South Florida Sun-Sentinel EDITORIAL BOARD 2007 City Candidate Questionnaire
Q. What previous actions by you demonstrate that you have the honesty, integrity, ethics and personal character to be an elected official?
A. I have always maintained an open and honest dialog with all people. I enjoy talking with constituents and stakeholders both in my district and citywide. There have been times I voted for items that I may not have personally agreed with, however, I found them to be in the best interest of the city.
Q. What are your top priorities if elected, including your long-term vision for the city? Do you have any city ordinances, policies, regulations or charter amendments to suggest?
A. My top priority is to continue expanding park and recreational facilities, especially sports fields. To improve our city services, such as traffic safety needs, and to continue the economic development which benefits the people of Margate in many ways. Long term priorities include improving our library, and to continue to improve the quality of life for our residents. I also am currently looking into policies that restrict smoking in certain areas in our city parks.
Q. Where in the city budget would you like to decrease and increase spending, and why?
A. I believe the parks and recreation budget for Margate needs more financial support. This will enable the improvement and maintenance of Margate's parks. Such facilities increase the benefits for seniors and all age groups and add to the development and enjoyment of our community.
I would like to also increase spending in the area of community policing to continue maintaining the low crime rate in Margate, and to continue educational programs to help people avoid being victimized by crime.
It is always important to review and analyze our budget; I believe we need to continue carefully overseeing the budget. As a result we have a lean and disciplined budget in Margate. Because, we have strong budgetary discipline, I have no budget cuts to recommend, at this time.
As a guiding principle for the future, I would like any necessary cuts to be the result of greater efficiencies. There should not be cuts that cause a reduction in needed services.
Q. Briefly discuss your views on these issues:
a.) The performance of the city manager and how it could be improved.
I feel our city manager tries very hard to perform up to our expectations of him and to accomplish each of our goals. I believe we need to improve our channels of communication with the city manager.
b.) The best and worst decisions by the City Commission recently, and how its performance could be improved.
The best decisions made by the City Commission have been the reduction of the property tax rate for five of the last seven years. Another important decision of the Margate city commission was the Road Resurfacing Project. Which included resurfacing of all roads in the city, landscaping the medians and installing curbing. Landscaping and medians are also part of the Margate CRA. Some of the roads in the city have not been resurfaced in too many years.
The worst decision by the city commission was the removal of city sponsored festivals included the Fourth of July celebrations. The best performance improvement can be achieved through enhanced communication efforts among the commissioners, staff and with the public. We need to work together for the betterment of our community.
c.) Ways to upgrade older neighborhoods and fight blight.
Better code enforcement will lead to nicer neighborhoods, foster more community pride and make a more aesthetically pleasing city. The city SHIP rehabilitation program helps residents improve their homes; along with our beautification grants encourage community-wide improvements.
d.) Ways to improve city growth management, make sure services keep pace and cope with eventual buildout.
We have reached build out now, and available land is scarce. We are developing ways to improve the business climate and infrastructure needs of the city. Through the Margate CRA we have developed a downtown area. Many older buildings have been purchased, some renovated, and some razed; all to create a better business environment and a stable tax base.
e.) Ways for the city to cooperate with surrounding cities and county government.
We work well with other cities not only directly, but through the Broward League Of Cities. We provide Coconut Creek with Fire and Rescue Services. Discussions are ongoing to add other neighboring cities with a similar arrangement.
As far as the County Commission, communication is very good, especially since our city is represented by two county commissioners who respond well to our issues and concerns.
f.) Ways to improve the city's downtown area.
The Margate downtown area is currently being redeveloped and will have a new look and improved business environment.
g.) Ways to improve relations among different ethnic groups in the city.
I feel our city is very fortunate, we have always benefited from a variety of diverse backgrounds in our community. If any improvements are to be needed we will address them quickly.
h.) Your thoughts on proposed annexations of unincorporated areas, if any.
This is not applicable to Margate.
5. How can city government become more responsive, accountable, streamlined, efficient, productive and user- friendly?
We can be more effective by answering residents' questions in a helpful manner. Our employees should be knowledgeable and treat the residents' concerns as important as if they were their own. Good communication is required to better serve the public.
6. What should be done to increase public trust in government and voter turnout in city elections?
Open door policy and open communication in a frank and honest manner with residents will increase public trust. The voter turnout in the city elections should start by educating the residents about the issues that effect them. In addition programs like Kids Voting help educate youngsters about the value of their vote; parents also benefit from their child's lesson.