When it comes to entertainment and attractions, the city of Sunrise has more than most people might expect from a suburb of 90,000 residents.
There are the attractions you’re already familiar with — the massive Sawgrass Mills mall and the BB&T Center, home of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers and site of many big-name concerts (Barbra Streisand will be there soon.)
Coming next could be a $61.4 million City Hall complex — complete with a $10 million water park that includes a lazy river ride, splash pads and water slides.
The City Commission already has approved the expenditure, although nothing ever is final until a shovel breaks ground. The water park still could become an issue in the November election, as Sunrise residents will pick a new commissioner to replace Don Rosen, who is not running for re-election in the Group A seat.
The three candidates — retired Sunrise police officer Steve Del Re, business owner Vivi Assidon and attorney Mark Douglas — have varying opinions on what should or shouldn’t be done about the City Hall complex. Those opinions could affect how some people vote.
All three candidates are passionate about the city and could do a good job, but the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board believes Mark Douglas is the best candidate in the race.
Douglas, a 39-year-old attorney from Jamaica, would be the first minority ever elected to the Sunrise commission. More importantly, he has the skills needed to get the job done.
He has been a systems engineer and IT technician. He also worked as a pro bono intern in the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office before going into private practice. He has served on several city advisory boards, has been president of his condo association at Artesia, and has diverse work experience.
He has a good understanding of finance and would propose an ordinance mandating a balanced budget. He wants to be sure city finances are sustainable, rather than going through boom and bust cycles. He wants to bring some of the services seen in the western half of Sunrise — such as well-kept sidewalks, swales, medians and good drainage — to the often-neglected eastern half of the city. He wants to bring more attention to some of the city’s traffic problems.
Douglas also would be a voice against spending $10 million for a water park.
“The water park would not be my choice,” he said. “It would be difficult (and costly) to maintain.”
Assidon, 60, wants the city to do more to support small businesses. He wants to maintain services, balance the budget and make tough decisions to control spending. But his sense of frugality does not extend to the $10 million water park, which he favors as a good attraction for families.
Assidon is a 30-year resident of Sunrise and says the relationships he’s built will help him be an effective commissioner. He also has been on the city’s Planning and Zoning Board.
Del Re, 50, spent 24 years on the Sunrise police force and knows the city’s streets well. He wants term limits for commissioners and wants to take away their pensions. He is not in favor of the water park, and also has major concerns with Sunrise being part of the county-run 9-1-1 system.
“The call-takers and dispatchers are not familiar with the area,” he said.
All three candidates possess a variety of skills, but Douglas has the range of skills needed to do the job without a lengthy learning period.
Mike Ryan, mayor of Sunrise since 2010, was re-elected to the position unopposed. Joey Scuotto, who was first elected to the commission 19 years ago, also was re-elected unopposed.