By: Sharon Aron Baron
Coral Springs Mayor Skip Campbell made a formal apology for not inviting the Parkland mayor to sit on the panel along with other elected officials during the Teen Political Forum.
The annual Teen Political Forum invites elected officials from the city, state, county, and school board to sit on a panel where high school students from both Coral Springs and Parkland ask questions.
During this year’s theme called “MSD Strong” the City of Parkland was invited to sit on the panel, however, organizer Commissioner Larry Vignola did not invite the mayor, who had recently met with President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Governor Rick Scott in the aftermath of the deadly school shooting in the city. Instead, he asked Vice Mayor Stacy Kagan and said that he took it to a vote, where student volunteers voted in favor of having the vice mayor sit on the panel.
At last week’s city commission meeting, Coral Springs Mayor Campbell apologized to Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky for their oversight in not having her sit on the panel.
“I’ve received a lot of comments on the Teen Political Forum about Mayor Hunschofsky not getting invited to be on stage,” said Mayor Campbell. “First, I want to apologize to Mayor Hunschofsky. This is a program that the City of Coral Springs puts on, but I think she needs an apology.”
According to Vignola, the reason why he didn’t invite Mayor Hunschofsky was his belief that having two members from the same city sit on a panel without proper notice would violate Sunshine Rules. However, two nights prior to the Teen Political Forum, they did just that at Rep. Ted Deutch’s Town Hall meeting when Parkland’s Vice Mayor Kagan and Commissioner Grace Solomon sat on the panel. The inspector general’s office said it’s acceptable as long as they don’t discuss issues that may be voted on by the commission.
In what would be considered proper protocol, Vignola should have asked the mayor first, then if she couldn’t make it, the vice mayor would then accept the invitation. For instance, two days before, when Mayor Campbell could not make the Town Hall, he asked Vice Mayor Lou Cimaglia to take his place opening the event.
Although she was excluded from the panel, Mayor Hunschofsky sat in the front row of the event, and when there was an incorrect statement from the audience regarding the City of Parkland, she clarified the comment later that evening.
“Apparently, this has made some people question what happened and I just want to apologize to everybody,” said Mayor Campbell. ”I know Larry did not do anything intentional, and I’m not suggesting that.”