By Jill Fox
The election, set for November 3, includes the seat currently occupied by Commissioner Stacy Kagan, who is vacating it in her bid to become mayor.
Brier practices business litigation with Cozen O’Connor, a national law firm with offices in South Florida. DellaPolla is a longtime volunteer and a certified substitute teacher at Heron Heights Elementary School. Reicherter is the CEO of three companies, Priority 1 Protection Products, Priority 1 Disinfectant, and Lunasphere. Zand is a Parkland native and a recent graduate from Florida Atlantic University.
Parkland Talk asked the four candidates the same questions about their platforms and what they want for the city of Parkland.
How has COVID-19 affected your campaigning efforts?
Brier: In terms of large events, it’s just not safe. We’ve been focusing on connecting with as many residents as possible through small meet-and-greets, driveway get-togethers, attending zooms with residents and the chamber, and on social media. With the small groups has been an intimacy and a connection with residents, which is far better, in that you’re able to have one-on-one conversations, hear the issues that matter to them the most, and actually connect in a way you probably couldn’t if you were in a room of 200 people.
DellaPolla: Major. You can’t door knock. It’s difficult to even have meet-and-greets because you have to limit the amount of people. Speaking to people is a lot different when you can’t see someone’s face. Watching someone speak, you can tell a lot from a person. I’ve been using my golf cart and talking to people when I walk my dog, but it’s very difficult to engage short of having meet-and-greets, and even that’s limited.
Reicherter: COVID is a tough one because you don’t know where people stand. I try to be sensitive to the community as a whole and not just look at the individual. Most of my campaign has been through social media and videos that I’ve posted to get my message across.
Zand: As a political science major, who’s worked on local, state, and federal campaigns in the past, I have seen the ins and outs of how to campaign, and no one really talks about campaigning in a virtual environment. We get to create our own set of rules. I’ve been doing a lot of Zoom meetings and phone calls with residents. I’ve been able to adapt, which is what a city commissioner should be able to do, and this campaign has really taught me that.
Will you favor retaining the Broward Sheriff’s Office or look into Parkland having its own policing agency?
Brier: I was in Parkland when we had our own police department, and certainly, there are benefits to having a community-based police department. My hope is that the community has rallied together after the primary, and we can move forward with our hopefully re-elected Sheriff Tony. We need to continue to look at ways to improve law enforcement for our community by assessing the quality and making sure we have the best we can afford, and keep a dialogue to make sure we’re doing everything we can to ensure public safety.
DellaPolla: I would prefer to keep BSO at this point. I don’t think with everything going on in the world, right now is the time to be switching police departments. I think it would be rather difficult. In January, on Alarms.com, Parkland was listed as the fifth safest city in Florida– I would like that to be number one. From what the city’s consulting firm study said, it was difficult to overemphasize the challenges of creating a new police department. I think we could work with them. I think they’re doing a fantastic job. I would like to see more officers on bicycles, maybe heavier on Lox and Hillsboro, but other than that, I’m very happy with BSO.
Reicherter: I think for right now, I favor BSO, mostly because they already have the infrastructure in place. Eventually, we should have our own force, but I don’t believe it’s worth the expense right now. BSO does a fantastic job for the city, and I think we should leave it as is right now.
Zand: Thankfully, Sheriff Tony won in August. Every resident who I have spoken to feels safe under his leadership, and I’m definitely in favor of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office for now. However, I do want to work with the finance director to create an assessment for how much creating a Parkland police force would be to see if it’s more cost-effective and if it decreases response times, making our residents even safer.
What is the status of the Heron Bay Golf Course, and what would be your plan for that property?
Brier: It’s a beautiful green space, and we need to preserve as much of it as possible. It has a number of challenges associated with it being that it is privately owned and has restrictions on it. But we need to be engaging with Coral Springs, Parkland, and leaders in the community now, so we can put together a comprehensive plan for addressing the future of the property. I know there are logistical issues, like it being landlocked, and I don’t want a negative impact on the property values of residents in Parkland and Heron Bay.
DellaPolla: I spoke to several that know first-hand the condition of the golf course and the cost to make it usable. Keeping it a golf course seems like it’s going to be out of the question. A good portion of it is landlocked in Heron Bay, so hopefully, working with Heron Bay and the developer, maybe the green space could be donated, and maybe we could build something aesthetically pleasing off of Coral Ridge to fit the Parkland feel and create some revenue for the city by adding a little bit of commercial space.
