also spent every day learning as much as possible. I follow what other city councils do, I tap into the incredible resources of the Florida League of Cities and attend every webinar, workshop and presentation possible. So, naturally, my priorities have experienced a maturation process.
Anti-development cries from the public escalated in 2020, when Plantation Acres resident Ric Roth created a “Save Our Acres” campaign to thwart a project on his street. The council has listened and the last three project proposals have been either delayed, decreased or denied.
- We delayed the Reflections in the Acres proposal as the developer sought to use Flex Units as an exception to the density guidelines. The council has decided we need a more comprehensive look at our flex use and will study how this procedure affects the city as a whole.
- We decreased a proposal for Lennar to build more than 100 townhomes on a property owned by the School Board at Hiatus Road and Broward Boulevard. The result is now that 38 single-family homes will be built there instead.
- And we recently denied a developer’s request for apartments at 8601 W. Sunrise Blvd., a property abandoned by AT&T.
The infuriating part of all three of these proposals (in my opinion) is that residents feel like these projects were snuck past them to council. Lynn Stoner wasn’t out publicly telling the public why she thought her staff supported approval on these projects.
I will put the brakes on development, but no one can say we will have zero development. We need to balance the affordable housing challenge, for example, with traffic and residents’ wishes.
As mayor, if I think a proposal is overreaching, I will ask it to be reworked before it gets pushed along to planning and zoning and then to the city council. As mayor, I will vet the projects first.
That said, when I do have a proposal I think is worthwhile, I will tell you all to your face.
PUBLIC SAFETY AND MORE
These thoughts are connected, when you think about it. We want good policing, we want our codes and regulations followed and, well, we want Plantation to be a nice place to live.
There has been a recent spike in party homes. Granted, some vacation rental owners are good people and are responsible. But too many homes are becoming nightmares to their neighbors. I want to better coordinate code enforcement, police and Planning and Zoning to make for the tightest rules on party homes.
Other residents have complained about inconsistent code enforcement, especially in Plantation Acres and the Breezeswept Park East neighborhoods. I want to make sure our police and those departments are properly staffed, while, still being mindful of not micromanaging. There’s a reason upper management in police is there. I will be respectful of how they verbalize their challenges. But, yes, I’m going to push them some.
I’m very comfortable with how our fire department is formatted. And our EMS. I am especially impressed with how our fire department works on fire prevention… we have fewer fires now than we used to. They get a big chunk of the credit for that.
Plantation is one of the county’s best at being a full-service police operation. But we can help our civil servants. I encourage more get-to-know-your-neighbors activities, which help reduce crime. I also would like to have more activities for students near our high schools and middle schools, to keep our teens busier during the afternoon.
I also ask residents to punch in 954-797-2100, the city’s non-emergency number, into their phones for future use. So if you’re reading this, do that now! (If you happened to be at one of my presentations on city issues, you know that’s a pet suggestion of mine.) I have spent an extensive amount of time, also, weighing our police protocols. And although I’m comfortable with our procedures, this topic will remain on my radar.
My four years as a council member display that I am a responsive, level-headed extrovert that is passionate about being a public servant. Almost every day, a resident contacts me with questions ranging from sidewalks to why the project at the Broward Mall has been an eyesore for two years. I peel back the curtain of government to answer, and I’ll continue to do so as mayor. I plan to establish weekly office hours for the public to converse with me.
My opponent can cite things she has done in her term, and that’s what you’d expect from the job. But clouding any accomplishments are her problems with honesty and ethics that disqualify her for the office. I wish that were not the case. The Broward Inspector General found that my opponent overspent her bank account in the 2018 election then tried to hide it by doctoring her campaign reports. Meanwhile, an employee survey found only 38 percent had confidence in her, well below the numbers for immediate supervisors. See supporting material at tinyurl.com/PlantationDocuments. These are among the reasons I gave up two years of my council term to challenge her.
I would lead our city differently than what I’ve witnessed in the last four years. I will be the city’s quarterback, directing with input from many talented department heads, staff and residents. My soft skills surpass my opponent’s and my knowledge of the job specifics grew rapidly through Florida League of Cities trainings and experience. In my prior career I often started with a blank sheet of paper in the morning and had to figure things out by 6 p.m. That skill is exceedingly valuable for this job. My package of abilities makes the job of mayor a perfect fit for me.
I’m a natural leader who has the skills and knowledge people respect and want to work with. I am honest, open and communicate with residents. I know how to listen. I encourage people to do their best. I am approachable. When there is a crisis, I will step forward and tell the community what is happening. As a former journalist, I am trained to study all sides of an issue before making a decision. I can admit when I make a mistake. I will rely on the experts and make the final call. I have made allies with other government leaders and we learn from each other. I will work with council members to get their priorities accomplished.
I will bring new energy and attitude to City Hall, and we will attract talented employees. This will provide our residents with very good customer service. I will be honest and transparent with city business and be a leader people will look to in good times and in crisis. As an active council member for four years who has been involved with all aspects of our city, I am ready and prepared to be mayor.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Nick Sortal for Plantation Mayor