By: Jen Russon
Last June, after serving two years on the commission, Grace Solomon announced she would not be seeking reelection. Two candidates qualified to run for the District 2 seat, but only one, Richard Walker, has continued to actively campaign.
His opponent, Diego Pfeiffer, 18, a March for Our Lives activist and 2018 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas said although he realizes he will more than likely lose the race, he will not withdraw his name from the ballot.
Pfeiffer’s reasons for ceasing campaign efforts were published in the Sun Sentinel last week. He said he was unhappy with the negative light the story cast on him.
“In truth, I am not campaigning for the city commissioner race; my focus is on education and my development in college. This is a far cry, though, from throwing in the towel and turning my back to the city,” said Pfeiffer.
While he does not deny that his workload at the University of Miami and current residency on the Coral Gables campus make it too difficult to campaign, the theatre major said the article left out his commitment to Parkland – the city he will forever call home.
“I am not withdrawing my name, as I still consider myself a candidate for the position; however, it is Parkland’s decision on that matter not mine,” he said. “I also believe that the community should have a decision to make. The beauty of choice is the foundation of America and Parkland; I absolutely urge everyone to vote in the upcoming election.”
While getting out the vote has proved elusive for the college student. His opponent, Walker, owner of Bergen Sign Company in Pompano Beach, has had an easier time courting Parkland’s voters.
Walker’s campaign signs are ubiquitous in the city. When the two candidates were just getting off the ground, he had a slew of professional campaign photos taken and was busy generating a healthy following on Facebook.
At the start of their respective campaigns, Pfeiffer was on a choir trip in Italy. He had said in July, he didn’t have a chance to do much for his campaign on social media. He was disappointed it took so long to get his headshots back from the photographer.
“I never really got a chance to use them,” said Pfeiffer. Still, the young candidate hopes his platform will resonate with voters.
“Parkland is special and needs to be seen as such. Parkland has changed because the values and needs of its constituents have changed,” said Pfeiffer.
He added that voters having a choice on Election Day is crucial to democracy.
“I do not believe his staying in this race encourages anyone to engage in this election,” said Walker, explaining that he is disappointed in Pfeiffer’s lack of commitment to what he views as a very important position in local government.
“If a commitment is not possible, then the responsible thing to do for the residents of Parkland would be to withdraw from the race. I believe as city commissioner, it takes a significant amount of time and dedication to perform the job effectively,” he said.
Before he entered the race, Walker said he considered all relevant factors, suggesting that his opponent might have done so too.
But the hopeful, future city commissioner said he has a soft spot for his opponent.
“I wish him no ill will. I know Diego is a good kid.”
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.