By: Sharon Aron Baron
The 2018 elections may only be a year away, but if you are even considering running for a seat on the Tamarac city commission, then you need to get your ducks in a row now because not only does it cost a lot of money, it takes time to knock on all those doors.
The City of Tamarac will have three seats on the November 2018 ballot including one for mayor and two for commission. If you are a civic-minded resident that truly cares about local government, this is the job for you.
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 $33,000 and the mayor makes $38,000 plus each get a hefty $700 monthly car allowance, travel expenses, health and life insurance, and a host of other benefits.
Harry Dressler is currently mayor and rumor has it he’s running again in 2018. He is self-employed and a resident of Woodmont Country Club. He won both elections unopposed for his city commission seat in district four back in 2006 and 2009. After former Mayor Beth Talabisco’s suspension, although Dressler was not vice mayor at the time, he was nominated as mayor after the current vice mayor, Michelle Gomez, declined the position. Dressler then completed Talabisco’s term and ran for mayor in 2014 where he defeated Michael Gelin.
Pros: Intelligent. Firm grasp of issues and no legal controversies while he has been mayor.
Cons: Lack of humor, humility, and not communicative with constituents. His two trips to Harvard for continuing education classes costing taxpayers $12,000 a pop may also hurt him at the polls. In addition, residents may not forget when he kept quiet about the proposed charter school in the backyards of Kings Point residents. He knew this all while courting them to get elected, then refusing to discuss with them at all by saying he legally couldn’t. Dressler is also rumored to be a Trump supporter and Republican although he is registered as a Democrat and attends Democratic Club meetings to appease his voting base.
Also, running for the mayoral seat is Gerald Heller of Kings Point. Heller ran for the district 3 seat in 2016 in a multi-candidate race and lost to Julie Fishman.
Pros: He has over 40 years as a business leader and employer in Broward County and fought hard against the proposed charter school that was planned on public park land at the Tamarac Sports complex.
Cons: May lack the money and backers to carry him in a city-wide race. At the age of 81, will Heller have the stamina to fundraise and knock on doors?
Michelle Gomez, is currently the district two commissioner. So far, there are no opponents for this seat and rumors are flying that she is gearing up to run as mayor. If she does, district two will have an open seat.
Gomez is an attorney, who resides in the Woodlands Country Club and was appointed twice to fill in for former commissioner Patte Atkins-Grad after she was suspended. She was elected in 2014 when she defeated Stewart Webster.
Pros: Appears well-liked by some in her district and attends local meetings.
Cons: A former Republican that switched to being an Independent to run in her mostly Democratic district, Gomez is defensive and combative on the dais and never had the backing of fellow commissioners for items in her own district until Julie Fishman was elected. Gomez also has a hard time socializing with people that she is not familiar with. Although financially secure, she refused to give up her $700 monthly car allowance when asked to even consider discussing the item further.
No word if Vice Mayor Debra Placko will be running again, but my guess is she will. Her district covers the Woodmont Country Club and the Sunflower-Heathgate area. Placko lives in Woodmont’s Palm Ridge community is retired after working at JByrons clothing store for 15 years. She ran unopposed in 2014 and there isn’t any reason why no one is qualified to run against her.
Pros: Professional and articulate as well as charitable.
Cons: Residents in Woodmont could be still angry after she turned her back on them by voting yes to putting the maintenance building behind their homes off a very busy street. Also, Placko refused to give up her $700 car monthly car allowance when asked to even consider discussing the item further.
If you are interested in running for mayor, you can live anywhere in the city, however, if you want to run for city commission, you must live in either district two or four. Next, you will need to find a campaign treasurer open a campaign account. More importantly, you will need to contact City Clerk Pat Tuefel for filing instructions.
Residents deserve a choice in selecting their elected officials. When no one files and runs against the current commissioners, residents do not get that choice.