Here are some of the many issues that are of concern to Coral Springs residents, and how I would address them as the commissioner for seat 3.
Keeping Our Police Department Funded
At a June commission meeting, one of the other candidates for Seat 3 read a letter to the commission. It recommended that the city, "Divert previously allocated resources from CSPD toward investment in unarmed crisis first responders, trained mental health providers, and code enforcement. "
I am extremely concerned about this approach. What first started on the national scene as "Defund the Police," has now matured into "Reallocate the Resources." In both cases, the residents may pay a serious price if such advice is followed.
The police department’s budget is an important reason that the CSPD has been able to do such a good job, and even to provide the life-saving skills that were necessary to save many lives at Stoneman-Douglas. The question is simply, where do we cut the funds?
Keeping Coral Springs United
There was a large protest in Coral Springs on Tuesday, June 2nd, at the NW corner of University Drive and Sample Road. Protestors came together to grieve the death of George Floyd, and to call for a better tomorrow for all of us.
Since my congregation is currently located in the shopping plaza of the protest (we are moving to our own property in mid-summer), it took place right in front of our location. I found out about the scheduled protest from the Coral Springs Police Department on June 1st, and immediately made plans with the Clergy Coalition to distribute water to protect people from dehydration during the afternoon's activities. Water was donated by the protest organizers, individuals and congregations, but by far the largest supply of water that we handed out came from the CSPD.
I was able to be at the event all afternoon and witnessed it from right next to the organizer’s tent. My thanks to the Coral Springs Police Department, which not only reached out to the Clergy Coalition to inform us of the event, but also provided amazing security, in addition to providing a great deal of the water. My thanks also to the organizers of this event, who pledged to keep the event peaceful, respectful, and focused; and they most certainly kept that pledge.
I have been focused on bringing our community together in unity for over thirty years . . .(Read More)
COVID-19 Pandemic Response
Keeping Coral Springs Safe
Our community has taken unprecedented steps to respond to the ongoing health crisis brought on by COVID-19. I am very pleased that we are now reopening Coral Springs so that businesses can recover from the shutdown. I believe, especially for the sake of our small business owners, that we must continue to expedite the opening of our city and county.
I believe the steps that our city commission has taken, especially in view of the guidance that was available, have been wise and prudent. I believe our city manager, Frank Babinec, has enacted well-thought out orders to help safeguard our most vulnerable citizens during this time of uncertainty. Of course, now, it is time for those who have proven least-at-risk to go about their lives, while we also continue to protect those most-at-risk.
One thing that has clearly been brought into focus during this time, is how our city and county governments have the ability to effect the lives of so many people at a moment's notice. I am running for the Coral Springs Commission because I have learned over many years of being involved in leadership that it is best to govern with a light hand. The goal of city government must be to do what it can to create a prosperous and safe community, without getting too much in the way of the people who live and work there. That is a difficult thing to accomplish in a pandemic situation. It is also a reason to elect a trusted and proven leader who has led a successful organization for over 30 years. I have a track record of helping people without hindering them. That type of track record is important for anyone who is running for office today.
Keeping Coral Springs Affordable
In 2017, the City Commission voted for an almost 23% property tax increase for the homeowners of Coral Springs. At the beginning of 2018, city voters said “no” to a seventy-five-million-dollar bond referendum, a referendum that the City Commission had asked voters to approve. In 2018 and 2019, the City Commission again voted to raise property taxes by not reducing the millage rate to adjust for property value increases. At the end of 2018, the City Commission voted to add a new fee structure for Stormwater Recovery, an expense that residents saw added to their 2019 property tax bill, and to this point has always been covered by regular property taxes. Adding such fee structures is one way that cities increase amounts that residents pay without increasing taxes, and thus by-passes homestead exemptions.
This continuing years of increased property taxes, the attempted bond referendum, and the added fee structure is all part of a concerning trend in Coral Springs that is taking a larger portion of the average homeowners income.
