We 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 people, and has a close to two-to-one Democratic registration advantage. Yet the city’s commission is 80% Republican and the lone Democrat is term-limited this year.
Coral Springs was long considered one of the state’s leading cities. Throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s it was considered perhaps the best run large city in the state. The city won numerous good government awards, including some national ones. However, since about 2006, Coral Springs has fallen into decline as property values have not kept up with similar municipalities in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Fewer new businesses are starting in the city, and quality of living has declined. The city’s bond rating has been lowered. Coral Springs, once the envy of so many around the state has developed the reputation of a place in decline. During this period the City Commission has gown more conservative and less effective.
This November, four City Commission seats were up for election. One seat, held by City Commissioner Dan Daley, a registered Republican was uncontested and Daley has been reelected. Mayor Vince Boccard, another registered Republican is term-limited and conservative Tom Powers who has served six years on the City Commission is vying to replace him. When qualifying closed in June, former Mayor Roy Gold, whose progressive leadership has been lauded was the candidate running against Powers.
But Gold soon dropped out, reopening qualifying. Coral Springs has an ordinance that dates back to its foundation over fifty years ago that ensures the ability to reopen candidate qualifying should a candidate drop out or pass away after the deadline. With Gold out of the race, former State Senator and 2006 Democratic nominee for Attorney General Skip Campbell stepped forward and offered his candidacy to lead the city he had long resided in.
Coral Springs is a big city with a lot of big city problems, but has been governed by a small cadre of reactionaries the past few years. The prospect of a prominent Mayor like Campbell can help move the city forward. But the current commission which has governed the city like a personal fiefdom just two weeks ago sought to begin a process to prevent the reopening of qualifying again in the future. This came just weeks after the commission pushed personal 60% raises.
Campbell’s entrance into the race ensures that Coral Springs will get statewide attention. Powers has strong local connections, but Coral Springs municipal elections have never gotten the amount of attention that this race will. In the coming days and weeks we will be highlighting some of the issues of concern to Coral Springs votes as well as covering all the Commission races especially the Mayor’s race closely.