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Fort Lauderdale City Commission Candidates debate tonight at St. Anthony's School, Fort Lauderdale.
In a classic battle between Big Money and the little people, three establishment candidates square off to preserve the status quo against Fort Lauderdale's answer to Ross Perot, self-made millionaire Lester Zalewski.
Lester Zalewski has put up $10,000 of his own money made from selling his action sports business last year. He says he wants change that adds value to the city, not the status quo. He represents the little people, regular folk like himself.
He first indicated his decision to run mid-November 2012 but has since then made rapid progress placing full-color posters in high-visibility locations - launching a busy interactive website – http//:www.lesterz.com - a popular Twitter account-@ lesterzalewski - and videos on YouTube. Two of these ran on cable including major news channels CNN, MSNBC and FOX NEWS earlier in 2011.
Here’s one spot that confronts Zalewski’s name recognition and pronunciation problem. Remember election day is January 15 not 31, because this commercial ran in 2012.
Zalewski's can-do, no-nonsense business management style is reflected in his campaign mantra – “I’m going to look to the City’s Bottom Line, so I want you to look to the bottom line of the ballot January 15, and vote Zalewski”.
Lester Zalewski is set to debate the other three candidates at 7:00 PM Wednesday January 2nd at St. Anthony’s School, Fort Lauderdale.
Walking through the neighborhoods of District 2 listens to the concerns of residents from Victoria Park to south Middle River to Fort Lauderdale Beach where he is the Vice President of the Central Beach Alliance. A few CBA Directors contend they removed him as a Director citing arcane CBA bylaws that flout Florida State law and the basic principles of American democracy. Zalewski was elected by the people but was never removed by the people.
However he has won the firm support of former Attorney General Candidate Frederick Goldstein and Central Beach Alliance Co-Founder and international bestselling author C.J. Beck.
"IF Lester has one fault, it's his selflessness. He puts other folks way above himself. Just like former Commissioner Tim Smith did. Many politicians don't do that. But then Zalewski is not a politician. Otherwise he wouldn’t fight the status quo. He fights for the right thing," said Beck.
Beck is referring to Former Commissioner Tim Smith, author of the political bio POLITICS 101. He represented District 2 for six years until 2004 and ran for Mayor losing to the twenty year incumbent Jim Naugle.
Political novice and challenger Lester Zalewski is probably studying Smith's humorous handbook very seriously right now. He wants to roll up his sleeves and become the new Commish.
Here are the three questions that Citizen Journalist, former District 2 City Commissioner Tim Smith posed and Zalewski's answers at - http://blog.timsmith.com/
1.) What made you run?
I want to give back to the place I’ve called home for fourteen years.
I’ve served overseas in our military. I’ve served on the boards of my condominium and on the Central Beach Alliance where I encouraged more inclusiveness and consensus. That’s my goal on City Commission too.
2.) What would your agenda be if elected?
I don’t need to tell people times are tough.
There is going to be an increasingly competitive environment for investment and government dollars.
Economic development and re-development is key to all the neighborhoods of Fort Lauderdale. We need to make Fort Lauderdale a more attractive place to invest, work, learn and play in.
I want to encourage responsible re-development. Our building developers need to be good neighbors and beautify and add value to our neighborhoods. There are great examples of local developers who are showing the way already.
It’s not just about compatible, responsible building re-development. It’s also about bringing in new industry – new jobs - fresh skills, that will boost our economy all year round – not just when the tourists and boaters are here.
I want to expand Mayor Seiler’s campaign for citizen involvement. We need to increase not just volunteers’ hours but the quality of input.
I’ve spoken at City Commission and committee and I’ve seen we can make better use of volunteers’ time. But we need to incentivize them - show them that we will act on their input. Committees need to be more than mere talking shops. We need to improve our meeting skills. And the City Commission needs to show our community leaders that their words have value and will lead to action.
We need a vision for the long term too. One that will prepare us for the competition to our marine and tourism industry from cities in the US and overseas. We are almost #200 in cities to do business in. We need to change that. One that will prepare us for the great challenges in the years ahead. I don’t see that leadership in our master plan. It will be if I’m elected City Commissioner.
3.) The beach area residents have been conflicted about growth on the beach for some time. What would you do about beach redevelopment if elected?
District 2 is far more than the beach, just as Fort Lauderdale is far more than just District 2.
Everybody should enjoy the beach. It is also an important economic engine for the city. But let’s not forget those areas that are currently being neglected.
Walk or cycle the streets and you’ll see abandoned vacant lots - an entire community with no supermarket – unsafe sidewalks – unsafe bike lanes - historic buildings at threat. Send me your list. If elected I will do my best to build consensus to take care of it. E-mail me. lzfortlauderdale@
Help even the odds of the opposition’s big budget and well-oiled political machine and pass on copies of this letter to friends who vote.
There are people who live in Fort Lauderdale all year round who want to enjoy their neighborhoods day and night, and not walk in fear of being panhandled, mugged or stolen from in their cars or homes. Good neighbors can make for good neighborhoods.
On the beach I want more consultation and mixed-use thinking so people don’t have to drive over a bridge every time to get supplies.
The people should be properly consulted on proposals like the Walgreen’s on Las Olas at the beach or the one-bid International Hall of Fame project or linking it to the Bahia Mar development so all of Fort Lauderdale can benefit. Everybody needs to be involved. Not just the special interests.
Our right to determine the future of our neighborhoods is being lost. Don’t throw your neighborhood away. Make your voice count. Make a note to vote January 15.
We can be the City Commissioners’
The first step forward is to vote Lester Zalewski, January 15, 2013.
The establishment candidates Trantalis, Rodstrom and Black have a big head start and big war chests. It’s the classic battle between big money and the little people.
Page Updated Last on: Jan 02, 2013