Tamarac Residents Learn More About 9 Candidates at Chamber Event

By Agrippina Fadel

There are ten candidates on the November ballot, and residents had an opportunity to get to know nine of them at the Meet the Candidates event hosted by the Tamarac North Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce.

According to the Chamber, over 100 constituents attended the Oct 11 event at Woodmont Country Club.

Morey Wright, running for District 2 commissioner seat, did not attend the event, later stating he was “under the weather.” Kicia Daniel,  a District 4 candidate, arrived an hour late but was still able to participate.

The candidates had four minutes to introduce themselves and answer two randomly selected questions from the residents. The chamber staff collected the questions ahead of time, and the hosts gave the speakers 45 seconds to answer.

Stephanie Franco

The order in which the candidates approached the podium was also random, with Peter Mason, Chamber’s Executive Director, asking the audience members to pull a name out of the box.

Alexandra Alverez

Businesswoman Alexandra Alvarez, a District 2 candidate, told the audience her priorities are quality of life in Tamarac, low city taxes so her fellow educators can afford to live there, and safe communities (Alvarez and her son were victims of a burglary in 2017).

She represents single divorced mothers and educators, which makes her a unique candidate on the ballot. If elected, one of her goals would be a city-wide initiative to help residents have their voices heard.

Tyneka Rene

Small business owner and veteran Tyneka Rene, another District 2 candidate, said owning a beauty salon in the city allows her to talk to residents and “get all the dirt” about local events and politics. She was the first candidate to enter the race in February and said she lives by the principle, “if not me, then who?”

When asked about the Woodlands development issue, Rene, who lives in the community, said she still remembers the functioning golf course and hopes, should the current proposal not go through, another developer can come in and offer a project to keep the course intact or at the very least build fewer homes than proposed by the 13th Floor.

Carol Mendelson

Retired Broward County School Board administrator and District 4 candidate Carol Mendelson said she is the only candidate who has been to every city commission meeting, making public comments about the lack of respect and decorum on the dais.

Hoping to bring civility and decency to the commission meetings, she promised to fight for fiscal responsibility, saying, “elected officials work for us.” Mendelson added that Tamarac faces many issues, and the commission has to work together to support a prosperous and safe city. If elected, she would suggest a professional development course for her colleagues on the dais to teach them how to address each other.

Michelle J. Gomez

Mayor Michelle J. Gomez was next, followed by her challenger, Vice Mayor Mike Gelin. Both were met by cheers.

Gomez shared her long history of living in Tamarac, saying she started visiting her grandparents’ house in Woodlands as a child in 1978 and moved permanently in 1994.

“Tamarac is home. It’s where I want to live, work, and play,” she said, adding that after 12 years on the commission in various roles, “a lot was done, but we need to do more.”

Serving the city has been a privilege, and she hopes to be able to address the needs of the Tamarac community as it changes and bring new businesses. When asked about adding art and drama in the city, Gomez joked that residents could watch the commission meetings and get all the arts and drama at once.

Mike Gelin

Gelin said it was his pleasure to serve the city for three years, and he hopes to do four more as mayor. One of six children of his Haitian immigrant parents, Gelin said his childhood in Brooklyn was “difficult,” and his family’s eventual move to Plantation made him appreciate the sacrifices his parents made to help their children succeed.

Gelin shared that while working for Enron energy company, it had a “cult-like atmosphere” and said he felt the same about the city commission when he got elected in 2018. He “knew the former city manager wasn’t honest about the numbers” and mentioned asking for a forensic audit of him, something he brings up at each commission meeting.

When asked about a strength that qualifies him for the position, Gelin mentioned his honesty and integrity, and “ability to access the situation and people,” again bringing up the city manager’s case and questioning his connection to the proposed hotel in Woodmont and storage facility on Commercial and Rock Island Rd.

David Witman Mountford

Retirement consulting professional and District 4 candidate David Witman Mountford said his financial background and work as a trustee for the Tamarac Police Pension Fund would make him a good commissioner.

A Tamarac University graduate, Mountford said he has been running a grassroots campaign and not looking for endorsements, as he doesn’t want to be “beholden” and prefers to “stay unbiased,” which prompted a round of applause from the audience.

Mountford said he wants to advocate for those who do not have a voice and added that his priorities are a safe city, smart growth, and communication with the residents. When asked what could be cut from the city budget, he said, “the car allowance is a good start,” to another round of applause.

Stuart Michelson

Seasoned attorney and District 2 candidate Stuart Michelson said he is “uniquely suited” for the commission as an attorney who represented cities in the past. “No one else has this background.”

“I understand how good cities are run,” he said, adding that Tamarac is “in trouble” with how the commissioners treat each other, long-disputed car allowances, and other issues.

“The city needs help, and I have a breadth of knowledge and experience needed.” He can “disagree without being disagreeable” — another nod to misbehavior on Tamarac’s dais.

When asked about the city’s development, Michelson said that Tamarac is already “overdeveloped,” saying “we can’t be dumping more cars on McNab and Commercial, that’s for sure,” which was met with applause. He added that the city needs more low-income housing in mixed-income projects.

Kicia Daniel

District 4 candidate Kicia Daniel was called to the podium soon after she arrived.

A school principal for Broward County Public Schools for the past 23 years and current principal of Pinewood Elementary School in North Lauderdale, Daniel said her goal is to keep Tamarac affordable and protect the city’s culture while developing more programs and services for younger generations.

She shared her experience of taking on public schools with low ratings and improving them in a very short time, from D to A, in one case and from F to B in another.

Daniel said she is a results-driven public servant, and when she believes in something, she “gives it her all.” When asked about negotiating waste removal rates for the city, she said her rule is to “never just take what is given, but always negotiate a better deal.”

Joseph Lanouette

Industrial specialist, adjunct professor, and District 2 candidate Joseph Lanouette said his goal as commissioner would be to build a stronger and safer community and create a beautiful city that can become a shopping and dining destination.

Lanouette wants to lower city expenses, starting with removing car allowances and liaisons, and added that Tamarac needs to build “smarter” and be more sustainable. A veteran with 33 overseas missions in his career, Lanouette said his sense of service is still strong, and he hopes to get a chance to serve the city.

(Video Courtesy of Westwood 24 – Tube)

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Agrippina Fadel
Agrippina Fadel
Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.

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