By: Jill Fox and Jen Russon
Coral Springs residents have had very little time to get to know the four candidates who are running to become the next mayor of the city.
While most candidates get a year or more to raise funds and campaign, Vince Boccard, Scott J. Brook, Kurt Gardner and Nancy Metayer have had only two months to educate residents on their platforms in their bid to become mayor before the March 12 election.
We asked residents and Coral Springs elected officials what they wanted to know about the candidates, including: their stance on medical marijuana dispensaries, their current involvement with the city, future development, municipal taxes, the potential relocation of the Coral Springs Charter School, and why voters should vote for them.
Vince Boccard – by Jill Fox
Vincent “Vince” Boccard is looking forward to another chance to serve the city of Coral Springs. He previously was a city commissioner from 2006 to 2010, and Coral Springs mayor from 2012 to 2014. Boccard has no further ambition to run for office outside of Coral Springs because he is very passionate about the city and concerned where it is headed.
A resident for 20 years, he has been politically involved for 19 of those, from volunteering on boards and committees to working as a commissioner, vice mayor and mayor. Boccard works as a homebuilder with Boccard Homes & Kessler Construction and wife, Terry, is also involved in the city as the president of the Coral Springs Museum of Art.
No stranger to city hall, Boccard is there two to three times a week with his construction business and said he remains active behind the scenes. He feels like he never really left – he just doesn’t have a seat on the commission.
The city issue that concerns Boccard most is the 24 percent tax increase. He said that creating redevelopment opportunities for businesses would help lower the tax base, as well as the development and impact fees associated. He feels that his branding initiative to reposition the city for the future was successful, and wants the chance to finish what he envisioned for residents.
Boccard plans to create a “Delray-type” of atmosphere by rezoning and building the big energy urbanized type of development which everybody has looked for.
“This is what I promised the citizens of Coral Springs,” he said, “That’s the downtown vitally important to the future of this city and we can make it happen.”
With other issues facing the city, like aesthetics, Boccard wants to focus on code enforcement because “the city doesn’t look like it used to.” He also feels strongly about public safety, in schools and the community as well as fiscal responsibility.
Boccard said that he supports medical marijuana dispensaries but has reservations on how many and would want a firm plan in place. He said that Coral Springs is known throughout the country as a family oriented community with great schools, great parks, and as a safe city.
“I have no problem with a medical marijuana dispensary, I just don’t want to see dispensaries on every corner. It’s 21st century medicine and it’s legal, so why would we prevent it from happening.”
As far as the Coral Springs Charter School, Boccard said, “There is no question that the school needs to be relocated, the big question is where. People are stumbling now because no one wants it in their backyard.”
Boccard explained getting citizens to the polls to vote has always been a problem in Coral Springs. He’s trying to educate people who don’t realize there is a special election in March.
“I truly enjoy what I did and hope the citizens give me the opportunity to do it again,” he said
Scott J. Brook – by Jen Russon
First elected to the Coral Springs city commission in 2002, Scott Brook was elected mayor in 2006 and served for four years.
A father of five, and grandfather of three, Brook is a lawyer and partner in the Coral Springs law firm Brodzki, Jacobs, and Brook. A 21-year resident, he moved to Coral Springs after meeting his wife and her three children.
As one of the earliest people who announced his candidacy after the loss of Skip Campbell, he said that while deeply saddened over the loss of Campbell, he is excited to run, even if there has been scant time to prepare his platform.
“I have more time and more experience than the first time [I was mayor], and will do whatever I can to lift our city,” said Brook, explaining that his youngest child is now 18-years-old and he has more time, at this point in his life, to devote to the job.
He said his history in local government has made him see that “unity in the community” is something Coral Springs is in desperate need of.
A plan to reduce taxes without cutting services, like he did as mayor in 2006 is, said, Brook, an aspirational goal as of yet; but, if elected, Brook said he will get there again by finding out what his constituents want before legislation takes place.
Brook said that one of his major commitments is to complete the downtown area, and wants it done with a greater sense of urgency. He wants to exceed the proposed area on the SW corner of Sample Road and University Drive and work with both the city and developers toward the completion.
He said when he is mayor he will bridge the divide between local government and residents. To support that, Brook said he would host at least two town halls, and later, public meetings on a quarterly and monthly basis. He has said this will give constituents a voice in where, for example, the Coral Springs Charter School is relocated. City staff is leaning toward a proposed move to Mullins Park, but Brook said the final decision should not be made until residents have spoken.
Because residents “voted loud and clear” to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries, Brook said he would make sure these are regulated and do not pose obstacles to a growing local economy.
Brook said that public safety and budget for first responders are his top priorities and that he would add a mayor’s youth cabinet and budget academy to the city’s existing nine committees. His youth initiative, Project Leadership that helps over 800 teenagers earn service hours, and coaching a soccer team, are listed among his accomplishments.
The candidate has approximately 120 volunteers and 45 core volunteers helping with his campaign. To date, Brook has phone banked two to three times each week, and held open forums.