As the commissioner for seat 3, I pledge to resist tax increases and fee structure additions that make our community less affordable.
Fostering Continued Economic Growth
Although keeping Coral Springs affordable is important, levels of service must not falter. Our parks and recreation opportunities are an important part of this community, and we must do all we can to keep them up, and continue to provide an incredible recreational experience for everyone who visits one of our parks.
One way that the city is able to continue to offer excellent parks and appropriate service without raising taxes and fees is to foster economic growth. While the current revitalization of the downtown area certainly aids this endeavor, and must be continued, the potential of the corporate park dwarfs what can be accomplished in our downtown area. It is important that city government continue to partner with corporate park leaders for the continued development of this important asset. The corporate park has been an underused resource, and we must target it to become an economic boon to the city.
Public Safety & Schools
Focusing on Public Safety
Our police and fire departments are among the finest in Florida. The resources, training, and equipment that our city provides to these departments is critical. When we give them the tools they need, they are able to perform at the level we need.
Our goal must be to do all we can to foster continued excellence in our departments. This includes allocating necessary training and resources for our personnel to meet the dynamic needs of a city such as Coral Springs. We also must continue to provide the economic incentives that are needed to continue to attract qualified personnel who are a credit to our community.
The safety of our schools is one of the paramount public safety issues that we must continue to address. As a part of the Coral Springs Commission I would continue to insist that our school's have a single point of entry, and that the school board live up to the promise they made when the SMART Bond was approved by our county's voters. I believe that the MSD Commission report, the President’s Commission on School Safety report, and SB7206 are important tools to address our school safety issues, and I would work to make sure that these tools are used in the best possible ways to make our schools safer.
Recreation & Aesthetics
Keeping Our Parks Maintained, and Our City Pristine
As mentioned above under Economic Growth, our parks and recreation opportunities are an important part of this community, and we must do all we can not only to continue to provide an incredible recreational experience for everyone who visits one of our parks, but to improve our parks as necessary and appropriate.
I have enjoyed Coral Springs' parks since the time I first moved to the city in 1987. As my children grew, they became part of Coral Springs swim club at the aquatic center for many years, and they still return to swim and work out there when they are in town. I believe that our parks and recreation facilities are an important asset that must continue to be cared for and improved. That is one of the reasons why I believe we need to foster economic growth, so that we can continue to enjoy excellence in our parks and recreation system.
It is also an absolute necessity for any city that wants to maintain its curb appeal, and keep property values high, that the code enforcement departments be efficient and equitable. When properties are not kept up, a whole neighborhood can lose value, and residents of that neighborhood can feel the negative impacts of blight.
This is why our code enforcement department is so important. However, dealing with code enforcement issues can feel disconcerting and harsh. We must continue to develop better ways for interaction with code enforcement, better follow-up for special needs cases, and a fine structure that encourages compliance without bankrupting homeowners.
Our objective is a better Coral Springs, and we can all work together to achieve it.
Setting an Example of Service
Recently, I have had some amazing interactions with city staff in and around City Hall. I have always enjoyed interacting with those who are employed by our city. I believe we have amazing employees who are second to none, and that they are a wonderful asset to our community.
Obviously, there are others in our community who, whether fairly or unfairly, don't feel quite the same way that I do. As a member of the Customer Involved Government Committee, I can testify that our city staff works hard to be customer-centered. However, our elected leaders must lead by example. As the city commission sets an atmosphere that values every staff member, and provides opportunity for all employees to reach their full potential, morale is elevated, and residents can't help but directly benefit.
One of the important jobs of every elected official is to continually assess employee morale, and give employees the support and training they need to reach their full potential. In this way we can become the customer focused city that we all want to see.
I plan on working hard to assess employee morale, to take action if it is slipping, and to continually encourage a resident-centered focus in all our plans and efforts on behalf of the community. I also promise to be available for any of the residents of our community who think that the city is failing at this mission, and to explore ways that we can improve at this very important part of what we do.