Opinion: Why I’m Supporting Joshua Simmons for Coral Springs City Commission

Restaurant Owner Dena Lowell and Candidate Joshua Simmons.

By: Dena Lowell – Guest Contributor

I am a Parkland resident, but was a Coral Springs resident for 20 years, and am the proud owner of The Cook and The Cork Restaurant, along with the property it sits on in the city.

I’m writing today to talk about my friend Joshua Simmons, a local teacher, running for Coral Springs City Commission, Seat 4.

When Coral Springs was built, suburban sprawl was an economic driver. Today is different. Coral Springs faces economical and philosophical challenges. How does the city continue the momentum of prosperity it started 50 years ago? How will the city be in the next 20, 50 or 70 years?

The answer is to stay relevant.

The city must deal with a shifting population and become attractive to millennials who are now contemplating careers and homes for their own families. The city must attract and nourish businesses that provide high paying jobs. The city must beautify its streets and neighborhoods, and maintain its aging infrastructure.

But how will the city do this? Why would anyone want to move to Coral Springs? What will make our city a lively, desirable, special place? A destination?

There is a disconnect between some current commissioners and the practical concerns of our everyday life. Take a look at the members of our commission and you will get an idea of what they represent and what they don’t. A commissioner may show up at a dedication or an event, but are they in the trenches every day? Are they on the ground, going from home to home, business to business? Do they understand resident’s wishes and needs?

From my experience, I don’t think so.

As I mentioned, I own a restaurant, The Cook and The Cork. During the four years that we’ve been open, only three elected officials: Mayor Skip Campbell and Commissioners Dan Daley and Joy Carter have stepped through my doors to see how we’re doing.

I’ll tell you why it’s concerning.

My business brings many “firsts” to Coral Springs. We are the first restaurant here to ever have a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. We are the first restaurant in Coral Springs to partner with Broward County’s Tourism Board. We are the first restaurant in Coral Springs to have a National Distinction in Fine Dining Award. We are the first restaurant in Coral Springs to have a certified executive chef as its owner, and a certified sommelier. We are actively working with the city to make Coral Springs a destination.

The lack of basic conversations from current commissioners really makes me wonder: do they come to their decisions about our city through interaction with residents and business owners? Or is their perspective and the decisions they make for the city drawn strictly from their own personal background, comfort level, and experiences?

Commissioner Lou Cimaglia’s opinion on medical marijuana is a perfect example of an out-of-touch commissioner.  He has stated that medical marijuana is a “gateway drug” and compares it to addictive opioids: both factually incorrect.  He, along with other commissioners, have denied residents the right to be able to obtain medical marijuana at a location convenient to their homes.  This policy keeps a game-changing remedy impossibly out of reach to older people in this city, who cannot use the internet to get it.

Joshua Simmons is in touch with the faces and people of our town. As a teacher at Coral Springs High School, he knows the residents of Coral Springs and their kids very well. As a dedicated volunteer, he has the opportunity to talk to so many people, and he is always listening.

As a city commissioner, Joshua Simmons will bring to the city an energy that the commission and our city so badly need. He has an objective, fresh and unbiased attitude.

Joshua Simmons would be a breath of fresh air from the exclusive culture of the current commission. Some people are making decisions for our city that are on advisory boards, that are so out of touch and do not have the city’s residents, its future, or its best interests in mind as a first priority.

This disconnect can end on November 6, when we band together to elect Joshua Simmons for Coral Springs City Commission, Seat 4. He has my full support, and I hope he has yours as well.

He is a natural leader and caring person. He is filled with energy and eager to advance Coral Springs not just into the present, but also into the future.

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