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Sun Times Feature Story

Your Vote Really Counts!

By Larry Blustein

   HOLLYWOOD - As Rae Miller headed into the Hollywood Library to cast her vote for the upcoming election, she took one last look at the sample ballot that she brought along with her.

   Taking advantage of early voting, Miller was indeed excited to take part in this vote that would make a difference in this upcoming election. But as much as she wanted to get her vote in early, this Hollywood resident was certainly in the minority.

   As usual, the early voter turnout in many cities have been terrible at best. No lines and no waiting time signal either many are waiting for next Tuesday -  or there is very little interest and the turnout will once again be low for  some important elections.

   "I cannot understand that people are not taking advantage of the early voting," Miller said. "It really makes me wonder what many of these people really want. It seems to me that this would be the perfect thing for those who are not in favor of battling long lines."

   While the main vote in this election - at least for Floridians - is the race for governor. Neither Rick Scott or Charlie Crist have done anything to separate themselves in this campaign - with terrible TV and print advertising and debates that have not been favorable at all.

   Believe it or not, people like James Wilson of Dania Beach, are turned off by the negativity that surrounds this race that many polls have as even, heading into the final weekend.

   "I really try not to watch the ads in this race," he pointed out. "It seems to me like a huge joke. I am telling you now that neither candidate represents what I had hoped to have in a governor."

   As the race for governor comes down to the homestretch, other statewide issues and local elections will certainly take center stage. 

   One of the major issues that has been in the news over the past few years is Amendment 2 - where medical marijuana use is something that has as many detractors and those who support the issue. With debates and lectures by each side, voters will have the opportunity to pass an issue that will affect many who believe that marijuana is needed for patients who want to have a better quality of life.

   The issue, which has confused many, is not about legalizing it like Colorado and Washington have for public consumption. It is a vote that would give those who need marijuana to ease pain and promote hunger. It is not about the recreational user who will treat it like alcohol. That is where many are confused, and with law enforcement and many others speaking against it, understanding what this vote represents is something that many simply do not comprehend.

   "I am a huge supporter  of this issue, Rita Mahew of North Miami explained. "This is not about going to your local pot shop and buying an ounce to have a party with. What this issue represents is to help cancer patients, etc. live a better quality of life."

   While the marijuana issue is a huge topic, local elections in Dania Beach, Hallandale Beach and Aventura are also going to be huge as far as local politics are concerned.



   In Hallandale Beach, the recent Parks Bond is a heated issue that many detractors have no clue about, but that has become standard in this city where residents have been split in half. Yje same spilt will show up where two commission seats are up for grabs - and the race has been competitive.

   Here is what The Bond issue is all about. It is $58.5 million and will be repaid over 30 years.  This is the first time the City has floated a general obligation bond.  In today’s dollars, it would cost a property owner $86.40 per $100,000 of taxable property value.  This number will DECREASE as the property base increases.

    It’s proven that parks improve the quality of life. Over the past few Census counts, the City’s population is changing and getting younger.  Our parts today cannot accommodate this change in family dynamics and renovation is essential to improving the quality of live.

    If the residents do not approve the bond, the fate of the parks are uncertain. The general fund is unable to pay for upgrades at this time and it is expected to take several decades to bring the parks into the modern era – if at all.  The fate would be left up to future City Commissioners to decide.

    The Sun Sentinel recently - with no knowledge of this issue - voted against it. That is really not the way to be involved in something so important. The parks are covered by the City’s Community Benefit Program, which means JOBS;  City residents, City-based businesses and City-based suppliers would get top priority in supplying labor and materials on the job.  In the construction or Scavo Park, BF James and South Beach, more than 50% of the workforce, builders and supplies are Hallandale-based.  That means the money stays in the City.

    Parks have shown to increase property values, as much as 20% for homes located near nice parks.

   Since the City opened Scavo and BF James, usage of these parks has tripled.

   Now, to the commission election. Seat 1 has incumbent Anthony Sanders going against Gerald Dean, Ann Pearl Henigson and Chuck Kulin. 

   Seat 2 will have current commissioner Leo Grachow, who was appointed when Alex Lewy stepped aside, against Keith London, who has served on the commission before, but lost in his bid to be mayor two years ago.



   In Dania Beach, voters will finally give the city its fifth commissioner. The seat has been empty since June 2013, when Pat Flury resigned. Commissioners tried many times to appoint someone to the seat, but gave up after dozens of deadlocked votes.

   Charles Camacho Jr., incumbent Bobbie Grace, business owner Marco Salvino Sr. and community activist Rae Sandler, who lost a commission race in 2012, are all in this race.



   In Aventura, the city will get some new leadership this fall, as the mayoral and three commissioner positions are open because of term limits.

   Mayor Susan Gottlieb and Commissioners Michael Stern (Seat 2), Billy Joel (Seat 4) and Luz Urbaez Weinberg (Seat 6) have all reached their term limits. 

   Robert Shelley was automatically elected to Seat 4 because he was the only candidate who filed by the Aug. 15 deadline.

  The race for mayor will feature Enid Weisman and Lesley Winston.

   Gustavo Blachman and Denise Landman are running for the Seat 2 commissioner position being vacated by Stern. 

   Marc Narotsky and Jonathan Rogoff are running for the Seat 6 commissioner seat, which is being vacated by Urbaez Weinberg. 

   As Tuesday, Nov. 4 quickly approaches, issues and seats hang in the balance. The only hope is that everyone gets out to vote and understands that this year more than ever, your vote does make a difference!