Coral Springs: A Democratic city run by right-wing Republicans

Coral Springs is the 12th largest city in the state with almost 125,000 residents and has a two to one Democratic voter registration advantage. The city last voted for a Republican Presidential candidate in 1988 and has not been represented in the state legislature by a Republican since before the 1982 redistricting. It is simply put a long-term Democratic bastion. Yet somehow the City Commission is currently controlled by Republicans to the tune of a 4-1 margin. It is a city I grew up in, attending elementary, middle and high school locally in the 1980s and 1990s; I then lived in once again for many years in the 2000s.

Like many cities Coral Springs has non-partisan elections. This has not prevented Republicans from targeting the city and creating a strong bench of potential candidates and skewing the governing of the city in a dangerous direction. For a municipality with a strong tradition of non-partisanship and the winner of numerous national good government awards, the rapid change in the commission’s composition over the past few election cycles has many locally staring into the abyss.

The right-wing leadership in the city has made lots of errors in how they run the city, but that is a topic for another day here. Right now the focus needs to be on how to oust the current conservative leadership in the city.

Mayor Vince Boccard and  Commissioners Dan Daley, Larry Vignola and Tom Powers  are all registered Republicans. They are not only registered Republicans but they advocate Republican causes and candidates for other offices as well.
In the 2000s when I was involved in several municipal elections in the city, partisanship wasn’t an issue though most candidates and voters were Democrats or NPAs. The issue of partisanship in the city became evident once the first of the current batch of commissioners was elected. Gradually the right wing overtook the commission and the city careened off its path dramatically.

Commissioner Powers is running for Mayor in November 2014. The hope among activists in the city is that former Mayor Roy Gold, a progressive who has dedicated 30 years of his life to bettering the city, will seek a return to public office and run against Powers.
Interestingly, the local Democratic party has taken little interest in Coral Springs elections in recent years.  This has allowed the Republican faction in power to attract Democratic support and contributions. The lack of results-oriented accountability we have long seen on the state level among Democrats has begun to infiltrate Broward County, which is perceived as a bastion of liberalism. Coral Springs is a clear example of this.
 The city, which was considered one of the most livable in Florida, isn’t considered one on the rise and upcoming any longer. By contrast, it is considered a city that is tired and has had its day. The decline ushered in by the current commission has left people clamoring for a change and a return to better days locally.
It is imperative that Democratic activists and officials in Broward County understand the stakes and get moving regarding Coral Springs.

24 comments

  1. Cristina Albright · · Reply

    This problem is happening in Miami Dade too. We need to put candidates in every district to challenge the Republican in office. How can we expect change, if don’t take the steps to make it happen? Going into the November election without Democratic Candidates is like “promoting a coffee shop and don’t have coffee to sell”. After 16 years of no action, IT IS TIME FOR CHANGE! Date: Thu, 1 May 2014 15:22:20 +0000 To: cristinaalbright@hotmail.com

  2. The Florida Democratic Party seems to be having a state-wide problem with finding strong candidates and/or supporting those it has. The best we can find to fight Scott is a former Republican. (My Republican friends are falling down laughing at that, and bragging that they will have a choice between two former Republican governors in November.) No State funds go to candidates in elections in small districts that are considered “not important” by the party. I, for one, am making my donations to individual Democratic candidates whom I support and am not throwing $$$$ into the State pot.

  3. Blue Dog Dem · · Reply

    No surprise.

    Broward’s party is dysfunctional. The power in that county comes from lobbyist/political consultants.

    I assume those folks have thrown in with this GOP faction you describe.

  4. Concerned Democrat · · Reply

    Very important article, this is happening all over the state!

  5. Lewis in Lauderdale · · Reply

    Very good and important article. It should however be noted that much of this progression occurred because of a Democrat that you worked for Kartik.

    A Democrat named Scott Brook who you worked for empowered this right-wing faction.

    I know you know he was bad news. He started it.

    By the way Coral Springs has November municipals so no excuse for this exists. None whatsoever.

    The local party is simply a paper party. It does not really exist.

    1. I am painfully aware of the Brook mistake. One of the biggest mistakes I have made politically. I have made others but that was one of the biggest.

      1. Gordon · ·

        Yeah you and I both!

  6. Barbie · · Reply

    Another reason why the Dems have no bench in this state-the local party doesn’t do its job. The Broward Chair blocks every effort when an attempt to change that is made. I wonder what clients he lobbies Coral Springs for. That would be interesting research.

    1. What stunned me is how the Broward dems didn’t support Nan Rich and ended up supporting Charlie Crist. Gimme a break! This is her home county, the county she represented so well for so many years. Not only was it stupid to go against the home favorite, but it was a stab in the back, a betrayal of everything Democrat. We are killing one of our own. And what was it that Caesar said? “Et tu, Brutus?” Maybe he was getting even in such a Republican way of doing things…

  7. Dems in 14 · · Reply

    Great article here.

    Shows how worthless the DEC is down there.

    When People blame the state party they are not right. A lot of the fault lies with the local parties on all levels. This is a prime example.

    1. My understanding is that Dade County DEC is doing a more than respectable job, partially by ignoring the State Party. I’ve been ignoring the FDP for a long time.

  8. Gordon · · Reply

    Really hits the spot this article.

    I hope you will cover the 2014 city races closely.

    The faction in power is trying hard to maintain power and even add another commissioner.

    Coral Springs is the only city nationally to win the Baldridge Award. Just a decade later it is a laughingstock.

