This Editorial was originally published in the Sun Sentinel
By: Sharon Aron Baron
Local government has the greatest impact on our quality of life in the city and the current state of apathy is not helpful to a democracy. That is why we need residents to step up to the plate and run for office in 2014.
There will be three seats up for grabs next November in Tamarac, and so far, only two people have expressed an interest for only one of the positions. Residents that are interested should file soon so voters know they will have a choice.
These are lucrative “part-time” jobs as well, so it would be a shame if any of these candidates ran unopposed. For instance, a commissioner in Tamarac makes $29,000 and the mayor makes $34,000 plus each get a hefty $700 a month car allowance. This isn’t including all the other perks as well.
Mayor Beth Talabisco, along with Commissioners Michelle Gomez and Harry Dressler from Districts Two and Four will all be up for reelection in 2014. However, according to the City Clerk’s office, only District Two residents will have a choice among two candidates that have filed to run: Michelle Gomez and Stewart Webster.
Commissioner Michelle Gomez, an attorney with Saunders, Curtis, Ginestra & Gore, P.A., was appointed twice to fill in for Patte Atkins-Grad. First during Atkins-Grad’s suspension from office by Rick Scott, then a second time after Commissioner Atkins-Grad resigned just weeks before a recall election would be held. Gomez has never been elected by the residents of District Two. Stewart Webster is a Tax Preparer, with a long history of community involvement, including running for the school board back in 2010.
Gomez may have an advantage because she is the current sitting commissioner and was recently appointed Vice Mayor. However, she has yet to prove that she can think independently outside the rest of the commission and that she can bring forth any change for her district.
Mayor Beth Talabisco hasn’t yet announced her intention to run, possibly due to pending legal issues. In July, an appeals court ruled that Judge Imperato was wrong when she threw out corruption charges against her.
Talabisco’s legal issues have overshadowed her mayoral position the last few years after she was arrested, suspended, then cleared and reinstated.
Commissioner Harry Dressler won both elections in 2006 and 2009 unopposed. He works for his own business, Dressler Strategic Advisors, Inc., where his profile says he is an “Independent Investment Research and Expert Witness.” Dressler, who is often intolerant of both public input as well as dissension from opposing views on the dais could possibly serve 12 years without ever being on the ballot if no one in his district comes forward and runs for office.
As residents, we deserve a choice in selecting our elected officials. When no one files and runs against the current commissioners, residents do not get that choice.
If you are interested in running for mayor, you can live anywhere in the city, however, if you would like to become a commissioner, you must live in either District Two or Four.
Next, you will need to open a campaign account and find a campaign treasurer. Contact Pat Tuefel with the City Clerk’s office for more information.
Let’s give residents a real voice in the elections by giving them a choice in who represents them in Tamarac’s government.