Reicherter: My plan would be looking at rezoning that land so it can’t be developed into residential or commercial. It should stay a green space. People purchased their homes based on being on a golf course, so Parkland needs to keep some green space.
Zand: Just because we have six more years doesn’t mean we should be waiting six more years — I think it’s great that we’re talking about this now. There are no plans to reopen the golf course as of now. I think we need to keep it green space, whether we add a park or a nature trail, it will keep our property values high. It’s not just a Heron Bay issue, but it’s the surrounding area whose property values would be affected. I want to preserve Parkland’s uniqueness and beautification. We need to be proactive and work with the Coral Springs City Commission to make sure we’re on the same page. I’m more than confident that something will be done that the residents will be happy about.
What is your position on the current school impact fees and how they are being used?
Brier: I know there are a good amount of revenues that are generated by the school impact fees for the new construction in Parkland, and with that, concerns that we will need more schools in Parkland. The city needs to be proactive in working with the Broward County school board members to figure out a plan for addressing the future needs for our children’s sake. We need to engage with them and find out ways we can service the needs of our children, and plan out the future as we add more residents. There is no doubt our schools will be overcrowded, so we need to plan for the future growth of Parkland, and that includes our schools.
DellaPolla: Would I like to have a Parkland school system, sure. But we don’t. So, of course, the fees would go to Broward County.
Reicherter: Unfortunately, Broward County School Board is a tough animal because they get the money in, and it gets sent out to who they think the money needs to go to, so there’s not going to be much you can ever change with that. It’s a shared revenue, so there’s no way we’re going to ever be able to take the money and just put it into Parkland. I don’t think it’s the right way to do it, but the reality of it is they’re not going to change the way they do business.
Zand: I was just recently appointed to the human relations committee on the Broward County School Board. Anything regarding the public schools in Parkland, the city commission doesn’t have direct oversight on. However, the biggest thing our city doesn’t control is our schools, so I decided to be proactive and get on the committee so I can be involved in our schools if an issue arises. I’ll have the relationships with the other school board members, so I can address it at the school board meeting and get something done. If the majority of the residents want to see that fee reduced, then I’m going to be the first one to go to the school board and ask for that fee to be reduced.
Can you explain where the Lox Road process is right now?
Brier: My understanding is the Loxahatchee Road expansion will be two lanes with a median, beautification, and safeguarding, and has been delayed, which concerns me. We have more residents, more bikes, and a growing senior community using the road more often. I lost some schoolmates in high school who died in a car accident off of Loxahatchee, and it’s still a dangerous road to travel on. I hope we can take every measure to expedite the improvement and expansion, so our residents are safe driving down that road.
DellaPolla: It’s still in the design phase, and it’s not supposed to start until 2023. Our hands are tied because it’s not our road, it’s a county road, so we have to depend on them. I wish we had a higher police presence there. I would hate to see anything happen here.
Reicherter: Loxahatchee Road– unfortunately, this is where the smart planning and development never really took place. Lox Road was never meant to be what we’re making it now– a main thoroughfare in and out of parkland. They’re not going to be able to keep up with expanding it and building it to fit the need at the same time. That road needs to be re-planned out. They need traffic engineers, the commission, planning and zoning, a lighting package because it’s too dark…I don’t know how far along they are in the planning, but there needs to be a serious sit down with the traffic department and FPL. We’re growing faster than that road is going to be able to keep up with.
Zand: This is one of my biggest priorities, Lox is not safe to drive on, I can’t bike there because the sidewalks don’t go through, it’s unsafe in general, and something needs to be done now. I’ve talked to the commission, and it should be finished around 2024, but we need to expedite that because someone is going to get hurt. On day one, I’m going to try to figure out how we can expedite that and get construction started as soon as possible. I know we can’t expand the roads, but we need to add a bike lane, a sidewalk, and a median in the road. This should have been done years ago, and in the future, we need to be proactive, and we should be identifying these problems before they become problems.
Are you familiar with the Burt Harris Jr. Act? How does it affect development in Parkland?