  9. The city’s registration is just 24% republican AND elections are in November.

    Your points about the top of the ticket locally are right on.

  10. Backing a true Dem. · · Reply

    Dear Sharon:

    I am aghast that you do not seem to realize that there is a legitimate Democratic candidate for governor, Sen., Nan Rich. You should be telling your Republican friends that Nan will win the primary and then there will be a true Democrat that we can ALL get behind to beat Rick Scott!!

  11. Dan Daly worked for Ari Porth and yet backs all the republicans.

    Shameful!

    1. Bow ties don't belong on grown men · · Reply

      Ari backs all the little Republican boys these days.

  12. Kerry Sachs · · Reply

    Compared to other high end cities like Boca Raton or Delray Beach Coral Springs is a joke. The Coral Square mall is awful, the restaurant and nightlife scene the same. Change is needed and Howard would be a good start.

  13. Cristina,
    I love your passion and dedication, but what do you mean Miami-Dade is the same? where have you been? Because the Miami-Dade Dems have totally revitalized and energized the party. Even though Democratic lobbyist have not been happy with our Chair targeting their Republican clients. They would prefer that Annette Taddeo would have stayed with the status quo, when the party was a do nothing organization where people met monthly to bitch about anything and everything, but didn’t accomplish anything let alone to elect any Dems.

    I quit the party myself, but came back because of Annette. The first thing she did was go all out against the Dolphins corporate welfare, and we won! Then the Dems started getting involved in municipal elections, the first one being in homestead. Annette raised money for the mayoral race against the husband of a county commissioner (Linda Bell). The miami-Dade Dems ran a paid canvass operation and sent mailers on behalf of the Dem candidate, letting Dems know he was a Dem. What a concept! They also send mailers letting Dems know the other candidate was a tea party Republican and included a picture of him with Rick Scott. Here’s a link to an article with all the details ( http://www.politicalcortadito.com/2013/11/06/homestead-mayor-dade-dems/ ).

    Then they repeated this strategy in Miami beach, where I live, and won too!( http://www.politicalcortadito.com/2013/11/20/miami-dade-dems-non-partisan/ ).
    But that’s not all, they also have recruited Daniella Levine-Cava to run against Linda Bell for County Commission ( http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/06/3855235/lynda-bell-draws-serious-challenger.html ).

    So, there you go, the Miami-Dade Dems have been very active and doing a great job. Now, if in your comment you are referring to State House races, you are correct, the FDP has been doing a poor job recruiting. But I hear the Miami-Dade Dems are recruiting for those too, and if true, I say, watch out, because so far they are batting one-thousand! Give it a little time.

    On top of all of that, Joe Garcia’s victory gave us the first ever Cuban American Congressman from Florida and we broke the troika of Cuban American Republicans representing us. We have been working very hard to ensure that he stays in Congress. Then, there is Jose Javier Rodriguez’s surprise win over big brother Diaz de la Portilla. We have been working very hard to help his re-election for the State House.

    Christina, I know that you are a hard working and dedicated Democrat. You’ve put your money, time and soul into our cause. Please don’t stop, don’t give up.

    Sam Feldman

  14. Nicky K · · Reply

    Agreed completely on this. I am shamefully one of the D’s that supported Dan based on his connection to a good friend (and good D) Ari Porth, and also supported Vince Boccard for mayor against the lousy candidate last time around. Similarly, knowing Larry Vignola since childhood and being friends with his parents, I was also a supporter. I, like many registered D’s in Coral Springs, think — “Coral Springs is a strong City Manager city — the commission doesn’t have real power to make a City right wing.” The problem with this thinking is that Dan and Larry now become the “bench” for higher office and have established a base within Coral Springs.

    If the D’s are going to create any bench, we need to stop treating these city positions like NPA races and support the D’s that run for those positions — the Republicans aren’t treating them as NPA — they are treating them like finishing school for their county and state candidates.

    I won’t be fooled again

  15. […] this month we discussed Coral Springs, a city in Broward County with over 120,000 residents that has not elected a Republican to […]

  16. The city is a joke due to the fact that you allowed Section 8 housing into the city and turned it into a ghetto. All the bleeding heart liberal crap took over and made it so CS is one of the most dangerous cities in the state to live. Do you think the right wingers did that? No, Dem’s did. Drive down Royal Palm west of Coral Springs Drive and look on both sides. Two murders there in the last year….why? is this middle class people shooting and hurting each other? Nope, it is the people that CS really was never designed to have in it living here in low end rental units. Night life? Ha, you are ill advised to go out after dark by foot around here. Look at Starbucks some night in the Walk…have a hard look. The people of success, do not frequent these places because the low enders have taken over. It is not safe to go out. The Walk is now a huge failure. You win Broward Dems…you have ruined what was once a great city, and you want to blame it on the right wingers. Similar to Detroit, which is now a war zone, Coral Springs will look the same way in 15 years or less on it’s current track. Well done Coleman Young, Kwame Kilpatrick, Dave Bing, and all the liberal leadership of Detroit. Ditto for Coral Springs and clowns like Scott Brook, Claudette Bruck, Roy Gold, and all the other liberal morons.

  17. I can’t wait to vote for tom powers and keep Coral Springs bright red!

  18. […] discussed the city of Coral Springs extensively a few months ago. Coral Springs is one of Florida’s 15 largest cities with over 120,000 […]

  19. Sounds like good news to me. Getting rid of Democrat Socialists is on the top of my list. Way to go Coral Springs!!!

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