Updated: Four of five Broward County Commission races to be contested

A last-minute challenge to Broward County Commission candidate and state Sen. Chris Smith’s petition to run for District 9 brought uncertainty to the race as qualifying ended Friday.

Sean Phillippi, who is working as a consultant for Commissioner Dale Holness’ re-election campaign, emailed a complaint at 11:50 a.m. Friday to the county’s Supervisor of Elections Office about 30 of the signatures accepted for Smith’s candidacy. The deadline to qualify for the ballot was noon.

To qualify for the ballot, candidates from the two major parties had to pay $5,747, while unaffiliated candidates had to pay $3,831. Write-in candidates pay no qualifying fee. An alternative was to collect voter signatures from the district.

Phillippi argued that the voters were either not in the county, were not in the district or were not listed in voting records.

Qualifying updates: 2016 elections

“Right now I don’t see anything wrong, but I want to make sure we’ve checked everything,” she said.

Smith would be ineligible to run if the signatures were not allowed because he was just over the required amount.

Phillippi said he requested a list of Smith’s petition signatures earlier this month, not intending to challenge them. He did not begin to review them until last week, he said.

“It wasn’t until last night — until we had all the information — that commissioner Holness gave the go ahead for me to do this today,” he said.

Smith questioned the timing of the challenge.

Parkland mayor Udine files for Ritter's county seat

Parkland mayor Udine files for Ritter’s county seat

Parkland Mayor Michael Udine wasted no time filing to run for County Commission after Stacy Ritter’s seat came open.

Ritter starts her new job as Broward tourism director June 5. The announcement came Friday.

Udine (@michaeludine and michaeludine.com) was at the counter of the Broward elections…

Parkland Mayor Michael Udine wasted no time filing to run for County Commission after Stacy Ritter’s seat came open.

Ritter starts her new job as Broward tourism director June 5. The announcement came Friday.

Udine (@michaeludine and michaeludine.com) was at the counter of the Broward elections…

(Brittany Wallman)

“It’s a shame that Commissioner Holness resorts to cheap political tricks instead of running on his record against me,” he said. “I am ashamed for our community that that’s how he starts this election season. I plan on running on my record.”

Holness, 59, a real estate professional, has outraised all candidates in any of the County Commission races, with more than $292,000 to Smith’s more than $187,000. Holness lives in Plantation but is a former Lauderhill city commissioner.

Smith, 46, is an attorney. He lives in Fort Lauderdale, Broward’s largest city but one that lost direct representation on the County Commission in recent years.

Both candidates are Democrats.

District 9 covers all or parts of Fort Lauderdale, unincorporated Broward, Plantation, Sunrise, Lauderhill, Tamarac, Oakland Park, North Lauderdale and Lauderdale Lakes. It has the highest percentage of Democrat voters — 72 — and the lowest percentage of Republican — 8. The remainder are no party or in another party. The district also has the highest percentage of black voters, 65 percent.

Holness is Caribbean-American of Jamaican heritage and Smith is African-American.

The primary race will be held Aug. 30 and only Democrats can vote. Write-in candidates Phanor Viveros, 47, and Janet Burnett, 61, also qualified to run. Viveros and Burnett will not appear on the ballot.

The District 9 race was expected to be the most hotly contested of the five County Commission seats at play this year. Commissioners are paid $95,782 annually and are limited to three four-year terms.

Here’s a look at the other races:

District 1

In District 1, former state Sen. Nan Rich, who made a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2014, and Weston Commissioner Jim Norton face an August primary.

Rich, who is 74 and the mother of Broward school board member Laurie Rich Levinson, has amassed a hefty campaign war chest, with more than $236,000 in contributions. Norton, 53, a real estate agent and magazine publisher, has raised nearly $51,000.

Both are Democrats who live in Weston. The primary will be open only to registered Democrats after a write-in candidate qualified. The write-in candidate’s name will not appear on the ballot.

The District 1 commissioner represents some of west Broward: all or parts of Sunrise, Plantation, Davie, Lauderhill, Tamarac and Weston. The position is held by Martin Kiar who is resigning to run for property appraiser.

The seat is solidly Democrat. Of the active voters, 49.5 percent are registered Democrats, 22 percent are Republican and 27 percent are no-party affiliation.

District 3

The Northwest Broward District 3 seat is up for grabs, after Commissioner Stacy Ritter left to take the job as county tourism director.

The race to replace her will be a November contest.

Democrat Michael Udine, 50, an attorney and the mayor of Parkland, faces Republican Randal Cutter, 56, pastor of the non-denominational New Dawn Community Church in Coral Springs, and write-in candidate Raymark Alberto Clement, 53, a Coral Springs civil engineer.

Clement vows he’d reduce property taxes, while Cutter says he’ll fight against a proposed increase in the sales tax. Udine points to his record in Parkland, where he said the city had low debt, high increases in property values and low crime.

Udine is the top fund-raiser in the race so far, pulling in more than $135,000. Cutter has not reported any campaign contributions. And Clement, who was a registered Democrat when he opened his account, has raised more than $1,600, almost all of it in self-loans.

The district includes Coral Springs, Parkland, Tamarac and North Lauderdale. Of the active voters, 48 percent are registered Democrats, 23 percent are registered Republican and 27 percent are no-party affiliation.

District 5

Two Democrats will face off in an August primary for this West Broward district seat, with the winner taking on a Republican in November.

Democrat Steven Geller, a 57-year-old attorney and former state senator who has run for County Commission before will face Wayne Arnold, 76, who is retired from the restaurant business and was formerly a Central Broward Water Control District commissioner.

The winner will face Chuck Lanza, the county’s former emergency operations chief, in November.

Geller has raised more than $138,000, Lanza, 63, has raised just under $18,500 and Arnold has not reported any campaign contributions.

Arnold filed a petition Thursday to appear on the ballot as Wayne ‘Hemingway’ Arnold.

Like everywhere in Broward, the district skews Democrat, but it’s slightly more favorable to a Republican than some other districts. Of the active voters, 42 percent are registered Democrats, 29 percent are registered Republicans and 27 percent are no party affiliation.

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-qualifying-broward-commission-20160624-story.html

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