By: Sharon Aron Baron
In a surprising announcement on Monday morning, Tamarac Mayor Harry Dressler said he wouldn’t be seeking reelection in November.
He told the commission that with the political cycle about to begin, he and his wife discussed the best decision to make for the next few years. He decided his priority would be to spend more time with his wife and grandchildren.
“As a result of my family’s decision, I’m announcing my retirement from public life at the end of my current term and will not be a candidate for reelection as mayor in the city of Tamarac.”
Dressler served as a city commissioner since 2006 and was appointed mayor in 2014 after then-Vice Mayor Michelle Gomez passed over the position to him. He was then elected later that year.
“I’ve been honored to have been elected several times by the wonderful people of Tamarac, my last years as mayor. I am proud of the role I have played working with the residents, community groups, professional staff, and employees of this city government,” said Dressler.
This opens the door for an open seat on November 6. According to city spokeswoman Elise Boston, two people had already filed before the announcement: Gerald Heller and Elvin Villalobos. Vice Mayor Michelle Gomez just announced that she would be running.
Once in the running for reelection for her seat in district two, Gomez has now filed to run for the mayor’s seat. Gomez, an attorney, was appointed in 2013 to fill the seat after City Commissioner Patte Atkins-Grad was suspended from office and then again after Atkins-Grad resigned after a successful recall effort. Residents in her district elected Gomez in 2014. She lives in the Woodlands Country Club, where she is actively working with residents and 13th Floor homes to sell two 18-hole golf courses to make way for new homes. Currently, Gomez is in D.C. attending a three-day Congressional City Conference for the League of Cities along with Commissioner Julie Fishman.
Gerald Heller, who announced his candidacy for mayor last year, was surprised at the news. “My Lord, is that right? Said Heller. “You know, it’s not surprising to me. I’m not shocked. I’m not surprised. I didn’t anticipate it, but I think it’s good news.”
Heller, originally from Brooklyn, ran for the city commission in 2016 and lost against Julie Fishman. He said he will now start to actively raise funds and campaign to have a reasonable chance to become mayor.
With over 40 years as a business owner of eight public and private companies in the U.S. and abroad, Heller was an active force fighting against the Academica Charter school proposed on seven acres of a public park near the Kings Point community back in 2015.
Elvin Villalobos, originally from Nicaragua, lived in Miami until he moved to Tamarac two years ago. He works from home as a distributor for filters and has five employees. He has been the president of the Banyan Lakes homeowner’s association for over a year and serves on the board of the parks committee in Tamarac. Villalobos graduated with an online degree from Keiser University in political science and watched city commission meetings online. “I love the community. I love serving people. I love doing things that meet the needs of people,” he said.
Villalobos believes in fiscal responsibility and said that he wants to rescind the $700 car allowance, and as mayor, he would forgo his own car allowance.