Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A credible and understandable “Opening Statement” is crucially important when running for a seat on City Commission.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! We are officially in the unofficial official 2018–2019 Election Season in this little City. . .

The unofficial official Election Season is the period of time prior to the official two-week “Qualifying Period”, whereupon the ballot is officially set by the Supervisor of Elections.

It’s very important for all candidates seeking election to remember an opening statement in this City of Lake Worth carries through after Election Day. Why? Because a lot of people just might remember what you said.

For example many will recall Chris McVoy, PhD, the former commissioner in District 2, said and promised a lot of things and that’s why the editor at The Palm Beach Post, in the endorsement for a young man named Mr. Omari Hardy, called McVoy a “gadfly”.

Former District 4 Commissioner Ryan Maier won his seat on the City Commission in 2015 (on McVoy’s coattails) but opted not to run for re-election in 2017. That created the rare “open seat” election. In 2016 Mr. Herman C. Robinson declared very early on to run in District 4 and drew two challengers. And it was also in 2016 that a man named Omari Hardy seriously considered running for a seat on the Commission.

The Election Day results on March 14th, 2017:

And to everyone’s surprise, no run-off election!

Please note that after winning an election, as was the case with former Commissioner Maier, there is that wonderful period of time . . . but it doesn’t last very long.

The Opening Statement.
Case Example: Mr. Andy Amoroso vs. District 3 Commissioner JoAnn Golden in 2011.

First, let’s set the stage.

District 2 and District 4 will be on the ballot next year, on March 12th. Already Commissioner Omari Hardy has a challenger, Cathy Turk, a member of the City’s P&Z Board. The water is warm in District 2. Another challenger or two is considering jumping in. The criticism of Hardy is he’s using our City as a “steppingstone”. How one squares that with the fact Hardy is seeking re-election will be interesting to hear explained at a debate some day.

Like Hardy, Commissioner Herman C. Robinson has declared his intent to seek re-election. District 4 has been a revolving door for well over a decade, faces come faces go. If any district in this City can be called a ‘steppingstone’ it’s District 4. But if Robinson is thinking about stepping anywhere it’s usually about skipping on over to a neighborhood meetings and attending to his duties as a commissioner.

The 2018–2019 Election Season here in this City, hopefully, will not be another “Year of the Shill” flooding the ballot with ‘candidates’ to stop anyone from getting 50% of the vote  +  1, forcing a run-off on March 26th, 2019. Run-off elections can be terribly divisive which is why some municipalities declare the candidate with the most votes the winner.

The two-week Qualifying Period to officially get ones name on the ballot begins on November 28th and ends on December 12th.

Without further ado, the opening statement,
“Why I am running for election.”

If one is considering getting into the race, you need to get your “ducks in a row” starting right away and begin preparing for neighborhood meetings, invitations to address small groups, the debate(s) at the Lake Worth Playhouse in early January are crucially important and then the Neighborhood Assoc. Presidents’ Council (NAPC) debates and forums to follow. The Playhouse debate(s) can be your “breakout” moment or sink your campaign for good and never fully recover.

The elections to be held on March 12th, 2019 are much more significant given that those elected will serve a 3-year term as opposed to two-year terms as it’s been in the past due to the referendum that passed in March 2017.

Now back to the importance of an “Opening Statement” at the upcoming Playhouse and neighborhood debates.

Case example:

Note: The videos of Amoroso and Golden taken at that Playhouse debate are below for reference and future study.

JoAnn Golden’s poor performance at the Playhouse debate was likely a contributing factor in
that election loss back in 2011.

But it can also be said that now-Vice Mayor and District 3 Commissioner Amoroso’s confidence and knowledge of the issues gave him a big boost and likely the election win as well.

One of the biggest issues back in 2011 was the “hot-button” topic of a fire assessment and in the video below you’ll hear Golden’s incredulous statement, “We need to tweak it next year.” Golden voted for the fire assessment and called it “fair and equitable” although most of the burden would fall on the business community driving the Downtown occupancy rate even lower and discourage other businesses from relocating or opening up in the City.

Another ‘fact’ thrown out by Golden, and wildly false, was about the City of Lake Worth’s “90% occupancy rate in the Downtown”. One of the public in attendance was quick to point the actual occupancy rate was a bit lower: 33%.

Also note it is customary and a sign of respect to
remain standing at a public debate.

Now to the opening statement by then-citizen
Andy Amoroso:

Notice how Amoroso starts off his opening statement: By thanking the NAPC for hosting the debate, encouraging more public participation and that the NAPC is “doing great things in your city.”

He goes on to list the positive things that had happened as co-Chair of the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), the NSP-2 program, community involvement, and other items including he is (and remains to this day) a Downtown business owner.

At the end of this video note the tremendous applause from the public in attendance:

Stay tuned for more videos of public debates from previous elections on what to do and what to say, and just as importantly, what not to do and what not to say. Once again. The Qualifying Period to get ones name on the ballot ends on December 12th. Three weeks later, following the New Year 2019, the scheduling of debates and forums will begin.

If one is planning on running for a seat on the City Commission there is a lot to do and not much time left. So start practicing and find a good coach if you think you need one.

Your “Opening Statement” at a neighborhood meeting, forum or debate will set the stage for the entire campaign going forward.