By: Jen Russon
In a matter of weeks, Coral Springs voters will decide on their next city commissioner for Seat 4; or rather – if the incumbent retains his seat.
In 2014, Lou Cimaglia narrowly won by 105 votes over Howard Melamed. Now heading into his second term, he’s enthusiastic about continuing to serve the community. His challenger, Joshua Simmons, who has been actively campaigning for a year, believes the city should move put proactive plans in place to support the city’s growth.
Each believe their platform will move Coral Springs forward.
A longtime resident of Broward County and Coral Springs, Cimaglia, 80, was born in Providence, Rhode Island and moved to Florida in his youth. In 1992, the licensed real estate broker settled in Coral Springs, living in Sherwood Square on the east side of town. He said his familiarity and memories of Coral Springs predate the 1990’s by many decades.
“I lived in Davie when the city was founded. My family was in the construction business, and we helped build Coral Springs,” said Cimaglia, the father of four grown children.
He added that sitting on the Coral Springs 50th Anniversary Committee in the summer of 2013 was a lot of fun. The following year he became a city commissioner.
Looking back on a half century of progress in Coral Springs, begins with his high school graduation in 1963. At that time, Cimaglia joined the Army Reserves. He served his country for one year, and since then has been actively involved in Veterans affairs ever since, helping to found the Veteran’s Coalition of Coral Springs as well as bring the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall to the city. In 2015, Cimaglia was honored by the Florida Panthers in their Heroes Among Us program.
“In the four years I’ve been on the commission, we’ve focused on redeveloping [the] downtown. We say we’re going to do something, like build a new city hall, and then proceed to do just that. In five or six more years, we’ll have the best downtown of any city in the state of Florida,” said Cimaglia.
Over the years, Cimaglia has done volunteer work for the Optimist Club, the Community Relations Council of Broward Health Coral Springs, and the Knights of Columbus.
Last January, he was among the three commissioners who voted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the city; however, Cimaglia has been empathetic to the poor and disabled, by distributing wheelchairs to those in need throughout South Florida.
Citing leadership, values and hard work as his core beliefs, Joshua Simmons, 29, said he is running for city commission because Coral Springs has critical needs that must be addressed now.
“We cannot afford to wait any longer. Coral Springs is no longer a new city, but we are continuing to grow. We are having an identity crisis, and in order to move forward we need to put proactive plans into place to support this growth and our community in a smart, efficient, and decisive manner,” said Simmons.
He added that when he moved here in 2011 to help his single mom raise his little sister, he immediately noticed how volunteerism seemed to be a defining characteristic of the city. He put that trait to use to help care for her while his mother, Navy Petty Officer Toni Simmons-Acid, was stationed in Japan.
Simmons, who lives in Turtle Run, is a teacher at Coral Springs High School. He is active in three committees: customer-involved government, Martin Luther King Jr. and the multi-cultural advisory board.
“These committees have allowed me to witness the dedication and commitment of the residents, to our city. I have also volunteered for the Lynn Johnson Award Nominating Committee, Worldfest, and the Coral Springs Festival of the Arts,” said Simmons.
His stance on medical marijuana differs from his opponent’s. Simmons has called banning the dispensaries a disservice to the community, and said he believes the issue should be re-visited.
Early voting begins on October 22 – November 4 from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily at the Northwest Regional Library 3151 University Drive in Coral Springs. Election Day is November 6. To find your precinct, go to Broward Supervisor of Elections.
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.