Brier: I have some familiarity with the Burt Harris Jr. Act, which addresses the ability for private property protection and what is allowed with regards to a private property owner’s rights and the impact a city can have on the development of their land. I’m getting a better understanding of some of the recent decisions made by the city commission on future development in our city. A portion of our city remains to be developed, and we need to have a comprehensive plan for any future development mindful of private property owner’s rights, but we need to work with planning and zoning, our city planner, and city staff to make sure we preserve the small-town charm and character of Parkland and the impact it’s going to have on our residents. We need to grow smart with regards to the remaining development.
DellaPolla: I am not familiar with it.
Reicherter: I am not.
Zand: I am not familiar with it.
What other activities would you like to see in the city, and how do you plan on funding them?
Brier: In light of COVID-19, I would like to see more creative ways to bring our community together in a safe environment and still connect. Whether that’s more outdoor events, like concerts, where we can be socially distanced, ways to connect our community are of vital importance, especially in today’s day and age, preserving the sense of community and adding to the charm that is Parkland. Maybe a pumpkin patch like we used to have, or city parades, and figuring out ways to do that fiscally responsibly would be a great way to organize activities.
DellaPolla: I’d like to do small little activities and events: a scoop of ice cream on the last day of school, little themed events at the farmers’ market, and events at the park for everyone, whether it’s a lip-sync contest or an Octoberfest. And, we should get Parkland businesses involved. There is so much we can do to engage residents and bring that small-town feel back.
Reicherter: One thing I think is really important that doesn’t happen enough is having groups of committees. Then if the committee of citizens wants to have something done or changed, they can come to the city, and we can work with them to accomplish things, and from there, we can put a budget together if needed. I don’t believe Parkland has enough senior activities within their own developments, and we need to start looking at what we can do to help them. Parkland is great for families, but it was never set up for the 55 and older crowd that we’re now starting to cater to. Not everything takes money; a lot of things take effort. I think I could better-promote Parkland businesses. We need a business community that is thriving and activities that help promote businesses.
Zand: With the development of the Four Seasons and other 55 and up communities, we need to start prioritizing the residents of that age, and one way is by providing more services and activities for them. I’m a big believer in traditions – we have the Farmers’ Market, the Halloween events, but we could always be doing more. By speaking with the residents, we can come up with some more traditional annual events for youth and seniors.
Why are you the right person for the job?
Brier: There is no doubt that everyone running loves Parkland, but I believe we need a city commissioner who is not only passionate and committed to preserving all of the wonderful characteristics of Parkland, but who knows its history, has a track record of community involvement and service, has the knowledge and background to help navigate the city through the challenges ahead, and can build relationships with others in the city to achieve those goals. Based on my background as a litigation attorney, I handle complex legal disputes, I bring parties to the table to resolve those disputes, I have been involved in the City of Parkland for many years, and I served on the community advisory board. I believe I have a strong background and would serve as the best-suited candidate.
DellaPolla: As a resident of Parkland for 13 years, I’ve seen the growth that Parkland has endured. I can’t take a backseat and watch what the future holds. I’m fortunate enough to be here and able to give back to a community that I love so much. As a commissioner, I would be committed to the city and its residents.
Reicherter: I’m a businessman for 26 years, and I’m an execution man. When we talk about school safety, I’m the only candidate who’s producing and selling PPE materials into the Broward County School System. When I saw the need, I went ahead and fulfilled it. We’ve also identified ways to keep the public safe. The difference between me and the other candidates is I may not have the political background, but I build successful companies from the ground up. When I see issues, and I see problems, I know how to relate to the people, I know how to get the job done, and I know how to execute with people. I am going to push to the end to help those resolutions get solved for our community members. From the business side, I think I would make a much bigger impact than my competition would, and I’m proven. I’m already in it, doing it and making it happen.
Zand: As a 21-year-old candidate who has lived here my entire life, I’ve grown up in the Parkland schools, been very involved in the past few years, and my family has been sponsors of many of the citywide events. I’ve met with local business owners, talked with the residents, and I think I bring a fresh and unique perspective to the city commission where no one else does. Having a diverse city commission is what represents Parkland the best. We are known for having started a worldwide movement led by teenagers, many of which are my peers and my friends, and I strongly believe having a young candidate in office would represent Parkland the best. I’m going to be dedicating all my time to this commission because I’m coming right out of college. Doing this as my full-time job will really benefit the future of Parkland.
For more information on each of the candidates, visit their campaign websites.
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