Kurt Gardner – by Jen Russon
Gardner said he loves to get out and pound the pavement with his two-year-old son, Kasey in tow. The 36-year-old business and brand developer has an avuncular look to him and his friends and family said he always seems to be smiling. Gardner attributes his cheerfulness to being able to live in the state of his dreams: Florida.
“I grew up in Rochester, New York but my grandfather had a home near Weeki Wachee Springs. I loved visiting him once a year, and couldn’t wait to move to Florida one day myself,” said Gardner.
Gardner and his wife Caitlin, who is his campaign manager, moved to Coral Springs about seven years ago and own a house in Forest Hills.
He said he began sitting in on commission meetings and talking to other young people who already worked in local government, or were interested in getting more deeply involved.
“Guess how many young employees I got to know who actually live here? None,” said Gardner, adding that it stunned and disappointed him to learn they could not afford to rent or own in Coral Springs.
Gardner knows he can help with the city’s short and long-term economic development and brand building. He drew comparisons between promoting businesses and cities.
“Businesses and people face similar issues. I’ve been working since I was 15 and I see that.”
Gardner promised that, as mayor, he would offer a weekly “mayoral minute” online. He said that in the time it takes a traffic light to turn from red to green, the people of Coral Springs would get a rundown of what commissioners, the city manager and the mayor were doing to make their lives better.
Gardner said, if elected, big changes are on the horizon for the city he loves.
“If you’re looking for someone to trash this city, it isn’t me. I love it here. I want Coral Springs to grow into an ideal place for my son to raise his family in, but in order to make my ideas, like lowering property taxes work without cutting services, it will require a lot of people working together.”
He added that expanding the city’s tax base would be a priority of his. Cutting down on fines related to zoning violations by homeowners is something he plans to zero in on – something he thinks current city management isn’t doing.
“We need to make sure everyone following city ordinances is on equal playing fields…this is a complex city structure.”
Because he’s predicting low voter turn out and is a political newcomer, Gardner is realistic when asked if he thinks he can win, and said, “Look, I want your vote. But more importantly I want you to vote.”
Gardner supports approval of medical marijuana dispensaries and said that, when it comes to relocating the Coral Springs Charter School to Mullins Park, there should be more public meetings to see what constituents want.
He said that no matter the outcome on Election Day, he will run again in 2020.
Nancy Metayer – by Jill Fox
If elected, Nancy Metayer’s first priority is to ensure that the city of Coral Springs can function within their $250 million dollar budget. She wants to make sure the city is financially stable without it being a burden to residents, then address the infrastructure.
“Although we aren’t near the ocean, the Everglades is in our backyard, and I want to make sure that we are able to combat flash flooding and the impact of climate change,” said Metayer.
The candidate grew up in Coral Springs, and graduated from Coral Springs Charter School with honors before attending college. Working as a state-wide climate justice program manager for a nonprofit, Metayer took a leave of absence to run for the office of mayor.
Although Metayer is unable to attend every commission meeting, she insists she is staying engaged and doing the research on her end.
A new generation of leadership is what Metayer believes the city needs, someone not only with experience, but with fresh bold ideas to move Coral Springs forward.
“I feel like there’s a gap, a void in our leadership, and I’m willing to step up and lead our city,” she said.
According to Metayer, the city’s current strategic plan is a move in the right direction, but she feels that it’s a matter of who’s leading the initiative and that it’s led correctly.
Right now, Metayer believes the city doesn’t have enough money to address the issues it now faces, so she doesn’t think it’s feasible to reduce taxes, but would love to work closely with the commission to ensure that they can do so in the future.
“I don’t want to make promises that I cannot fulfill. I don’t see lowering taxes as a viable choice or fair assumption with the way that our budget looks right now,” she said.
Metayer is in favor of the downtown project as long as it doesn’t overburden the residents of the city. She feels there’s a way to build-out the downtown corridor that’s smart, sustainable and can embrace the growth of Coral Springs.
With the addition of the downtown corridor, she believes the Coral Springs Charter School should be moved to a new location but feels the community should have a say in where it goes, and those impacted should be making the decision.
As far as opening medical marijuana dispensaries in Coral Springs, Metayer said, “What’s taking so long? We voted in 2006, and residents said loud and clear that they want it.”
She said the issues have been discussed and it’s a disservice to residents that we do not allow them yet.
To help encourage citizens to vote, Metayer has been leveraging her social media by live-streaming “Mayor Mondays” on Facebook, which consist of topic discussions about what’s going on in the city, such as the opioid crisis, public safety, transparency and communication. If elected, Metayer said she would like to continue this.
Metayer said she is trying to get out in front of as many people as possible and remind them that March 12 is the special election and to go out and vote.
“I want to be able to serve and represent the people of Coral Springs and ensure people that they can come to me with their concerns and their voices will be heard,” she said.
Every vote counts and in a four-way race in special election, race could be determined by several votes.
The mayoral election will be held on Tuesday, March 12. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to verify your poll, go to Broward Voter Lookup.