By: Sharon Aron Baron
There seems to be two types of voters in the mayoral race this year: those that want to move forward with a 28 million dollars city hall complex along with a new downtown, and those that believe it’s not the fiscally responsible thing to do. That question will be answered in just a few days when Coral Springs residents will elect either City Commissioner Tom Powers, or former State Senator Walter “Skip” Campbell. Both have very strong supporters and it will be up to the voters to decide who will lead the city.
Walter “Skip” Campbell
Former State Senator Campbell, who has lived in Coral Springs for 36 years, told residents that the city’s slogan used to be the “City of Excellence” and its bond rating was triple AAA. After former Mayor Roy Gold withdrew his nomination in June, he was approached by people who felt the city wasn’t moving in the right direction.
One of Campbell’s first concerns was the commission paying a company in Tennessee to create a slogan “Everything Under the Sun,” as well as the new entrance signs costing $1.3 million dollars. Those things perturbed him but weren’t enough get him engaged, unlike the $28 million dollar cost of the new city hall. Agreeing that a new city hall was needed, he said “We don’t build a Taj Mahal to build a city hall”
Campbell said that a former commission estimated the cost to retrofit the current city hall between $1.8 to $3 million dollars.
One of the things that I’ve developed a reputation for, is as a communicator, as a problem solver, and someone who has people of different opinions to come out and try to sit down and use common sense to come up with the best resolution.” – Walter “Skip” Campbell
What upset Campbell was the city commission’s lack of concern back in June when the bond rating went down one level which will cost the city more to borrow money for the new city hall.
“When I read about Moody’s downgrade, it said that Coral Springs is getting into some problems with their financing, some problems with their debt, and we have to somehow fix that problem.”
He also wondered why the city wants to use general revenue bonds to finance the new city hall.
“I asked myself, why would they do that? The answer is quite simple: they don’t want the voters to vote on whether or not we’re going to build a Taj Mahal, or whether or not we can build a city hall we can afford.”
Recently endorsed by the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Campbell says that although crime rates are decreasing in the city, one statistic bothers him and that’s the large spike in domestic violence cases. He believes the city has an obligation to address and publicize the problem and let the public know it will not accept domestic violence in the city.
Powers, who has served on the city commission since 2008, is a retired Arizona State Police Officer who moved to Florida. He also served as vice mayor from 2012 to 2013.
“I believe in fully transparent government and I will always tell you the truth behind the meetings and decisions that affect our city. This is about facts, not opinions and it is vitally important that you understand how the entire commission as a team of five reaches decisions as compared to relying on opinions that you may hear or read,” said Powers on his website.
Brian Powell, head of the Fire Union Local 3080 said, “The looks of the city are changing and property values are on the rise. Without question this is due to the commission, and Tom’s relentless involvement in the community.”
Powers, who is a supporter of the new city hall complex and downtown told the Sun Sentinel that the city did the right thing by deciding to fund the construction of the proposed municipal complex using revenue bonds.
My opponent says we should have funded the project using general obligation bonds,” Powers said. “That would have meant a tax increase for our residents; does he want that? We have the financing in place to ensure that we can build the municipal complex without raising taxes. We have the revenue stream to pay for it.” – Tom Powers
Powers has been endorsed by the Metro Broward International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 3080, Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 87, Mayor Vince Boccard, Vice Mayor Larry Vignola, and Commissioner Dan Daley.
Early voting hours are on Sunday from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Regular voting hours on Tuesday, November 4, are 7 a.m. – 7 p.m at the poll listed on your voters registration